Bilateral meeting: Minister Idris pledges commitment to take-off of new UNESCO Institute in Nigeria

Photo 2: Hon. Minister of Information with Dr. Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information

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The Honorable Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the timely establishment of a UNESCO Category 2 Institute for Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in Nigeria.

The Minister stated this during a bilateral meeting with the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Dr. Tawfik Jelassi, on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, on the sidelines of UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference, in Paris, France.

Nigeria’s pledge to establish and host the Institute emerged from the 2022 UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Week, hosted by Nigeria, in October 2022, in Abuja, and was endorsed by a Resolution of the 216th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board, in May 2023.

Also present at the Bilateral Meeting, which was held at the UNESCO headquarters, was Nigeria’s Ambassador, and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Dr. Hajo Sani.

Affirming Nigeria’s commitment to the vision and ideals of UNESCO, the Minister highlighted the fact that while the country is preparing to step down from the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), after six years on the Council, it is at the same time making a bid for election into the Intergovernmental Council of the Information for all Programme (IFAP).

 Photo 1: L-R: Alton Grizzle, Programme Specialist in Communication and Information, UNESCO; Mohammed Idris, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and National Orientation; Dr. Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information; and Dr. Hajo Sani, Nigeria’s Ambassador, Permanent Representative to UNESCO, at a Bilateral Meeting between the Minister and the Assistant Director-General, at UNESCO HQ, on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

The Minister in a statment by Suleiman Haruna, Deputy Director, Press
Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation stated that expressed his determination to ensure that Nigeria benefits from all existing opportunities in the UNESCO Communications and Information Sector, including the development of community radio, which is one of UNESCO’s ongoing priorities.

“I’m very pleased that my trip to Paris has been very productive, with this meeting. This is a sector that I am deeply passionate about,” the Minister said. “I have always said that when I am done as Minister, I will return to the media space, which is my home. I therefore have a responsibility to make it better, and UNESCO will get my full support and cooperation.”

The Minister disclosed his vision of restoring trust and credibility to government communications in Nigeria, while also kickstarting a national conversation about Nigerian values and identity, as part of a national reorientation campaign, which he said is a priority for the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration.

Minister Idris expressed gratitude to Ambassador Hajo Sani for her diligent representation of Nigeria’s interests at UNESCO, the key role she played in facilitating Nigeria’s hosting of the 2022 UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Week, and the plans for Nigeria to host the first UNESCO MIL Institute in the world.

Responding, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General, Dr. Jelassi, commended Nigeria’s active participation in UNESCO and pledged to continue to support the country to take full advantage of all opportunities for the development of its information and communication space.

He outlined UNESCO’s ongoing work in various areas, from promoting press freedom around the world to supporting the development of community radio, and the ongoing work to harmonize national efforts to fight misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech.

He disclosed that UNESCO has just launched a report titled, ‘Guidelines for the Governance of Digital Platforms’, emphasizing a multistakeholder approach to safeguard freedom of expression and access to information. He also stressed the need for Nigeria to follow up on the Abuja Declaration, describing it as a very significant opportunity for the country.

Earlier, the Honourable Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, had joined other members of the Nigerian delegation, including the Leader of the delegation, the Honorable Minister of Education, Prof Tahir Mamman (who also doubles as President of Nigeria’s National Commission to UNESCO), to participate in the opening ceremony for the 42nd session of the UNESCO General Conference.

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