FG has failed for paying attention to social media, press – Dons

The Federal Government of Nigeria has been described as a failure for making an attempt to amend the Nigeria Press Council law and the recent ban placed on twitter.

Speaking in separate interviews with The PUNCH, Professor of Mass Communication at the School of Communication, Lagos State University, Lai Oso, and a Professor of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, UI, Francis Egbokhare, cautioned the FG to leave media alone and face the business of governance.

Oso while describing the attempt by the National Assembly to amend the NPC bill as an overkill said, ”If they allow it to go, it means that our voice as participants in the democratic process has been taken away from us. Democracy depends on public opinion and you cannot have public opinion if you kill the press. Number two is that even in the constitution, the press is the only institution that has been given a specific function to monitor the government. The media as the watchdog of the society so when you kill and emasculate such an institution, you are promoting lawlessness and autocracy. So, democracy is negatively affected when you don’t have a vibrant press because they cannot do their investigative job, watchdog job and cannot set agenda for the government.

“In other words, when you do that with the kind of provision you have in the constitution, you have more or less killed democracy. The third one is that the power given to the Minister of Information is so enormous that one individual will decide the fate of an entire country in terms of public expression, public opinion, freedom of the press. It has never happened and I do not think I have come across that type of law in any part of the world. If you give an individual, the Minister of Information, such an enormous power it means that all of us are subjects to him. It is a bad law and should not exist.

“Going by some of the provisions of the bill, I think it is an overkill, there are some people who are in power and are bent on destroying the Nigeria Press without taking into consideration how the press has contributed to what we now call democracy in this country.”

Egbokhare also explained that “They should face the business of governance and leave social media and the press alone. As far as I am concerned even paying attention to this matter is an act of failure. You don’t pay attention to such matters is like somebody who is the head of a household and cannot fend for the family and begins to blame the children for raising objections to the kind of food they eat in the house, he then flips over because of that. I think it is a waste of time. The point basically is that you don’t react to just a few situations on ground simply because you’re on the receiving end of press scrutiny. My impression now is that because those who are in charge of government are on the receiving end of the press scrutiny, they are overreacting, forgetting that the same press is there to defend them or anybody, at any point in time, in and out of the government.

“It is a sign of immaturity. The depth to which you hear the castigation of social media, I wonder whether people are forced to interphase with the social media. I find it an unnecessary distraction. The extremities of these is that they are even thinking of taxing Facebook, Google and the rest of them, I wonder what the meaning of that is. This is a country looking for investment from foreign companies, these companies are not located in Nigeria.

“So, what else are you going to tax? There is no government in the world that makes the press its enemy, that deals with the press the way we are heading. They should not take on the press, the press is the best out there to censor itself through its own organisations and so on. There are laws already on ground for people who slander or give misinformation. This is just over-regulation, taking things to the extreme.”


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