Adeolu Akande, board chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says only good governance will “silence” social media users from criticising the government.
Speaking as a guest speaker at the annual lecture of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Oyo state chapter on Tuesday, Akande said the media promotes good governance by playing the role of watchdog, civic forum, and agenda-setting for the government.
The NCC chairman, who spoke on the topic “Revisiting the role of journalism in Good Governance in Nigeria”, said the agitation against the social media is because of criticism of the government, noting that if the government performs well, the social media is bound to respond positively.
“When government performs well, the social media is abuzz with praises for the government. When government fails, social media is abuzz with condemnation. The best way to silence the social media is to strive and do well,” Akande said.
He said the media is important in the quest for good governance because many elements of good governance like transparency, accountability, greater participation in government, access to information, rule of law, and human rights, cannot be achieved without the media.
He also identified paid news journalism and social media as two new developments with great impact on the role of journalism in promoting good governance.
However, Akande noted that paid news undermines the credibility of the media before the public because news is supposed to be well researched and objective.
“The public takes whatever news that comes from the media as gospel truth. When it turns out that such news is not true or not objective and altruistically produced, this erodes the confidence of the public in the media and weakens its capacity to promote good governance,” he said.
He said social media produces news in real-time and offer other services the media offers in a way that challenges the continued existence of the mainstream media even while its excesses has raised concerns in many quarters.
Akande called on the federal government to extend its financial interventions in sectors like banking and aviation to the media industry because the sector is going through a trying period and should not be allowed to go into paralysis because of its critical role in promoting good governance and national development.
The social media bill entitled, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation 2019″ had generated controversy since it was introduced in 2019.
The bill was sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, senator representing Niger east, who had said Nigeria needs the legislation because it would protect its “fragile unity”.
But most people who opposed it argued that it is a ploy to stifle free speech.