By Dr. G.A. Onuoha
The move by the Federal Government to “regulate” social media is nothing short of a brazen attempt to muscle free speech on social media – pure and simple.
Free speech is a core ingredient of any functional democracy without which society would regress into the Hobbesian “State of Nature” where life becomes “nasty, brutish and short”.
Is that what this Federal Government wants for the 21st century Nigerians in this digital age of the information super-highway, in this fluid internet age.
Former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar ‘Adua, and Jonathan all governed Nigeria and Nigerians WITHOUT “regulating” the social media. Why then should this Federal Government “regulate” social media?
What has changed? Hate speech? What is a “hate speech” in a hate environment? Besides, there is sufficient legislation on libel or even criminal defamation in our statute books. And so why do we now need special legislation to “regulate” “hate speech”? And actually, is a “hate speech” in the estimation of this federal government?
Talking about “hate speech”, there was a surfeit of hate speeches during President Jonathan’s Administration, even directed at President Goodluck Jonathan himself, yet nobody, NOT EVEN ONE PERSON, was ever arrested or otherwise harassed by the very democratic civilian administration of Dr. Jonathan.
I ask again, why does this Federal Government need special legislation against “hate speech”. The activities of the killer Herdsmen, Bandits, and allied killer squads in this country without any meaningful Government response coupled with all the lopsided Federal appointments going on have already created the necessary conditions for Nigerians, especially those most affected, to voice out their frustration and despondency on the social media. How can you flog a child and at the same time, prevent him or her from crying
The Federal Government should rather obviate those conditions of insecurity, injustice, and hardship that ultimately fuel the so-called “hate speeches”. Nigerians must talk and no amount of legislation against so-called “hate speech” will prevent them from crying out. Nigeria is NOT and will NEVER regress to the BANANA REPUBLIC. This is the 21st CENTURY!