Tuesday, 8 December 2015
MY TAKE ON THE MOVE BY NIGERIAN SENATE TO CENSOR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY NIGERIANS.
Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah, a senator representing Kebbi state in the Nigerian Senate, recently presented a bill in the Nigerian Senate to censor use of social media by Nigerians. This bill, if passed into law, would scrutinize activities of Nigerians on the social media: Facebook, Twitter, etc. The bill also proposes 2-year jail term or a fine of N2, 000, 000 for any Nigerian who posts anything considered offensive or unsavory against the government and political leaders of Nigeria.This move by Senator Na'Allah, is seen by many Nigerians as an attempt by the Senate to suppress free speech by majority of Nigerians, who do not have access to the conventional media, to air their views on their country's affairs.
For me, the proposed social censor bill before the Nigerian Senate, is not an important national matter. It is not a thing of priority and should not be given any attention by the Nigerian Senate.
Nigeria is in a democracy now and freedom of speech is one of the major pillars of democratic government, the world over. Our democracy would face grave dangers if freedom of speech by ordinary Nigerians, is trampled upon by the Senate. The Senate is therefore, advised to desist from further debating on the social media censor bill before it and concentrate its attention and energy on pressing national issues and challenges facing Nigeria, with a view to proffering solutions to them.
While I have no doubt that the social media bill before the Nigerian Senate will not see the light of the day, I also recommend areas of priority in Nigeria's national life that demand and deserve urgent attention and solutions from the Nigerian Senate:
1.The Nigerian Senate should make urgent and well thought out legislation on how to revive and diversify the Nigerian economy with a view to saving it from collapse in the face of dwindling fortune of crude oil, which is the country's mainstay.
2.The Nigerian Senate should work together with the executive arm of government to fix Nigeria's moribund refineries and also build new ones for Nigeria to attain energy independence and for Nigerians to have easy and abundant access to affordable refined petroleum products. The Senate should save Nigeria from the financial hemorrhage of dubious petroleum subsidies.
3.Senator Na'Allah should send a bill to the Senate that would encourage compulsory and if possible, free primary and secondary education for Nigerian female children, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, who are forced into early marriage by the culture and tradition there.
4. Senator Na'Allah should send a bill to the executive, that would encourage job creation in all sectors of the economy for teaming unemployed millions of Nigerian youth.
5.The Nigerian Senate should synergise with the executive arm of government and fix the power sector in Nigeria.
6.If Nigerian Senate claims that it is copying China that does not allow free speech by its citizens; I humbly advise that it desist from that, bearing in mind that China is not a democracy while Nigeria is. However, things are working in China irrespective of the fact that she is not a democracy. This is because corruption is not entertained in China and the penalty for indulging in it is death sentence. I hereby advise Senator Na'Allah to forward a bill to the Senate that would recommend and uphold death sentence for corrupt Nigerian government officials who loot state resources and keep ordinary citizens of the country in perpetual hardship and penury.
7. The Nigerian Senate should cooperate with the other arms of government in Nigeria to adopt the true federalism that would empower every state in Nigeria with the legal and administrative capacity to harness and apply economic resources in its domain for development. This is the only way out of the economic challenges and underdevelopment facing Nigeria. I wish to warn that REAL, DANGEROUS and DESTRUCTIVE economic TSUNAMI, with grave consequences, will befall Nigeria, SOONEST, if she failed to adopt true federalism. The possibility for the price of crude oil to fall more than what the world is experiencing now is very high, with OPEC members feuding amongst themselves, over crude production quota. Now is the time for Nigeria to act. Failure to act, we would get to a stage where the Arab Spring kind of revolution would engulf Nigeria, as a result of economic hardship and suffering inflicted by the government, on the ordinary citizens of Nigeria.
8.The Nigerian Senate MUST pass a bill into law that would address and correct the numerous political, economic and social imbalances at the root of all the crises and woes bedeviling Nigeria. All forms of ethnic and religious killings in parts of the country MUST stop, and all those behind such killings MUST be brought to justice. Nigeria is a country built on injustice. This is the reason there is no peace in the country and peace would continue to remain a mirage to Nigeria except justice prevails in all areas of the country's life.
I wish to end this write-up by quoting my mentor, the legendary Nelson Mandela: ''For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. As the world marks the United Nations Human Rights Day on 10th December, 2015, I call on the Nigerian Senate to respect and uphold the inalienable rights of freedom of speech by the ordinary citizens of Nigeria. Let them devote their time to using their offices as 'LEGISLATORS' to put in place legislations, measures and political strategies that would ensure the welfare and security of citizens of Nigerians. This is the SUMMUM BONU that every responsible and responsive government owes citizens of state, anywhere in the world.