The Nigerian government has maintained its stance on the regulation of social media, stating that it would not back down on the proposal.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said no amount of criticism could deter the government from going ahead with its planned sanitization of the media.
Mohammed, who spoke in Abuja on Thursday during a meeting with the online publishers, said it was the right thing to do as Nigeria was not alone on the measure.
He, however, stated that the government was yet to come up with the modalities for the sanitization, saying it was not going to be a unilateral process.
He said: “In recent days, as you must be aware, the campaign has assumed a heightened dimension, especially after we announced, on Oct. 29th 2019, our plan to sanitise the social media.
“Let me say, straight on, that the intense debate – and the debate has indeed been intense – that has been generated by our announcement, is a welcome development. This is because the announcement has pushed the issue of the social media to the front burner. We can only benefit from such debate.
“We have been monitoring the debate. Some analysts and commentators have supported our plan while others have opposed it.
“An interesting part of the debate has been that even those who oppose the regulation have acknowledged the dangers inherent in the irresponsible use of the social media, especially by anarchists and non-patriots.
“We thank everyone who has spoken out, and we hope the debate will continue.”
The minister also allayed fears of muzzling the media and stifling free speech. He said such fear were totally unfounded, added that the government has no plan to muzzle the media.
He said: “In the first instance, we have not told anyone how we plan to go about the regulation. This is because this will not be a unilateral process. It will involve all stakeholders coming together to chart the path forward. Let me announce here that we have just kick-started the process.”
“Again, the fear of stifling free speech or muzzling the media is totally unfounded. We have no such plan. As we speak, people are on the social media criticising the Administration.
“We have no problem with that because it is part of democracy. People are using the traditional media to criticise the Administration.”
“Finally, and for the avoidance of doubt, while we welcome a robust debate on this issue, the criticisms in certain quarters will not stop us from going ahead with our efforts to sanitize the social media space.