Northern leaders, comprising governors, traditional rulers, and senior political appointees from the region have backed the campaign by the federal government to regulate social media. The resolution, among others, was reached at a meeting the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) held with traditional rulers, some federal government officials, including the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, and leaders of the National Assembly in Kaduna. The Northern Governor’s Forum chairman Solomon Lalong, who read the communiqué called for a major control mechanism and censorship of the social media practice in Nigeria. Lalong said the contribution of social media to the #EndSARS protests threatened the oneness of the country. Some Nigerians spoke to Daily Trust Saturday on the call for social media censorship by the northern governors.
Samira Usman Adam, 30, Girl Child Advocate, Kano
The move is good and bad at the same time. The good side is that the move would help in tackling the spread of fake news and the bad side is that it could deprive so many people of their opinions.
Salisu Idris Zago, 33, Kano, Businessman
Social media is the only platform for the masses to express their feelings and cry out to the government on things bothering them. However, people must be cautious of their posts. Censoring social media is not too but the timing is wrong. The authorities should rather channel their energy towards protecting lives and property than censoring social media. The north is bleeding already with issues ranging from banditry, Boko Haram, and kidnappings, and the only medium for people to express their dismay and demand for security is social media. They have used social media to call out government officials and other security agencies to buckle up. Social media has positive and negative impacts. However, the positive impacts outweigh the negative impact therefore censoring social media is not the right thing and the people will not support it.
Dr. Mainasara Yakubu Kurfi, Kano, lecturer
I do not support social media censorship because it may lead to a denial of freedom of expression. Rather than censoring social media, the FGN should embark on media literacy among users of social media for them to understand how it should be used to promote peace and unity among the multicultural and multi-religious people in Nigeria. People should be encouraged to express their views freely but in a decent way without defaming anybody’s character or committing sedition or blasphemy.
Comrade Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani, 36, Politician, Kaduna.
It is a very welcome development, and I am fully in support of it. With the censorship, only legitimate information will be posted on social media which will in the long run address disinformation. I am also in support of this statement by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed that needs technology to shut down social media at will when it becomes a menace to the country’s security.
Ibrahim Adam, Doctor, Lagos
Social media should be censored. This is why I support the social media bill which is being talked about. This bill is the ideal way to go for a better Nigeria.
The bill will help regulate whatever it is that is being shared on various major platforms. Most of the developed and the developing countries have social media bill in place, which they use to control whatever it is that’s being shared on their various platforms. Now imagine if the bill in Nigeria were to include a penalty of spending 6-12 months in jail, don’t you think this might help reduce the level of fake news being circulated? As you know already our generation is the internet generation, the bill could help control obscene contents thereby reducing the chances of depleting the morals of both the young and the old.
If a bill were to be put in place, it would help not just in the security aspect but also in the aspect of morality and other ways. This bill is the ideal way to go for a better Nigeria.
Yusuf Mairiga Shekarau, Jos, Plateau State
Social media censorship is a troubling trend that has serious implications for freedom of expression. Citizens should be free to criticize the government on social media platforms. Any attempt to muzzle such criticisms, therefore, may well be unconstitutional. Social media is just the latest platform where people can exchange ideas, debate pressing social and political issues, and criticize the government. It is a place for the exchange of ideas, a forum for debate on pressing social and political issues, and an environment for political dissent and government criticisms. The government has no obligation whatsoever to impose barriers to platforms of expression that already exist. Doing that firmly means a deliberate infringement of the right to freedom of expression which has been enunciated by the law.
Mohammed Sabo Keana, coordinator of ACRI, Abuja
My reaction is in two ways. I have come to consider social media as the fourth realm of the government because it has empowered the citizens in demanding accountability from the executive, judiciary, and legislative arms of the government. We have seen these arms lack accountability and transparency in their operations and social media has come as a tool in the hands of the citizens to hold the government accountable. It is one good thing that has happened to us censoring it will be taking the power in the hands of the citizens. On the other hand, we have seen that fake news being churned out unchecked has grave consequences. You can imagine what fake news can do when left unchecked. I see a lot of danger in that because of the recent EndSARS protests. If there is a way to regulate the fake news aspect would be great. I am against censoring it in a manner that we take away the voice of the citizens.
Zigwai Ayuba, 35, Development Communicator, Kaduna.
Nigerians need to be taught self-censorship. Social media is a social space that an individual connects at will especially adults. In this contemporary era, top leaders, private organisations, and government organisations have created their social spaces within social media because they are able to reach billions of people with specific messages they intend to make public. Social media is a two-edged sword that can be positive or negative. The recent clamour for the censorship of social media is connected with the high rate of criticism of both political leaders and government policies by citizens. Rather than channelling so much energy in trying to censor the social media, it will be great if leaders can revive the National Orientation Agency to sensitise citizens on fact-checking information before any reaction or response. If social media is to be censored then we may need to censor what happens in clubs, and other social spaces where both young and old, top leaders/politicians and citizens converged. In such places which are often owned by some of the leaders, messages to be disseminated on social media are often fabricated.
Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Mahmood Wuyo, 50, Sardauna of Hayin Banki, Kaduna.
I agree with the late Ronald Reagan said, “That the most precious right a society can enjoy is freedom of expression and access to multiple sources of news and information.” I believe social media provide that opportunity, globally. However, those who abuse this right could be sanctioned. We should have standards. For me, social media is now an integral part of everyday life. Any attempt to gag or muzzle social media should be considered as a violation of our fundamental rights to free expression and association.
Olushola Oladimeji, Creative Copy Writer, Abuja
It’s just another ploy to frustrate Nigerians, the youth specifically. The Government has been heavy on this tactic since the #EndSARS movement.
It’s very disgraceful to see policymakers debating our freedom of expression on social media when there are more pressing issues in the country. It doesn’t make any sense but it has proven since time immemorial that Nigerian public office holders are baptized into another world where the plight of the people are forgotten once they get into office, it doesn’t matter if they campaigned and promised to solve them. If you ask me, it’s all a fuss.