“Regulating social media won’t solve Nigeria’s problems”
“Regulating social media won’t solve Nigeria’s problems”
After the killings, looting and arson that trailed the EndSARS protests in some parts of the country, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, publicly hinted on government’s plan to regulate social media, eliciting reactions from Nigerians on both sides of the argument. In this issue, some Nigerians who consider the platforms as their sole sources of receiving and disseminating information said regulating won’t solve Nigeria’s problems. Excerpts:
Nigeria's problems which range from bad governance, impunity, and lack of accountability, predates the advent of social media. Social media as a tool allows users to share content with the public. It also helps in throwing more light into the activities of government and bringing them to account.
While it can be abused, the benefits far outweigh the risk it poses because there are other compensating laws that take care of fake news peddled on social media. Regulating social media cannot be the solution to Nigeria's problems.
JAMES ORNGUGA: Well, regulating social media cannot solve all of Nigeria's problems. However, it will address some issues to an extent. Fake news has the potential of sparking a crisis or causing a war. So if there is a level of censorship, people would be mindful of what they post and that will help us as a people.
We should always be mindful of the kind of information we dish out so that the public will not be misled. If we do that, it would help matters because the consciousness to regulate ourselves is not there. Some people post information without verifying their sources.
While regulation is important, we should be mindful of freedom of information. We have the right to express ourselves. If the information is right, then it should be expressed. People should not be muscled but then, the information should be right. It shouldn't be fake and aimed at tarnishing one's image or aimed at causing crisis. That wouldn't be right.
VICTOR UDOCHUKWU: Nigeria's problem is multifaceted; ranging from abuse of power, corruption, money laundering, terrorism, kidnapping, banditry amongst others. The social media, rather than be a problem, has helped the masses in various ways to discuss and call out corrupt politicians and public officers on cases of looting of our national treasury and the likes.
Regulating the social media is a way of silencing the populace who could only air their views using this platform, thereby, directly saying the people's views should be restricted. Government should chart the way forward by providing the basic needs of the people and provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive, and leave social media alone.
BABS USIGBE: The planned social media regulation is definitely, not the solution to Nigeria's lingering problems. That is just a fraudulent plan. There are existing laws in the country and I think the government can use the conventional courts to prosecute offenders.
NNADI NWAFOR: Well, I don't know the terms under which government wants to regulate social media. Social media as we all know, play a vital role in dissemination of information at a fast and affordable rate.
What I perceive about the controversial Social media regulation, is that it is an attempt by the ruling class to silence criticism. In advance climes, government regulates social media but they don't use such regulations to witch-hunt the critics.
Government has been making several attempts to silence opposing views. If eventually, the bill is passed into law, it can do a lot of damage to the peoples’ demands from government. When the issue of hate speech bill came up, it generated reactions from 90 per cent of Nigerians because it was purely an attempt to silence opposition.
If you shut down social media, like Facebook for just two hours, the entire country will be in total black out for news gathering and dissemination. Government should not just enact a law that doesn't represent the interest of the masses.
GIDADO LAWANI: For me, I think the regulation of social media is long overdue. Yes, I agree that social media afford us the opportunity to engage in all sorts of social interactions. However, it has caused so many damages to our polity.
In the recent past, people used the social media, especially Facebook as a dumping ground, where you see all sorts of miscreants, dropping offensive comments that can disturb our national peace. In Facebook, you will see fake news, and photoshop that is injurious to the personality of so many public figures.
Having said all these, before regulating social media, government should go back to the drawing board, and harness what is needed, so that the social media users could as well knows their boundaries. We can't do without social media in this digital age. But people have abused the uses of social media.
RODNEY CHIBO: Social media regulation is not going to solve any problem. Social media is the only open-ended avenue for people to talk. They have closed everywhere and they want to close this one too because they hold impunity and want to protect their corruption.
It is all about impunity. And impunity supports their bad ways. How can only the National Assembly be taking almost N146 billion out of a budget and you don't have regards for education? You don't have program me for the youths and when they talk, you want to regulate social media. Well, they can go ahead and do it but it is not going to solve any problem.
I think that the government should rather bring concrete programmes that support youth development. The problem is not with the social media. The problem is with them. They are cornering everything to themselves. The National Assembly should be a part time job.
What do they do? Nothing. Have they impacted on your life since 1999? This is the only way we can talk and vent our anger. But they are telling us they want to regulate. Let them go ahead, but they should make legislators at the national and state assemblies a part time job so that they can reduce money.
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