The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has denied allegations made against him concerning his new role as minister, and impending decision to censor social media.
He gave his words that the Buhari Administration will not constrain free speech by regulating or controlling the Social Media or trying to curtail the rights of Nigerian citizens.
Speaking at the meeting with a cross-section of Social Media Influencers, the Minister who assured them of no regulation by the government in Lagos on Monday revealed that it is however important for them to self regulate in order to maintain their credibility.
In the words of the minister;
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”
However, he stressed the importance of self-regulation as a pre-requisite for avoiding conflict saying “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.”
The minister, alarmed at the rate of hatred being spewed on social media among Nigerians placed emphasis on the threat it poses to national unity.
According to him;
“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.”
The minister expressed his gratitude to the social media influencers for their role in the general elections and encouraged them to support the Buhari administration and his Change movement.
”This is not a partisan call, since all Nigerians, irrespective of their party affiliation, will benefit from a better Nigeria,” he said.
While reminding the delegates of the power they wield as social media influencers, the minister also stated that he is open to provide information when needed, and also ready to work with the social media influencers to bring about an effective tenure as Minister of Information and culture, to the benefit of all Nigerians.
”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 on your fingertips, and no one can ignore you,” he said.