President Muhammadu Buhari will observe the Eid-el Kabir prayers with his family at home, just as he did during the Eid-el Fitr over two months ago.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.
The presidential aide stated that Buhari’s decision was in line with advisories from the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
While wishing all Muslims safe and happy Eid-el Kabir celebrations, the president reiterated the protocols, as issued by the PTF that large gatherings should be discouraged, as much as possible.
“Where small groups choose to hold the Eid together, face masks are absolutely necessary, as social distancing.
“Advisedly, such prayers should hold outdoors and worshippers are encouraged to bring their own prayer mats,’’ the president added.
Buhari also said that he would not be receiving Sallah homage by religious, community, party and government leaders, as part of measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
While calling for the observance of the occasion as advised by state and local authorities, the president wished all citizens safe and happy celebrations.
NIGERIANS SHOULD SAY NO TO SOCIAL MEDIA DEREGULATION
By: Adémólá Òrúnbon
Social Media is any digital tool that allows users to quickly create and share content with the public. Social Media encompasses a wide range of websites and apps. Some like Twitter, specialize in sharing links and short written messages. And for individuals, social media is used to keep in touch with friends and extended family. Some people will use various social media applications to network career opportunities, find people across the globe with interests, and share their thoughts, feelings, insight and emotions.
Now, the idea of the federal government to deregulate the social media will bring about limitation of government control over media companies, either in removing or loosening government restriction media companies, but it is supposed to make the companies protect users from content involving things like violence, terrorism, cyber-bullying and child abuse. Companies will have to ensure that harmful content is removed quickly and take steps to prevent it appearing in the first place.
Nigeria’s Constitution, like International and African human rights law, protects the right to freedom of expression and provides that any restriction to this must be justifiable in democratic society. Nigerian lawmakers need to ensure the rights of everyone to peaceful criticism of the government without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanctions. The deregulation of social media by the federal government will also muzzle Nigerians, especially the fifth estate of the realm and sentinel of society. Social media applications hold leaders accountable by exposing corruption and policy failures.
If there is any lingering disagreement between the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Nigerian lawmakers, it is unarguably the federal government’s insistence to regulate the social media space. This is coupled with the fact that the minister of information and culture has for the umpteenth time reiterated that there was a need to inject sanity into the space as he has in his assessment concluded that it has totally gone out of control.
It would be recalled that on December 15, 2015 that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) together with 19 Nigerians, Africans and international organizations appended their signatures to an open letter addressed to Nigerian Senators urging them to reject a bill they deemed capable of undermining press freedom, stifle public opinion, and criminalize freedom of expression in Nigeria.
According the coalition, the bill, titled the “Frivolous Petitions Bill 2015,” which passed its second reading at the Nigerian Senate on December 1, 2015, would impose a two-year prison sentence or a 2 million naira (about US$10,000) or both, for any person who “through text message, tweets, WhatsApp, or through any social media” posts any abusive statement against any person and/or group of persons or government institution, according to news reports.
The bill also seeks to compel any person who might want to petition, file a complaint, or report a person’s conduct for the purpose of an investigation to file a sworn affidavit in a court–a requirement that would compel whistle-blowers to reveal their identity and put them at risk, said Frank Tietie, a lawyer who heads the Abuja-based Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER). The punishment for noncompliance would be a six-month prison sentence without the option of a fine.
Also enshrined in the bill is , “A person who makes any allegation or publishes any petition in any paper, radio, or other medium with intent to discredit a person, group, or government institution could be punished with two years’ imprisonment or a fine of 4 million naira (about US$20,000). Despite the wide condemnation that trailed the move to regulate the social media space, Lai Mohammed, ostensibly to exhibit federal government determination in ensuring that the space is regulated as planned, he on October 29, 2019, while addressing journalists in Abuja, said the social media has constituted real danger to the unity of the country.
He added that “What goes on social media is so ridiculous and we will contain it.” While assuaging the nerves of those that were opposed to the move, the minister explained that contrary to insinuations, the government had no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech, saying the campaign was against fake news and hate speech. He said only those engaged in disseminating fake news or hate speech needed to be worried because they would not be spared.
He said, “We cannot allow fake news and hate speech to become free speech because these Siamese twins of evil are capable of inflicting untold damage on our democracy and are threatening our national unity. They represent a clear and imminent danger to our survival as a nation. He assured that the planned social media regulation would be in line with international best practices as obtainable in Singapore, the United Kingdom and other countries.
“No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration. That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both,” he stated.
Despite the fact that the social media bill suffered setback with 80% opposition at senate hearing in March, 2020, and notwithstanding the public outcry that has trailed the move even as at now, there was a clue that the federal government on Tuesday, precisely on October 27, 2020, kick-started a fresh campaign to regulate the social media space, especially in the wake of the #EndSARS protests that were largely driven on social media platforms that cut across, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, WhatsApp, YouTube, and their likes on the virtual space. The indication was glaring when Lai Mohammed said that the federal government was obligated to regulate social media space to curb the spread of what he called fake news. The minister spoke in Abuja while responding to questions when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to defend the 2021 budget proposal.
