•Assures on passage of electoral bill next month
•Recalls Buhari was ready to address parliament in 2020 before misunderstanding set in
By Levinus Nwabughiogu, ABUJA
Following the issues around the Federal Government’s ban of Twitter in the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has described social media as the most potent weapon for good and evil, which must be regulated.
He said though the constitution had guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, it must not, however, be at the expensive of national and individual security.
Gbajabiamila, who featured on a Channels TV programme “Mr. Speaker Chats with Young Nigerians”, said everything in life had to be regulated.
He said the National Assembly would have long enacted a law for the regulation of the social media but for the opposition that had always greeted the move by Nigerians.
He said: “The social media is the most potent weapon for good and for evil. While we welcome the good, we must prepare over the evil. You cannot use the idea of free speech to destroy me.
“Most democracies in the world today are making efforts to regulate the social media and the National Assembly has been considering regulating the social media for long. But each time the issue comes up, Nigerians kick against it.
“It is something we need to do because we have a responsibility to protect every single citizen in this country and that is what we must do,”
Gbajabiamila, who recalled the face-off between the federal government and the Twitter, assured that the National Assembly would always synthesize all the issues, thereto, before taking a decision.
Recall that a joint committee of the House is currently interfacing with the federal government to ascertain reasons for the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
“We are elected by the people to represent them and ordinarily, we should be on their side. But this is not a beauty contest. You must listen to all sides. Government says Twitter poses threat to national security. What are the information available to them that we are not privy to?
“They have also said that it is not about the President’s tweet which was taken down but a mere coincidence. We are listening to government because we have heard from the people.
“We agree that there is freedom of speech but the government is saying that freedom is not absolute. Even at that, the freedom can be protected but not at instance of the country.
“I am happy that twitter and government are already talking. At the end, I hope that the issue will be resolved in the best way possible,” the speaker said.
Speaking on the Electoral Act amendment bill, Gbajabiamila said the House would pass the bill into law before proceeding on annual summer vacation in July this year.
He also decried the misunderstanding of their constitutional expectations by the members of the public.
According to him, the public x-rays the members of the National Assembly in the light of executive functions which included projects execution, whereas their primary responsibility was lawmaking and representation.
Taking questions on the invitation of President Muhammadu Buhari to address the House in December, 2020, which later became a subject of controversy, Gbajabiamila said the President was determined to address the Parliament before a misunderstanding erupted that marred the arrangements.