As part of efforts to combat fake news surrounding COVID-19 in Nigeria, The National Orientation Agency and a non-governmental organization, Participatory Communication for Gender Development Initiative (PAGED Initiative) will partner to use credible, reliable and easy-to-understand information to change negative narratives among the citizenry and also protect them from contracting COVID-19.

This was disclosed when the Director General, NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, represented by Director, Special Duties and State Operations, Mrs. Mette Edekobi, received a delegation from the PAGED Initiative led by its Chief Executive Officer, Ummi Bukar at the NOA headquarters in Abuja. The NGO is part of COVID-19 Media Response in Africa project which works together with Free Press Unlimited from the Netherlands and a network of over fifty Nigerian journalists for reliable COVID-19 information dissemination in Africa.

Abari said since the confirmed presence of COVID-19 in Nigeria in 2020, the Agency has been at the forefront of communicating COVID-19 safety protocols, preventive measures, vaccine information and debunking associated conspiracy theories among the citizens. He said the Agency, as part of the strategic communication team of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and in collaboration with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has been working to provide reliable and credible information to sensitize and mobilize Nigerians in the nooks and crannies of the country on various issues identified with the pandemic.

The Director General said the PAGED Initiative has a common ground with the Agency on dissemination of reliable and credible information as well as promotion of accessibility to the right information on COVID-19. He said NOA, among other strategies, had deployed Open Broadcasting Vans in the FCT and environs to broadcast in English and local languages and broadcasted jingles in same languages to pass right and accurate COVID-19 information all over the country.

Earlier, the PAGED Initiative team lead, Ummi Bukar said the purpose of the visit was to discuss problems identified in dealing with the pandemic, as well as measures and actions being taken or being considered in tackling the pandemic in the country.

Bukar said that the initiative is training the media on COVID-19 communication and has produced an animated short video on the pandemic in English and Hausa which is being used in communicating reliable information in different communities in the Northern part of the country for easy comprehension. She said the partnership with NOA will enable PAGED Initiative to leverage on the Agency’s robust platforms to reach out to grassroot communities.

Paul Odenyi

Assistant Director, Press

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