By Our Reporter
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has emphasized the need to access to reliable and accurate information and knowledge.
UNESCO made this known on Monday at the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) 2020 held at NCCE building Abuja.
Corereporters report that, the representative of the regional director UNESCO Regional office Abuja, Mr Salifou Abdulahi, it is important for information to be more accessible through building of more inclusive, sustainable knowledge societies, trust and saving lives.
According to the director UNESCO regional office Abdullahi, “This is the message of the international Day for Universal Access to information (IDUAI), focusing on the key role that access to information plays in taking forward the Sustainable Development Agenda.
“The international Day for Universal Access to Information was proclaimed on 15 October 2019 at the 74th UN General Assembly to be held on 28 September. “Initially the UNESCO General Conference designated the day on 28 September 2015, to raise awareness of the importance of universal access to information. “This year, the overall theme is ‘Saving Lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hopes”, focusing on the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and policy guarantees for public access to information through and beyond the COVID19 crisis.
He observed that Universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart knowledge.
This right he said is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. “The media plays a vital role in informing the public about issues at interest and it relies much on the ability to seek and receive information.
Informed citizens can make informed decisions, and the prerequisite of access to information is a cornerstone to pluralistic, equitable, open and inclusive knowledge societies.
He said the past six months of COViD~19 pandemic has shed light on the importance of ensuring access to reliable and accurate information and knowledge in the days and age of uncertainty as information itself is a matter of life and death, adding that the role of media and information literacy and open access is powerful instruments for mitigation of crises.
“In this time of evolvement in the media landscape, it has been witnessed that policy dialogue, the application of advanced technology, youth engagement, cultural diversity multilingualism, and gender narratives and discourses are all involved.
In the same vein, the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Christopher Isiguzo on his part reiterated the determination of the NUJ leadership to always make sure the government does not tamper with the fundamental rights of freedom of information and expression of citizens.
Mr. Isiguzo said that was why the union came all out against the satanic anti people, draconian, hate speech and the Social media bill which the National Assembly eventually heeded to the pressure from the masses and jettison.
“We stood against them, we are still standing against them, we will continue to do so because any law that decides to pigeonhole Nigerians, any law or bill that decides to stop us from free expression will be completely rejected,” he said.