- The proposed social media bill is still a major topic in the polity
- Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's information and culture minister insists that the bill will bring sanity to the social media space
- The minister is of the opinion that those who are uncomfortable with the bill are purveyors of fake news and hate speech
The minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said the only people worried about the proposed social media bill are purveyors of fake news and hate speech.
The minister made the comment on Monday, November 18 when he recieved a delegation from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its national president, Mr. Chris Isiguzo.
The minister challenged the NUJ leadership to be at the forefront of the federal government's efforts to rid the social media of fake news and hate speech
According to him, it is in the interest of the NUJ and other media bodies to be in the vanguard of the campaign.
“As a matter of fact, the NUJ and other media professional bodies should take the lead in sanitizing the social media space, because they will be the first victim when the people lose confidence in the media due to the reckless actions of non-journalists and purveyors of nfake news and hate speech,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the plan by the federal government to regulate the social media is not aimed at gagging journalists or stifling free speech.
He assured the delegation that the federal government will not act unilaterally indeciding the strategy to adopt in regulating the social media.
“We will work with stakeholders, including the NUJ, Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the civil society, online publishers, bloggers, etc,” he assured the delegation.
He listed the options open to the government in regulating the social media as including technology, legislation and the use of regulatory bodies.
Earlier, the NUJ president lamented that events in recent times in the country have given the union cause of concern especially regarding the safety of journalists.
He expressed concerns that the social media bill might be used to silent the media and perceived political opponents.
He noted that a free press is by and large a critical component of democracy, adding that the role of ensuring accountability in all levels of governance makes the media a key factor in the democratic process.
He, however, thanked the federal government for boosting security through the Nigerian Internal Security and Public Safety Alert System which, he said, the NUJ will key into for enhanced safety of journalists in the country.
Isiguzo further said the NUJ is also working with stakeholders to present a bill to enhance welfare package for journalists before the National Assembly.
Alhaji Mohammed recently stated that nothing would stop the plan of the federal government to go ahed with the social media bill.
He made the declaration on Thursday, November 14 when he hosted an association of online publishers.
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