November 23, 2015

We won’t stifle free speech, but social media Influencers must self-regulate – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, Social media

Alh. Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has assured that the Buhari Administration will not stifle free speech by seeking to regulate the Social Media or abridging the rights of the citizens.

The Minister, who gave the assurance in Lagos on Monday during a meeting with a cross section of Social Media Influencers, however said it is important for them to self regulate in order to maintain their credibility.

Alh. Lai Mohammed

Alh. Lai Mohammed

”Let me assure you that the Federal Government does not intend to stifle free speech or abridge the rights of Nigerians to air their views freely. We are not about to regulate or stultify the Social Media.

This explains why we are asking you to self-regulate. That is why we are encouraging you to rein in the impostors among you and show restraint when dealing with issues of national unity, issues of Nigeria’s sovereignty, as well as issues concerning the lives and well-being of Nigerians.

”What I am saying in essence is that you must self-regulate in order not to self-destruct. Self-regulation allows you to weed out the charlatans among you in order to maintain your credibility and ensure your survival. Lose credibility and lose it all. That is the stark reality. If you must survive and grow, you must not compromise your credibility,” he said.

The Minister described as alarming the spiralling level of hatred among Nigerians, especially the educated ones, on the Social Media in recent times, saying that the kind of debate that is being carried out on the Social Media is exploiting the fault lines in our national unity.

”It (hate debate) is adding fuel to some low-intensity fires and, if left unchecked, could conflagrate and consume all of us. Remember, you need a peaceful country before you can even dream of greatness. You need a united, strong and virile country to provide the necessary environment for your dreams to come true.

”A marriage between Nigerians of different tribes that should be hailed for solidifying our unity as a people has become one of the reasons to vent incredible hatred and openly predict catastrophe for our nation on the Social Media. The New Media is a powerful platform that has democratized access to information and strengthened citizen journalism. But it is also a double-edged sword that must be wielded with caution,” he said.

The Minister thanked the Social Media Influencers for their contribution to the success of the last general elections in the country that saw the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the ruling party, and urged them to partner with the Buhari Administration to drive the change agenda, which is aimed at achieving
a paradigm shift in the way we do things.

”This is not a partisan call, since all Nigerians, irrespective of their party affiliation, will benefit from a better Nigeria,” he said.

The Minister assured that his doors are open and that he is willing to work with the Social Media Influencers in the interest of the good people of Nigeria.

”Feel free to call us to clarify issues, obtain facts and figures on issues of national interest and to also give us a feedback from the citizens. You are great Influencers, and you set the agenda. There is enormous power in your fingertips, and no one can ignore you,” he said.