SARS, Herdsmen: Economic terrorists with impunity
A file image of the #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Tollgate, before the gunfire.

Say, calls for social media ban misplaced

  • It should be regulated —Yakassai

By Omeiza Ajayi (Abuja) & Ibrahim Hassan (Kaduna)

ABUJA: A former senator who represented Kaduna Central in the  Senate, Comrade Shehu Sani has condemned northern governors, saying they were  playing the Ostrich in respect of their calls for the regulation of the social media instead of concentrating on their immediate challenges.

His position was re-echoed by the National Consultative Front and several northern youth groups including the Coalition of Northern Groups CNG, Arewa Youth Forum AYF and the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum AYCF.

Their positions nonetheless, elder statesman and second republic presidential adviser, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai said there is a need to regulate the social media.

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On Monday, the Northern Governors Forum along with traditional rulers and some other  stakeholders in the region met in Kaduna and expressed support for the Federal government’s move to regulate the social media as a way of curbing the spread of fake news.

In a text message to Saturday Vanguard, Alhaji Yakassai said he supports parliamentary efforts to regulate the social media.

He said; “I am a supporter of the Senator Na-Allah’s Bill to regulate the conduct of the social media operators”.

Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah had in December 2015 (8th Assembly) sponsored ”A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith” which sought to mandate critics of government to accompany their petitions with sworn court affidavit, or face six months imprisonment upon conviction. The bill had since been jettisoned following a wave of public backlash.

With regards to the social media, the bill states that, “Where any person through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media posts any abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2,000,000.00 or both fine and imprisonment.”

However, Sen. Sani said with the crippling state of insecurity in the region, the governors had no reason to bother about social media regulation.

He tweeted; “Northern Governors; Their kinsmen are being slaughtered daily by bandits and insurgents, their people are daily being kidnapped and impoverished by ransom, their women raped and their villages are under siege. Their people live in fear and funerals. Yet,Social Media is their problem”.

Following the abduction of a couple in Kaduna with the bandits later killing the wife, Sani again said; “Forty eight hours after Lalong and his group left Kaduna after lambasting the Social Media and  #EndSARS, the kidnappers and bandits they didn’t want to talk about abducted Sadiq and extinguished the life of his pregnant wife in the same city”.

Groups kick

The NCFront through its spokesman, Dr Yunusa Tanko said the governors missed an opportunity to address fundamental issues in the region.

He said; “At the moment, I don’t think the North has a particular template that is being provided for us to develop the North. Virtually, it is our own youth that are being used for Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, killing and armed robbery. These are alien to our culture. We are not used to such in the North and those are the things that our governors should as a matter of urgency, sit back and think about.

“So for me, I don’t know if there was any agenda whatsoever, all the communique was saying was just supporting the government on how to reduce or manage the social media when there are fundamental issues that can easily be done that can take care of all these things when they are being properly arranged for the interest of the northern youth, and by and large the Nigerian youth.

“As far as I am concerned, their communique was a misplaced priority that has no bearing whatsoever on the development of the North which is supposed to be paramount in the minds of these our governors.

“What do we do in terms of technically giving an advantageous situation just like the idea that was being adopted by the former governor of Kano state, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso. Let’s assume the Northern governors agree and said every state must produce 20 doctors, 20 pilots, 20 chemical engineers, 20 nurses, just on a minimum basis.That is a template”.

The Coalition of Northern Groups CNG on its part said it was well in convergence with the northern governors that “to a large extent, social media platforms have been turned into avenues for dissemination of fake and dangerous information”.

The coalition in a statement by its spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman however said “the vast majority of the cultured northerners are disappointed that such a meeting of northern governors and traditional leaders, elected representatives and top federal government officials from the North should find it more important to dwell on #EndSARS and social media and neglecting the more serious issues of security, youth restiveness, unemployment, poverty, dwindling fortunes of agriculture and general economic decline”.

Also, President of the Arewa Youth Forum, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu advised the governor’s to promote good governance rather than seeking to control the social media.

He said; “AYF frowns at suggestions by the governors which might trigger a sort of interference on the use of social media by Nigerian youths. AYF advises those in authority to promote good governance and strengthen our institutions, rather than attempting to gag or restrict the free flow of news and information in this internet age”.

President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shetima on his part said he found the resolutions of Northern Governors quite disappointing “because the priority of the region right now is insecurity and not social media regulation or political sloganeering”.

He said the resolution fell short of expectations as it did not address the challenges facing the region.

“What sense will it make to people of the Northwest or North-Central who have been grappling with herdsmen, kidnapping and banditry? What sense will social media regulation or sloganeering on restructuring make, for the people of the Northeast, ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency?

“I think the resolution fell short of meeting our major priorities as Northerners right now. Which people are they regulating? Certainly not the ones under severe threat of survival against banditry, kidnapping and insurgency.

“What have they done about the 10million out of school children in the North or destitution? The future of these out-of-school children and widespread poverty are more of priorities than regulating the social media. I think we should be more serious about our real priorities at this stage in history of our region”, he added.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.