From Mathew Jwantu, Minna
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State and former commissioner for information, Mr. Jonathan Tsado Vatsa has said that the ruling party has no moral right to sponsor the hate speech bill or any law for that matter that seek to gag the press.
Speaking at the Social Media Summit in Minna, organized by the Progressive Media Practitioners (PMP), Vatsa said the ruling APC benefited immensely “from this thing we call hate speech”.
“Before 2015, I can remember, we used all forms of propaganda against the ruling PDP, we say anything to make sure that the people hate the party.
“Our focus that time was to ensure that we discredit the then ruling party and we won. We should not be afraid of the poison we gave PDP that time.
“Personally I will not be a party to a law that will gag the press. In some other climes, people would have commenced the process of recalling the sponsor of that bill”, Vatsa asserted.
He commended former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida for throwing his weight behind those opposed to the bill and advised those behind the bill to sponsor bills that will impact positively on the ordinary Nigerians.
meanwhile the Bureau Chief of Channels Television Niger bureau Mr. Emperor Simon while presenting a paper title “ Social Media; a blessing or a curse” said the benefits of the new media depend largely on the users.
Simon maintained that many Nigerians are using the new media popularly known as social media for legitimate businesses thereby boosting the economy of the country.
He lamented that some individuals use the social media to commit various crimes in the society such as yahoo yahoo, cyber-crime and other related social vices using social media which according to him is given it a bad name.
He encouraged students, youths and teenagers to explore the positive side of the new media and desist from any act via the social media that will truncate their future.
The convener of the summit, Prince Daniel Atori in his welcome address, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to impress upon the lawmakers on the need for them to provide dividends of democracy to the people rather than embarking on a wild goose chase of making laws that are of no benefit to the people.
Atori called on the two senators from Niger state, Sabi Abdullahi, Niger North and Sani Musa, Niger East who moved the motions for the hate speech and social media offenders to hearken to the voice of the people by withdrawing from the bills
He challenged the national assembly to reconsider and drop these bills and ensure that they propose a bill that will improve the welfare of media practitioners instead of proposing bills that will gag the media that fought tirelessly for the democracy the country is enjoying today
In her presentation on the bad and ugly sides of the social media, one of the Facilitator of the Summit, Justina Asishana, said while the social media had changed a lot of things for good, there were some bad and ugly effects of it, which the youths needed to be wary of.
She gave cyber-bullying, stalking and misinformation as the ugly effects of social media, while rejection, sleep disorder, speech defects, depression, anxiety and a high rate of suicide as the bad sides of social media. P
On his part, Prof. Nicholas Iwokwagh, the Dean of School of ICT in to Federal University of Technology, FUT, Minna presented a paper on ‘Social Media Governance and Development in Nigeria: Interrogating the relationship, examining the impacts and prospects for the future”.
Participants at the summit, included two public secondary schools in Minna, the Press Club in the state College of Education, the Fati Lami Abubakar Institute of Legal and Administrative Studies, youth leaders, civil society organizations, public relations officers and Journalists among others.