He said the biggest challenge facing the country is fake news and misinformation, warning that the next war that will be fought in the country and across the globe may be on social media. While citing the recent #EndSARS protests, saying that it was fought on social media, he said: “They mobilized using social media. The war today revolves around two things. Smart phones and data and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to the radio or read newspapers. We are sitting on a time bomb on this issue of fake news. “Unfortunately, we have no national policy on social media, and we need one. When we went to China, we could not get Google, Facebook and Instagram”.
The aversion which Nigerians, particularly the youths, have toward the intent of the government to regulate the social media space has no doubt found expression in Desmond Eliot’s debate on Thursday, October 29, 2020, during the plenary session of the Lagos State House Assembly. The Nollywood actor cum politician, since he bared his mind on the need to regulate the social media space, has suffered criticisms from members of the public and his colleagues in the entertainment industry, after groaning that the influence of social media was eroding the culture of Nigerian society.
Unarguably rattled by the backlash of condemnations that greeted his comment, he was compelled to apologize to the youths. Explaining his debate at the state house in an interview on Arise TV, Elliot said: “As a practitioner, and also for the kind of things I do… I watched it over and over again and I can see where people thought it meant I am regulating the social media space. That was not in any way what I meant. When I do things in my constituency, I put it up on my social media space. Why would I ask for that? Besides, it’s constitutional. I could never have called for the social media space to be regulated.”
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “Who is afraid of social media?” To answer the foregoing question, it is germane to say that those who are ignorant of the fact that criticism is part of the political position they hold, and that they are answerable and accountable to the people, when it comes to leadership, are the ones that are afraid of social media. They are the ones that are ignorant of the fact that regardless of how popular they are that there will always be criticism even as there will always be commendation when they perform well in the representation of the people.
Again, it is equally germane to say that good leaders don’t fear criticism, and that it is only insecure leaders that are afraid of being criticized on social media, indeed, the present administration of APC won all its elections through criticism of past administrations of PDP on the social media, there is no need for any good government administration that cares for its masses here and in diaspora to fear of social media criticism. We need to jettison the idea of social media deregulation and let’s move forward.
Òrúnbon, an opinion writer, journalist, poet and public affairs analyst, writes in from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Can be reached via: orunbonibrahimademola@
NIGERIA MOST PROSPEROUS BLACK NATION IN THE WORLD, PRESIDENT BUHARI DECLARES AT UNVEILING OF THEME, LOGO FOR 60TH ANNIVERSARY
Unveiling the theme and logo for the commemorative activities to celebrate 60 years of independence, President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja described Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, as the most prosperous black nation in the world.
Nigeria at 60 theme, TOGETHER, with the logo was projected and unveiled virtually on the 12 by 20 feet screen at the Council Chambers, before the commencement of the e-Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari.
The President performed the exercise in the presence of some cabinet ministers and other members of the council who joined the meeting online.
”Today, we stand on the threshold of history as we formally begin a series of activities commemorating Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary.
”The task history has saddled me with today is to proclaim a theme that will keep us united, help us forge ahead and unveil a logo that will form the critical pillars which our 11-month modest commemorative activities would rest on.
”Celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp, but the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act differently, has also foisted on us the imperative of a low-keyed celebration.
”Operating within the limitations placed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we created an internet challenge for Nigerians to make a choice from a set of four pre-selected logos that would appropriately define the theme.
”Of these four options, Nigerians from all walks of life participated in making a choice and I am happy to let you know that the logo I would be unveiling is a product of choice from the Nigerian people,” President Buhari said.
Speaking further on the logo, the President declared:
”The selected option depicts our togetherness, a country of over 200 million people whose natural talent, grit and passion glitter like the precious DIAMOND we are.
”This, to me, is a special appreciation to our most precious asset – our people. Everywhere you go, Nigerians are sparkling like diamonds in the pack, whether in academia, business, innovation, music, movie, entertainment, fashion and culture.
”Furthermore, the neatly encrusted Diamond on the Nigerian Map symbolizes our age of treasure, the worth of the Nigerian people with our sparkle to the admiration of the world.
‘‘In the same vein, the pear green and dark green colours should respectively remind us of our warmth, welcoming spirit and love as well as the abundant wealth inherent in our human capital and the richness of our land.
‘‘All these properties make us unarguably the most prosperous black nation in the world and Africa’s largest economy.’’
On the theme of TOGETHER, President Buhari recounted that the country’s founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together to fight for Nigeria’s independence.
‘‘This shall be a befitting tribute to the struggles of our heroes past,’’ he said.
The President thanked members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Nigeria’s Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration for the work they have done so far, reminding them ‘‘that this is just the beginning.’’
President Buhari pledged that his government would work towards greater inclusiveness and look forward to the participation of all Nigerians in the celebration.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
September 16, 2020
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