A critical review on the much debated Nigerian social media bill
(Political writer, CN)
Compiled on 15 December 2015
Published on 18 December 2015
It behooves me here to categorically express my opinion on the controversial social media bill being proposed by the Nigerian hallowed house of Senate. The bill is sponsored by the Senate deputy majority leader in the person of Senator N’allah.
The bill has been read twice in the house which means the bill is gradually moving to the point of assent. Basically, the bill is aimed at controlling and regulating the degree of blackmailing of government officials and some government decisions on social media by social network users. Fundamentally, this bill is also aimed to gag the press about some affairs of these government elected and appointed officials which they intend to be confidential.
If this bill is ratified, individual Nigerians that are conscious about the affairs of the government will not have the right to express, criticize or condemn any government policy or decision, which would have deprived us of the fundamental human right of freedom of speech and expression that is boldly stated in section 22, 28 and 29(1) as amended in our sacrosanct constitution.
Although, social media has some disadvantages which also need to be controlled, like false report, cyber booing etc. Nevertheless, the advantages of social media completely outweigh its disadvantages because through social media, people condemn, commend and freely discuss any government policy or decision ranging from grass-root to foreign affairs. Also, through social media, majority of the proponents of the bill got to the senate by blackmailing, condemning and writing scurrilous articles about their predecessors. I wouldn’t propose as valid the argument that Senators have turned their backs on the same social media that got them elected. It has been the norm for them to show two sides, before and after elections. But can we blame them? Circumstances have shown that even the most upright of them who think out of the box often get compromised and are caged in a box by mere affiliation.
We shouldn’t be of the illusion of expecting an embracement to modernization considering the most recent commissioning of the so-called archaic suggestion boxes. A feat some deemed laudable in an era of instant messaging, online forums, video conferencing, emails, faxes, websites and so on. Even with its disadvantages, the importance of the social media in promoting better legislation and by extension, good governance can never be overemphasized in a technologically advancing world.
Nigeria has more pressing issues that need urgent deliberation at the hallowed chambers and gagging the Social Media is certainly not a topic for discussion let alone a bill to be passed. Social media has been a watchdog to our government officials and people have been using it to protest and warn any erring government officials.
With these advantages that people derived from free social media usage, it will be unreasonable for any democratic government to accent this tendentious social media bill.
I urge every social media users to join us in using our social media synergy to disseminate and sensitize the people about this undemocratic bill.
CN Media House