26th May 2024

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Participants at the Roundtable at the Finnish Embassy in Abuja

A sad occurrence that is fastly becoming an unpleasant reality in the media world and general public space is the parlance, ”bad news is good news and good news is no news”‘. This anomaly, (which shouldn’t be in the first instance) is alarmingly accentuated by falsehood and misinformation and may gain more traction to the detriment of many if left unchecked and unguarded. Information, and its dissemination channels are critical aspects of growth and as development components should be properly handled by experts and those rightly equipped and trained to do so.

Promoting acceptable information platforms will continually help to position truth over falsehood, right over wrong, decorum over disorderliness, public trust and confidence building over increasing risks and threats of disinformation. While technological advancement is helping in no small ways in improving mankind interactions and progress, it is also faced with its own challenges. Modern technology such as deepfake, Artificial Intelligence and robotics among others are intensifying disinformation spread in growth areas such as in politics, governance, defence, security, socio-economic pursuits, the media adversely affected.

Like disinformation which are propagated to deliberately mislead, distort beliefs and negatively influence behaviours; misinformation is the false or inaccurate information circulated or communicated, often unintentionally, without a deliberate intention to deceive or manipulate, as a result of lack of knowledge, understanding, verification, etc. Disinformation could appear in various narratives such as turning black to white and vice versa, to turn the attacker into the victim and the victim to the accused or guilty party as we know that “attack is the best line of defense.” Over the years there’s been increased in war due to different malign activities, cyber-attacks, economic coercion and other strategic narratives to undermine institutions through disinformation.

Therefore, manipulation of information with intent to distract, distort, confuse, sow division and fear and hatred, or shift attention/Blame from something to a different actor or action is inimical and can have significant impacts on individuals and communities’ perception, decision-making process and outcomes. Disinformation could also be in form of image based, photos which are mostly spread online due to its easy access by the targeted audience.

At various levels of human exchanges and societal engagements are growing and disturbing reports of information misrepresentation and harmful communication undermining development and polarizing many credible information system and channels. These Siamese partners (disinformation and misinformation), which can be expressed through foreign, domestic, state actors/Non state actors) are harmful, precipitating decline in public opinions and trust, and badly impacting on development communication, progressive networks and social good.

Therefore, the promotion and management of apposite information for positive advancement by relevant stakeholders is crucial, and towards this, the Embassy of Finland in Nigeria (a respected, progressive and impactful mission with works that are appreciated in many areas of development) and the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats organised an eventful discussion on disinformation – its different forms, the central players, and the risks involved.

The Roundtable held on the 28 May 2024 in Abuja, brought together selected Nigerian and Finnish experts and practitioners for an exchange of views and experiences on information, disinformation and narratives: challenges and perspectives with reference to Europe–Africa relations, was aimed at identifying ways in which to ensure that the free flow of information is not replaced by the self-serving narrative of any actor.

The scholarly discourse with guests drawn from development and intellectual circle including: journalists, researchers and civil society representatives featured presentations and engagements aimed at encouraging a joint reflection on how we see ourselves and how we communicate with each other in an increasingly complex global context, fostered exchange and consider best practices for ensuring the quality and transparency of information, and for making this information available in different contexts.

The Host, Her Excellency, Ambassador Leena Pylvänäinen, an exemplary, engaging and developmentally inclined Envoy, also regarded as a friend of the country, opened the Roundtable with an inspiring welcome address, dwelling on the meeting importance and ongoing efforts of the Embassy in boosting bilateral ties between Finland and Nigeria.

The distinguished and internationally recognised research expert, Dr. Jukka Aukia, a Finnish and senior analyst at the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (HybridCoE), introduced the event’s Topic thus preparing the way for the main speaker, Dr. Aukia’s in-depth outline and why the Roundtable is needed at this crucial time in our nation’s and the region’s is indeed fascinating and enriching.

Following these, the cerebral, conscientious and renown media guru, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, CEO and founder of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), the Keynote Speaker, delivered a robust and insightful lecture, The presentation Publisher/CEO, Premium Times Newspaper further set the dialogue aglow to the admiration and applause of those around.

Participants presents at the gathering had qualitative and comprehensive questioning and commentary time with invaluable contributions that are far-reaching on efforts at identifying fakenews, effective fact-checking, addressing factors inhibiting right information flow, changing unwelcomed narratives, and fostering beneficial and approved messaging.

Acclaim Nigeria International Magazine (ANIM) Abuja Head, Mr Moses Taiwo, was among the invitees for the auspicious event. The media organisation, a diplomacy and development promotions outfit and a friend/partner of many foreign missions in Nigeria and beyond is grateful for its invitation and participation.

Kudos to the Finnish mission and Team-Finland in Nigeria for this eye-opening and informative programme towards eradicating disinformation and misinformation promotion, and reaffirming its commitment to ensuring a safe, comfortable and secured Nigerian environment.

The memorable event concluded with a buffet lunch and a time of networking among the guests.

Long Live Finland and Nigeria Relations!




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