Nigerian government seeks cooperation in regulating social-media

Aanya Igomu, Abuja

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The Nigerian government has called on the mainstream media industry in the country to work with it in proffering solutions to the social media challenges in Nigeria.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu made the call in Abuja at the Annual General Meeting of the All Progressives Congress Press Corp.

Mr. Shehu said that the ongoing media review is not intended to muzzle or weaken the media.

“It makes sense that you as media stakeholders come around the Minister of Information and Culture and formulate the kind of regulation you want so that it is not that there is top bottom approach, so that government will not be accused of imposing a regulatory mechanism on the media. The minister is saying come, sit down with me and let us talk about it. And I was told that the day he called on NUJ, they walked out of him, if that the report is true, i think it is very unfortunate. I think we need to come around him and offer media driven solution so that at the end of it this country will have a vibrant and effective social media communication system.”

While pointing out the importance of social media to national development, Mr. Shehu however noted that it has become harmful to some members of the society.

“Social media has become a problem for many families because rights of women and children are being abused. There is a need to protect vulnerable members of the society,” he said.

Mr. Shehu added that contrary to what some people are saying, the fact that the media space is vibrant and the government is giving out licenses indicates that the government is not trying to restrict the media.

“It is not political, the government has no reason to undermine or weaken the mass media. When you realize it, in a country where the mass media are being suppressed, where there is no freedom of expression and information, you find out that the media space tends to decline, it becomes smaller, media houses close down but the Irony of what is happening in the country is that while some civil society groups are crying here that the freedom of expression is being threaten and in any case we know why they were shouting because they are looking for donors abroad who will send in U.S dollars for the protection of hate speech, that basically is a selfish thing. But in a country where we are expanding the media space, the last time we did, we licensed about 300 radio stations and as I’m speaking to you now this administration is processing almost 500 requests for radio stations. Media cannot be expanded, if it is being oppressed,” he said.