Stella Dimoko Weekend Arena - Social Media Bill And Other Matters.....


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Friday, November 06, 2020

Weekend Arena - Social Media Bill And Other Matters.....

There has been so much noise about the proposal to regulate the activities of Nigerians on the social media space. 

Called the ‘Anti-social Media Bill’, it was introduced by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in November 2019 and seeks to criminalise the use of the social media in peddling false or malicious information. This is one year after its introduction was rebuffed by many, but the issue has come to the front burner again, special thanks to the creative way, the social media was deployed in achieving the relative success the ENDSARS protest recorded, until the ‘enemies of Nigeria’ scuttled it by hiring hoodlums to infiltrate their ranks. But it sent determined signals, warning shots, that the people can rise any day soon and take over their country.

This would naturally put the politicians on a panicky mode. The result is this idea to regulate activities of people on the social media. That this was re-echoed by Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information, must have stoked the furore.

But in reality, save from the fear of misapplication of the proposed law by people in power, everything is right about regulating how people conduct themselves on social media spaces. The truth is that there are several mischief-makers who come online to sow seeds of discord with unverified claims. For instance, during the ENDSARS protests, some interests tried to divert the narrative when they came online to claim the Igbos were behind the arson in Lagos. 

Some gullible people bought the idea, forgetting that the southeast was also burning. In the northern part of the country, there were social media posts to the effect that many of the police officers and soldiers being killed were from the north, and this led to fears of reprisals there. About the Fagba crisis in Lagos, I saw posts online, claiming that Hausa/Fulani people have brought in their militia to kill the Yorubas and vice versa. Although, these claims were unfounded, many gullible people believed them and could have followed their emotions. That is the danger of unrestrained use of the social media. 

Some complicate issues by sharing the lies under the cover of ‘copied’ or ‘forwarded as received’. Something needs to be done about such inciting activities online or we would all be consumed in an uncontrollable crisis soon. Perhaps, the social media companies and service providers can assist by activating tracking software that makes everyone traceable and responsible for what they post online, so the originator could be held liable when killings occur due to their misinformation.

Of course, with social media, has come the biggest threat to information management, which is Fake News. So many stories out there are contrived to suit a particular purpose and only a handful of even the educated Nigerians have the capacity to understand the dynamics of information flow. Some, in spite of their chain of academic degrees, do not know how to distinguish posts from genuine and reliable media platforms and others that are cloned to deceive people.

 Trusted media websites are often parodied by changing domain addresses to push evil agenda. Many people still believe that whatever a Google search throws up is true, forgetting that Google is just a search engine to unearth whatever finds its way on the internet. And only a fraction of the information on the internet is true! The extra work lies in discerning what is factual or true. There are guidelines for every reader online, but that is not the reason for this article.

However, a bill to curb the inflammatory excesses on the social media is not the only type of regulation we need in Nigeria today. As we prepare a bill to regulate the social media, there should also be a bill to regulate Good Governance, which will criminalise any act of bad governance by those in power. Government should pursue this with as much verve as Uncle Lai Mohammed seems to be pursuing the bill on social media regulation. 

There should be a bill to criminalise sending politicians’ children abroad to study when their inactions have kept the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on strike for ages. This will help keep our universities running, like they were when majority of the people who today occupy the leadership rungs of Nigeria were in school.

There should be a bill to criminalise patronising foreign healthcare facilities, when our hospitals, even the ones constructed inside Nigeria’s seat of power, have been rendered ‘mere consulting clinics’.

So when Uncle Lai Mohammed or our Senators in the National Assembly think of bills, let them broaden their scope of thought to accommodate everything that is wrong with us as a country. What is good for the goose……


  1. Always on point. Welldone Sir

    The most Complex B

    1. I urge everyone to get their voters card and get ready to vote out those old cargoes.

  2. After using social media yto gain power, they want to regulate it? May God punish them.

    1. Don't mind them,when another
      party takes over in future
      we would see how they will
      handle its. kodus Ngozi you
      are a brilliant write

  3. It depends how they want the regulation to be done, if it is by tracking the posters of fake news that is commendable but they shouldn't make it difficult for us to get the right news also. Thanks for the write up sir.

  4. Evil government!
    They want to turn Nigeria to North Korea... May their plans to regulate social media fail woefully!
    Same social media that helped them to win
    Yeye government

  5. They should remove the logs in their eyes before trying to remove the spec in our eyes 😏

  6. I love this, bills to curtail their evil vices should also be introduced.

  7. Very insightful write-up..

  8. Very insightful write-up..


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