The social media regulation and hate speech bills being debated on the floor of the National Assembly are nothing but a misplaced of priority. This is because the social media problems are fall out of unemployment, hunger and other problems which have made the country the poverty capital of the world.
On the 26th June 2018, the world poverty clock after carrying out their observation and analysis declared Nigeria a poverty capital of the world and while many analyts were still debating this especially, looking at country like India, DR Congo, Syria and other war zone countries, another statistics emerged from an another international organization claiming that the number of people living below poverty line has greatly increased.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) on 11th July, 2019, the number of people living in an extreme poverty is now more than ninety millions though, this is debatable. But looking at the inflation in the price of goods and services, it seems this is not too far from the reality.
Since 2015, the prices of goods and services have continued to increase. As a matter of fact, it appears as if every New Year celebration comes with new price tagged. For instance, a bag of rice which was sold at the rate of eight thousand Naira (N8000) in 2015 is Twenty five thousand naira (N25,000) today and this is applicable to almost all the daily items in the country.
Similarly in 2017, the price of a litre of petrol was jacked up from Ninety seven Naira (N97) to the current price, one hundred forty two naira (N142). This hike really affected the transportation system, house rent, school fees among other things that are essential to Nigerians. However, despite all these, the bills the lawmakers seem to give their utmost attention are social media regulation and hate speech bills.
Social Media regulation bill is sponsored by the Senator representing Niger East District, Sani Musa, and it seeks to make provisions for protection from Internet falsehood and manipulations and other related matters. It’s penalty for defaulters goes up to N300,000 for individuals and up to N10 million for corporate organisations and imprisonment of up to three years or both.
While the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill was sponsored by the deputy chief whip, Aliyu Abdullahi, a Senator representing Niger North District. The bill prescribes death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that leads to the death of another person and seeks to help investigate and prosecute offenders.
Though, looking at the content of the bills, they seems to really address the shortcomings of the new media (social media) but at the same time they failed to understand that these shortcomings become more pronounced because of the inability of the government to curb unemployment, hunger to mention but few.
As a matter of fact, where there is no buyer there cannot be seller, the preacher of hate speech and other related issues are doing that on the social media because they know the state has already bred an army of unemployed youth present on the social media.
These youths most of the times use this avenue to express their aggression by spreading anything spreadable on the social media. As it of a common knowledge that where there is no idle hands to see the workshop of the devil will be very difficult.
Ibafo, Ogun State