As Artificial Intelligence transforms lives at breakneck speed, it also presents countless avenues for access to information, intelligence gathering, sharing, security and privacy.
The Director-General of National Information Technological Agency, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, made the disclosure at a Workshop in Commemoration of International Day for Universal Access to Information organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja.
The NITDA boss, who was represented at the event by Director of IT Infrastructure Solution, Dr. Abdullahi Usman Gambo, said that Artificial Intelligence technology has the potential to open up tremendous opportunities for access to information as well as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda.
He added that AI applications enable innovative solutions, improved risk assessment, better planning, and faster knowledge sharing.
He said: “Universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information. Access to information is more and more recognized as a prerequisite for sustainable development and for claiming human rights. Meanwhile, Artificial Intelligence is poised to revolutionize the way we go about our daily lives – from governance to business, legislation to medicine to defence, etc. We can all agree that AI is humanity’s new frontier.
“Therefore, NITDA as the prime Agency for e-government implementation, Internet governance and general IT development in Nigeria, has developed initiatives for adoption of emerging technologies such as AI, strengthen cybersecurity, digital skills for digitally excluded citizens while enhancing the regulatory and market environment to increase access to ICTs, and promote seamless asses to information.
“We believe AI and associated emerging technologies will completely enhance the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of information gathering during the exchange of data or the ways of communication.”
Also speaking at the event, the Editor-in-Chief of PRNigeria, Yushau Shuaib, said access to information is the right of the citizens to access accurate, transparent, responsible and timely information that sometimes can be a matter of life and death.
In his paper, titled: “Access to Information in times of Crisis: saving Lives, Building Trust and Building Hope,” Shuaib pointed out that governments have obligations to communicate with people through appropriate media, while the public has the right to know and criticise authorities through constructive engagement.
Shuaib said: “The merits of New Media on affordability, accessibility and Instant delivery are occasionally marred by the fact that Social media is unregulated, anonymous and manipulative for spreading fake news.”
He therefore called for collaboration of stakeholders in ensuring appropriate legislation through public awareness campaigns to improve access to universal information in time of crisis.
Meanwhile, in a communique after the workshop, participants noted that responsive reportage is essential to curbing fake news and enabling universal access to information, adding that security consciousness is key when reporting in a crisis-laden environment.
While affirming that not every information is news, the authenticity of every news should always be verified because democracy thrives better when there is unhindered access to information.
They also affirmed the need for youths to deepen their confidence and be data-driven and recommended that women should be integrated into policymaking in every segment of the economy.
While urging stakeholders to work together and build alliances, they called on agencies and ministries in-charge of data collection to be better coordinated towards having a robust database for Nigerians.
In conclusion, they recommended training and retraining of government agencies, media houses on the importance of Freedom of Information Act and to sharpen their investigative skills.
Apart from representatives of federal Permanent Secretaries and Secretary-General NATCOM-UNESCO, other guest speakers at the occasion included the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo; Dr. Abdulmalik Nuhu of the University of Abuja; Rafatu Salami of Voice of Nigeria; and Daniel Nwaeze of Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy.