Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has joined the list of Nigerian politicians calling on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to regulate social media.
After Buhari was elected for a first term in 2015, information minister Lai Mohammed promised that the government “will never regulate social media” because it not only played a role in ensuring Buhari’s emergence but was also crucial for the survival of democracy.
Mohammed, who now accuses government critics of peddling fake news and young people of arguing with their parents with facts gotten from social media, has since changed tone.
“We must acquire the technology to switch off the internet at will,” he said after waves of anti-government protests that were held on the streets and online.
Governors in northern Nigeria have also called for the regulation of social media.
Akeredolu just joined the club.
“If we cannot be disciplined enough to be able to know that we don’t churn out news that can cause a lot of damage in the society,” the Ondo governor said on Channels TV today, “then the government itself must be proactive enough to find a way to control it”.
Observers warn that any move to regulate social media would eroded individual and press freedoms and send Nigeria back into the “dark ages” of military oppression.
One of those “dark ages” was supervised by Buhari after he, then a military general, sacked a democratically elected government and seized power in 1983.
During that time, the constitution was suspended, journalists were arrested and flogged, activists were illegally arrested and jailed, and rival political voices were silenced.
But Buhari now says he is a “reformed democrat”.