A panel of former Information Ministers on Thursday advocated the integration of the social media in public information management by governments.
The panelists spoke in Yenagoa during a colloquium entitled “Managing Government Information at the Volatile New Media Age, A Matter of Theory or Question of Practice”
The coloquim was preceded by the inauguration of the Information House where the Bayelsa Ministry of Information is domiciled by former Minister of Information Prof. Jerry Gana.
Leading the discussion, Gana recalled that the Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration laid a foundation for the growth and penetration of telecommunication services driving the new media.
He said that the government saw the need to liberalize the telecommunications sector by licencising operators to provide mobile phone services to Nigerians.
He recalled that the government was limited to the use of the traditional media to disseminate government policies and noted that the advent of new media has come with its challenges.
In his contributions, Mr Labaran Maku, also a former Minister of Information said that the call for the clampdown and restriction of social media is misplaced.
He argued that social media has broken the monopoly on disseminating information and would drive the move for an open society.
“I do not think that those calling for limitations to the use of social media mean well for the society, I do not share that view, although the social media gives people who lack the professional training access to publish information.
“The social media has come to end the era of suppressing information and we must brace up for an open society and government should integrate the social media into its information management strategy,” Maku said.
Another former Minister of Information, Mr John Odeh noted that the advent of new media has merely increased the channels available to government to reach the people.
He observed that the process of communication remained the same and urged media professionals to take advantage of the new media to publicise their work as it provides wider audience.
Mr Oche Elias, a social media activist noted that the new media has witnessed exponential growth with rapid penetration of internet use amongst youths.
According to him, available data indicate that there were more than 90 million active internet users in Nigeria who are predominantly youths in search of alternative information haven lost faith in the traditional media.
Speaking earlier, Bayelsa Commissioner for Information, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson applauded the efforts of the Gov Seriake Dickson administration in the past six year in providing facilities for the ministry.
According to him, the building of a dedicated office structure with conducive work environment was an indication the governor places on information management.