Written by Sarah NEGEDU

75% Internet users in Nigeria are on social media - Shittu

Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has identified the social media as a veritable tool for information gathering and dissemination, hinting that at least 75 percent of internet users in Nigeria are on the social media.

Shittu disclosed this at a retreat on ‘Social Media and Good Governance’ hosted by the Ministry of Communications in Abuja, he said Nigeria has a high number of social media users, but however warned against abuse of the platforms.

The minister said though government would not limit Nigerians’ access to social media solely on the basis that they might be used to express views critical of the government, he added that the social media space must be regulated to guard against abuse and hate speech.

Emphasising the size of Nigeria’s online population, Shittu said, “About 75 percent of Nigeria’s online population use social media and the number keeps growing on both social networking sites and blogging sites.

“The size of social media, taken as a whole, can be overwhelming. As of June 2016, there were about 80 million tweets per day. Facebook chat usage is currently over one billion messages daily, according to the Nielsen report of 2016.”

He added, “In an era when the social media have become very strong platforms for information dissemination and public discourse, it is imperative for the government and the key players in the private sector to pay extra attention to feedback from and utilise these new media to provide platforms for government-citizen and business-public engagement in an online, real-time and interactive manner.

“On the other hand, social media can also be a nuisance to the government and society at large. Mudslinging, hate speech, cyber bullying, rants and unbridled ventilation of anger are common features on these platforms.”

He however added that “Government will not limit Nigerians’ access to social media simply because of abuses. Nigerians must use it to express their views. Government will ensure easy interactive platform for the dissemination of its achievements. 

“The parochial, religious and ethnic use of social media should be checked. Only an irresponsible government will allow unguarded use of social media.” 

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has said only five of the 37 Emergency Communication Centres, ECC, are functioning across the country. 

The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this when a delegation from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, paid him a visit.

He said work was however ongoing to make the 32 other centres operational very soon. He said the ECC project was intended to bridge the communication gap between the distressed and emergency response agencies in the country.

Danbatta said the NCC has undertaken the task of facilitating the building and equipping ECC in all 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. He said many of such centres were being built and provided with equipment across the nation in all the six geopolitical zones. 

On her part, the Director General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, revealed that a new subject on human trafficking would start as an independent subject in primary and secondary schools across Nigeria in the next academic session in 2018/2019. 

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