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FG Will Allow Free Speech; But Social Media Influencers Must “Self-Regulate” – Information Minister

APC Interim Publicity Secretary Lai Mohammed

By Niyi Adeyi

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has guaranteed that the Buhari Administration will not stifle free speech by seeking to regulate the Social Media or abridging the rights of the citizens.

The assurance was given by the Minister, in Lagos Monday during a meeting with a cross section of Social Media Influencers.

The Minister however stated it was important for them to self regulate in order to maintain their credibility.

Information Minister assured that the Federal Government (FG) did not
intend to stifle free speech or abridge the rights of Nigerians to air their views freely, adding ”We are not about to regulate or stultify the Social Media. 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,” Alhaji Mohammed stressed.

The Minister in a statement by his SA, Segun Adeyemi, described as alarming the spiralling level of hatred among Nigerians, especially the educated ones, on the Social Media in recent times, noting that the kind of debate that was being carried out on the Social Media was exploiting the fault lines in the country’s national unity.

”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,” Mohammed warned.

The FG image maker thanked Social Media Influencers for their contributions to the success of the last general elections in the country that saw the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the ruling party and urged them to partner with the Buhari’s Administration to drive the change agenda, which is aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the way things are done in the country.

He however cautioned: ”This is not a partisan call, since all Nigerians, irrespective of their party affiliation, will benefit from a better Nigeria”.

The Minister urged the new Media influencers to feel free to relate with his Ministry, to obtain facts and figures on issues of national interest as well as give feedback from the citizens to the Government.

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