NITDA DG Kachifu Abdullahi
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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) will partner with the national body of the fourth estate of the realm, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), to check quackery and the rising cases of fake news in the practice of journalism.

The partnership will also allow journalists to be skilled in latest technological tools to deliver their jobs more professionally.

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The deal formed part of a recent visit by members of the NUJ led by its National President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo to the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu  Inuwa Abdullahi.

While stressing the relevance of emerging technologies in journalism, Abdullahi decried the adverse effect of fake news on the profession.

His words: “Today, anybody can be a journalist without knowing the journalistic ethics. So, how can we address that? We can only do that through this kind of engagement; by training and retraining because journalists need to understand that it is now about digital journalism and for you to engage in that, one needs to understand the technology and be able to verify information and it’s source before publishing or broadcasting.”

He added:  “We need to always reskill, update our knowledge and understand how the technology works in order to  harness the potentials and use it for better things because technology can be used as either a tool or a weapon; so it is left for the user to decide what should drive the purpose…so everyone has a part to play in ensuring that unscrupulous elements don’t misuse the tech to mislead people”.

While describing journalism as the best medium to sensitize the public on what the federal government is doing towards achieving a digital Nigeria, Abdullahi said the partnership would greatly be beneficial to both parties.

“As a government, we have an ambitious target of achieving 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030. It is not possible for us to train 95 percent of the population on one on one basis, so we need to be innovative.

“We need to find a way of leveraging on organizations like yours to achieve that because if we can have people writing about digital literacy, the reach would  be far more wider than what we can do as a government so that’s why we had already even started engaging your members in some states of the federation;  training and letting them know they have a responsibility of helping the government in sanitizing the system so that we can address the challenge of fake news misinformation and disinformation.”

Speaking earlier, the National President of the NUJ, Isiguzo while applauding NITDA for the different training sessions held for journalists in Jigawa, Kano, Gombe, Katsina states said the visit was to formally meet for the first time with the NITDA’s leadership and also express the union’s profound gratitude for the ongoing trainings even as the union seeks for partnership at the national level.

“A journalist that is not exposed to constant training and retraining programmes is danger to the society and that’s why what you’re doing, we must applaud and we are also asking that we take it beyond and accommodate more of our people so that they will also benefit; that way, such issues about fake news which of course is about misinformation, disinformation and the rest of them would have been effectively tackled,” said Isiguzo even as he also appealed for digital facilities to be provided for the union’s national secretariat in order to aid optimal operations.

“There’s need that we get those facilities because most of our colleagues especially those operating online always come back because they don’t have offices and that’s why the umbrella body there is more like a shade and was provided to everybody that come and when you have these people operate within one enclave control is easier. So we also want to demonstrate some level of control that’s why we are asking for your assistance with some of these facilities and I believe that it will go a long way in also helping the government and its message against fake news”.

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