Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has described the Social Media Bill currently at the National Assembly as quite scary and anti-democracy, calling on the media to remain vibrant in spite of the huge challenges it was facing.
Mr Tambuwal, who stated this in Sokoto on Thursday while declaring open the 15th All Nigeria Editors Conference, ANEC 2019, with the theme: “A Distressed Media: Impact on Government, Governance and Society”, said such proposed draconian legislation has no place in our democracy.
The governor added that there were enough provisions in our laws to deal with people whose actions could undermine national unity and cohesion.
He, therefore, urged the media to remain vigilant, saying that the media had a responsibility to educate and mobilise Nigerians to defend democracy.
“We must join hands to checkmate anti-democratic elements and return our country to the path of constitutionalism, progress and development,’’ he added.
According to Mr Tambuwal, the media is also feeling the heat of the harsh economic environment.
“I urge you not to despair, keep faith and remain unbowed.
“The difficult times will give way to a better and prosperous future but there is serious work to be done.
“The media may also initiate a serious conversation on the place of the media in the age of information technology.
“People now prefer to read newspapers online.
“Online publishing may need to be prioritised. You may need to strategise on how to aggressively canvass for advertisement online,’’ the governor said.
According to him, our television and radio stations must reposition in order to compete favourably in a globalised world.
“I also urge the media to beam the searchlight on some untoward developments in our polity.
“While the Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man, the media remains the first place of call of any distressed citizen,’’ Mr Tambuwal said.
He suggested the need to search for creative and innovative ways to boost Internally Generated Revenue in order to keep afloat
He said the media occupied a special place in the history of Nigeria, noting that the media was in the forefront of the struggle for independence.
“It (media) waged a relentless battle against military authoritarianism. It has continued to serve as a check against the excesses of those in power.
“The media keeps us on our toes and ensures that we remain accountable to the people.’’
In his opening remarks, a former Ogun Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, noted that the media did not deserve the Hate Speech Law.
“I don’t think anybody will want to make the law to punish some of us who fought for democracy.
“We must all fight with anything that we have. I offer myself to lead you as a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress to lobby the lawmakers.
“We are trained journalists; we have our Code of Conduct instituted by the Nigerian Press Organisation.
“We have our standards. The social media is not part of the mainstream media. We are not part of the social media,’’ Mr Osoba said
He thanked Tambuwal for hosting the Guild of Editors in his state.