It might as well be 1983 again because it seems Hari-bubu is back to his human rights infringing ways, and in the immortalized words of Black Panther’s M’baku, “we will not have it oh”.
Since the Goodluck era, there have been discussions around a government clamp down on social media by way of laws that will help “regulate” its use.
This controversial bill saw Good luck Jonathan distance himself from the National House of Assembly who seemed gung-ho about it, by signing the freedom of information bill into law.
In 2015 the conversation arose again this time in Buhari’s tenure, he also followed in Jonathan’s footsteps and distanced himself from the draconian bill stating that the Nigerian house of assembly was “on their own”.
Now however, President Buhari seems to be singing a different tune, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, shared his sentiments recently on the “negative influence” that social media has on Nigeria.
He was quoted saying “The thing is that there is a tendency to see things from a negative point of view when your opinion is shaped and colored by the social media. It’s always been heard that the default position of the social media itself is to be negative, so people have turned out to ignore grand reality and project images that are very negative.”
I’m sorry, what?
Yeah I know that my grandma’s WhatsApp broadcasts about Jesus being awesome, and me being likely to die in five days if I don’t share, can be a bit much. I mean we all have our WhatsApp broadcast horror stories – but it’s important to get things in perspective here.
There is indeed just cause to freak out at the alarming rate fake news is being generated and disseminated on social media. It is a phenomenon that has brought the world to its knees on several occasions, from Telegram being used as recruitment tool by ISIS, to the alleged undermining of US 2016 elections by Russia.
World governments blame social media for its “wild west” approach to running the darn thing and social media blames the government for not regulating them as they should.
In all this our once great, now peripheral nation, puts its mouth in the conversation. Countries with the where withal to tackle the menace don’t even know where to begin, it’s now us, with our rickety infrastructure, us with our epileptic power supply, us with our plethora of issues that would surely cause me to exceed my word count, that want to tackle social media regulation?
Apart from of our sheer lack of knowhow and our need to face more pertinent issues, my biggest gripe is my mistrust for the Nigerian government. The bill is nothing more than a poorly disguised move to quell free speech, all in time for 2019 elections. It seems to me that our president has grown weary of all the backlash and wants to find a way to silence Nigerians, again, we will not have it oh.
The bill has reached its second hearing in the house, and we have every reason to be very afraid. No matter how far and wide fake news spreads and no matter how devastating its effects, it will always be better than “regulating” our freedom of speech.
Credit: Tobi Akhanamoya
Tobi Akhanamoya is your typical millennial. She loves selfies, has an occasional penchant for punctuating with cuss words and wants to “change the world”.
She works as a corporate communications officer at MTN Nigeria by day and by night? Well….you’ll find her asleep on her comfy bed and fluffy pillow after a long hard day of stirring up controversy.
Instagram : @Osione_Akhanamoya