The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has said, President Bola Tinubu has demonstrated profound commitment to promoting national cohesion through inclusive governance where each and every segment of the Nigerian society is represented in his government in line with the Federal Character Principle.
Idris made the remarks in Abuja on Wednesday in a paper titled “Promoting National Cohesion Through Strategic Communication,” delivered at the maiden National Security Course for Psychological Operations and Strategic Communication organized by the Defence Intelligence Agency.
The Minister, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Rabiu Ibrahim, on Wednesday was represented by the Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Lanre Issa-Onilu.
The minister said, addressing the challenges to national cohesion in Nigeria requires comprehensive strategies, including the implementation of policies that promote inclusivity, equitable representation, and social cohesion.
He emphasized shared national values, promotion of dialogue, and acknowledgement and respect for the nation’s diversity as crucial steps toward building and maintaining national cohesion in Nigeria.
“Let me hasten to state here that in his profound commitment to national cohesion, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) swore to uphold the constitution. He is dutifully implementing its provisions to ensure that no part of this country feels alienated. This is amply demonstrated in his appointments across Ministries, Department and Agencies. His vision is rooted in promoting unity, understanding and inclusive governance across the country. President Tinubu’s government is not going to operate in an echo chamber!” he said.
The Minister identified historical prejudices such as the civil war between 1967 and 1970, the amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Protectorates by Sir Lord Lugard in 1914, religious differences, ethnic diversity among others, as some of the fault lines being exploited by some interest groups to polarize the country.
He said the media have a unique and critical role to play in promoting national cohesion by toning down divisive rhetoric and weaving national narratives that further strengthen the bond of unity among the diverse cultures and religions in Nigeria.
“Media, if not managed responsibly, can either reinforce stereotypes and divisions or contribute positively to understanding and cohesion. Biased reporting or inflammatory content can escalate tensions
“Misinformation and disinformation mainly propagated on the Social Media are some of the major challenges we are contending with in his country. Naysayers are adept at creating narratives that amplify existing fault lines while setting one community against the other. This deliberate effort to sow discord can have grave consequences on national cohesion,” he said.
Idris said in recognition of the significance of responsible content management, he has been meeting with some of the tech companies with the aim of ensuring a balanced approach that upholds both freedom of expression and safeguards against potential harms on the Social Media.
“The Ministry will align its content regulatory framework with internationally recognized standards to ensure consistency with global best practices. This alignment reflects a commitment to a regulatory approach that respects diverse perspectives while addressing potential challenges,” he said.
The Minister said it is quite challenging to promote national cohesion in the midst of poverty, hence the commitment of the Tinubu Administration to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty by resetting the Ministry and agencies of government charged with that responsibility to ensure that the target set by the President is achieved.
“Economic empowerment also acts as catalyst for wealth redistribution, fostering social equity. When citizens from various socio-economic backgrounds have access to opportunities, it mitigates feelings of marginalization and contributes to a more equitable society.
“It is therefore in realization of this objective that economic empowerment and poverty alleviation are being given prominence in the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR),” he said.