A video is trending were the Hon Minister for Information Lai Muhammed averred that Nigeria has no national policy for social media. He was and is inspired by the mega activities in social media and strongly believes it should be controlled. He also cited his experience from a visit to China.
What I am advocating here is without prejudice to whatever plans the Hon Minister has or is making. I simply write as a professional and a Nigerian stakeholder. I had in another write up strongly urged the government not to use strong-arm tactics to manage the social media.
Forever, government officials and some legislators have been strongly advocating a strong move against what they consider the “excesses” of social media. They have some points but their approach cannot work. Except we operate like North Korea, no one can muzzle social media. Yorubas day “Ori bibe ko ni oogun ori fifo”. You don’t cut your head off to ameliorate a headache.
See, this matter is very simple. And I speak on authority that we have made suggestions to the government on this matter. We have encouraged the Hon Minister on what I believe we ought to do to take care of these matters. I have also had the opportunity to speak at the Villa on the same subject.
NIGERIA DOES NOT NEED A SEPARATE POLICY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. ALL WE NEED IS TO REVIEW OUR OLD NATIONAL COMMUNICATION POLICY AND UPDATE AND UPGRADE SAME TO TAKE CARE OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA. PERIOD.
The National Communication Policy we have now is old and many developments have taken place since it was put together in Badagry many years ago. We have grown into a nation of 200m people and have transited into Democracy. We cannot run on the old policy.
I have said it on social media and have sent official advice on the same. We need to update and upgrade it. It will make the Hon Minister’s job easier. When we have a new policy, we can draw strategies from it and share it with stakeholders like Nollywood, our musicians, mass media practitioners, marketers, and the creative industry. The Ministry will just play the role of a gatekeeper. Then we will have a single perspective and objective. Then we can also tackle social media.
And it’s simple. Let’s assemble qualified Nigerians in the media and the creative business, in government and in academia, the trades and professions and creative practitioners like Nollywood, etc. Make the group robust, make the terms of reference all-encompassing, and get them to work. Let them review the old policy and propose a fresh one.
Until we do this, simply trying to single out social media because they use it to embarrass some people in government will not work. It’s like singling our SARS instead of a thorough review of our policing system. Members of SARS are first of all policemen! Let’s have a robust national communication policy that covers all, including the way social media should be managed. Then we can more effectively do something about its use and abuse.
Hon Minister Sir, it is still my humble opinion this view should be considered.
Thank you, Sir.
This piece is written by Lolu Akinwunmi LA – A Member of the NIGAC Advisory Board and this position is strongly SECONDED by the Nigerian Global Affairs Council.