ONYEANUNA ONYEDIKACHI, Abuja –
The Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, Thursday,said that government is committed to enhancing its institutional presence on the internet so that all Nigerians regardless of their social or demographic status can have access to government information and services.
Adebayo stated this in his keynote address while declaring open a 2-day retreat on leveraging on ”Social Media for Good Governance’ organized by the ministry in Abuja on Thursday.
“The ministry is committed to enhancing the institutional presence of government on the internet so that all Nigerians regardless of their social or demographic status can have ubiquitous access to government information and services,” he stated.
The minister also stated that the retreat was designed to share knowledge and information arising from recent research and analysis on social media; review good practice on policies and programmes promoting social media for good governance as well as discuss issues relating to effective use of social media in Nigeria
“Particularly worthy of note is the fact that worldwide, the youth are the most active on social media platforms through which they have made their opinions known and their voices heard in various countries.“From the Arab Spring in Egypt to our 2015 general elections; the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the recent United States presidential elections, the growing importance of social media in shaping society and how it is governed can neither be overemphasis nor underplayed.’the minister said.
“In Nigeria where our youths constitute more than 50 percent of our over 180 million population, the social media have become too critical to be ignored or undermined.”
He also stated that the social media can also be nuisance to the government and society at large if not moderated.
“On the other hand, social media can also be nuisance to the government and society at large. Mudslinging, hate speech, cyber bullying, rants and unbridled ventilation of anger are common features in these platforms.
“It is therefore very necessary to moderate these counter-effects to promote positive, development-driven and responsible social media usage platforms,’’ the minister added.
He mentioned some challenges to moderating social media platforms to include lack of effective legislation; abuse of political gains; use of fake ID’s and cross-border threats (cybercrime and other security concerns).
Shittu added: “Hence, whereas social media has become an important tool in expressing public opinion at one side, it has also become a challenging factor for the government due to its opaque and less effective framework.
‘It is an amalgam of different services/ websites, available on different platforms such as mobile phones and Personal Computers (PC), both with MRT sets of attributes.” He therefore charged operators on the need to shun the negative aspects and leverage more on the deliverables.
Also speaking at the event, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on ICT, Mr. Lanre Osibona, said government never intended to control, or restrict the social media but wanted to make sure that people do not use the social media to cause confusion in the country as people were posting fake news, pictures and videos that were not real and capable of causing social disorder.
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