The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has warned that with the level of misuse of the social media that has made fake news order of the day, Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb. The Minister made the statement yesterday when he appeared to defend his 2021 budget before the House of Representative Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values. Mohammed said, “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.
He continued, “When we went to China, we could not get google, Facebook and Instagram. You could not even use your email in China because they made sure it is censored and well regulated.
According to the Minster, while citing a riot that broke out in Ethiopia this year June that lead to the killing of a popular musician, the government of the state had to shut down social media for two days before public order was restored, this as the country hosts the AU headquarters.
He noted that what their government did was the only way out considering the scenario. The Minister urged the National Assembly that what Nigeria need now is a law that will regulate a social media space in the wake of this fake news era.
He revealed that the biggest security challenge Nigeria has at present is misinformation and fake news, saying the government of Buhari administration saw this coming since 2017 and raised alarm but little attention was paid to it. Though he admitted that social media has come to stay, but lack of law regulating it will not spell good for the country as the tendency of its abuse is high.
The Minister disclosed that during his campaign against social media regulation, “the next war will be fought without a shot being fired, but with the use of fake news. We didn’t stop there; we went on a tour of all media houses to solicit their support in the fight against fake news. We launched the campaign to regulate social media which was bitterly contested by the stakeholders.
He said the #ENDSARS “war” was fought on social media.
“They mobilised using social media. The war today revolves around two things: smartphone and data, and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to the radio or read newspapers.
Mohammed said we are in an era where if you start arguing with your children, they will begin to quote social media for you. That is why there is a need to regulate the space and sanitise it through empowering security agencies with modern technology.
Meanwhile, Odebunmi Olusegun, the Chairman of the committee urged the Federal Government to critically look into the matter before it gets out of hand.