Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture when he appeared before the House of Representatives to present and defend the 2021 budget proposed by his Ministry called once again for the regulation of Social media in Nigeria.
According to him,
“The biggest challenge facing Nigeria today is fake news and misinformation. Based on that, we dedicated an entire National Council on Information’s meeting to that issue, after which we launched a national campaign against fake news in July 2018.
We said, then, that the next war will be fought without a shot being fired, but with the use of fake news. We didn’t stop there. We went on a tour of all media houses to solicit their support in the fight against fake news. We launched the campaign to regulate social media, which was bitterly contested by the stakeholders. We kept saying that if we don’t regulate social media, it will destroy us. Social media and fake news will not destroy Nigeria.
The recent #EndSARS war was fought on social media. They mobilised using the social media. The war today revolves around two things. Smartphone and data and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to radio or read newspapers. You will be shocked that when you start arguing with your children, they will be quoting the social media. So, we need a social media policy in Nigeria and we need to empower the various agencies and we need technology to be able to regulate the social media.”
However, member of the house of Reps disagreed with him. Emmanuel Oghene, who faulted the plan said;
“Talking about the recent looting of COVID-19 items, in some places they will be looting, but nobody will know. The government will not know and the police will not know. But because of social media, people will be posting as it is happening and the government will be able to go there and save lives.
There was a time when some boys were digging the road and because of social media, this information came out and the situation was arrested. If there are no social media, that will not happen.
I want to appeal that this desire to shot down the social media, we should not overdo it because it will harm us. China is not a good example because it is a communist country. Nigeria has always been free, we are a Democratic country.
Let us look at other democracies and see what they have done with their social media. This technology is already here. It is not going to go away. We should have enough laws in our law books to deal with social media. If people post things that are not correct, they can be taken to court. If the laws are not enough, bring a bill and the National Assembly will pass it into law. If you shut down the social media, democracy will be greatly hampered.”