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Social media bill: bad business for youth development in Nigeria
22. December 2019 at 19:05
If you are Nigerian, news in town is that of the reading and debating of the Controversial Social Media Bill. The Bill has generated lots of attention within and outside Nigeria given that it has passed the second reading in the Nigerian Senate. It seeks “Jail” and “death penalty” for offenders for putting out false information or “Hate Speech” on Social Media. Here is why I believe such a Bill spells doom for Youth Development in Nigeria:

“It will take us backward”. Recently, the Federal Governments announced that it will be making available

a Sexual Offenders Register. Also, the Kano state govt. recently announced a law that only girls who have

completed secondary school education can be legally married. Social Media has played a huge role in

achieving such inspiring feats in the crusade against rape and child-bride syndrome. Reports on social

media {genuine and false) went viral. They’ve all contributed their one cents to sanitizing our clime.

Imagine what an absolute withdrawal of this power will do?


“It will lead to reduction of Youth Champions and Advocates”. Campaigns like #BringBackOurGirls, which

helped put pressure to secure the release of some chibok Boko Haram victims, were brought to limelight

and caught the eye of the globe via Social Media. In the Social Media Bill (as referenced by “Paradigm

Initiative”), Should you come in conflict with the authorities over a publication? You can’t take the issue

to court until you have appealed to the law enforcement. This is an infringement to a right to fair

hearing. From all angles, a typical Youth Advocate in this context will feel like a victim, leading to

discouragement. 


“It will distract us from genuine problems”. Nigeria has the highest number of child brides in Africa –

some 23 million of them. A few days ago the Nigerian Health Minister for State, Adeleke Mamora broke

the news that Nigeria now has the highest number of HIV-infected babies in the world. Eleven (11) states

are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act (2003), namely Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa,

Gombe, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states, which explains why there is high prevalence of

child marriage in these states. As at October 2018, Nigeria has 13.2 million out of school children. Over

23% of our total population is currently unemployed (This is an all-time high record), this explains why

more youths are going into crimes and other social vices. We’ve been keeping them idle, we should be

preoccupied with how to keep them productively engaged.


“It will worsen corruption”. Youth Oriented and Social Media Inclined organizations such as “Follow the

Money” led by Hamzat Lawal and “Tracka” led by Oluseun Onigbinde have helped saved Billions of Naira

that are ritually lost due to citizens lack of awareness and drought of budget tracking instruments. In

2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over 400 Billion Dollars to corruption. In 2018, the country

ranked 144th in the 180 countries listed in Transparency International’s Corruption Index. What we need

to do is encourage more

Follow they money(s)

and 

Tracka(s),

not silence them.


“It is anti-development”. The proposed social media Bill document was recently implicated when a

journalist unveiled that the Bill was copied word for word from the Singaporean Social Media Bill.

Singapore, although doing quite well economically, has been however scoring low globally in terms of

human rights and youth development.  The “total human population” of Singapore is less than 6 million,

Nigeria has at least 60 million youths – we are obviously looking in the wrong direction. If we are

thinking development, we should look in the direction of the likes UK, US, even countries with smaller

human population like Scandinavian countries and Ireland are doing great at youth development. We

should look in their direction. 


For those who might want to hide under the banner that “Canada announced her Hate Speech Law” to

sell a false narrative, I will leave you with a recent tweet of ‘Andrew S. Nevin” (an iconic Economist and

Canadian Based in Lagos, Nigeria); “I’m proud of Canada’s hate speech law...hate speech isn’t when you

criticize the govt...it is when you spew hate against identifiable groups, the definition of which is decided

by the independent judiciary”. 


“It won’t end with Nigeria”. This is the sad part of the entire story. Nigeria is the hub of internet activity

in Africa, with over 100 million internet subscribers. If this Bill should fly in Nigeria, given her influence, It

will spread to the rest of Africa. Other African nations will adopt this for various reasons.


We can’t afford to allow that happen. It is like taking the whole continent back to the Stone Age.


Cite This Article As: Victor Oyelade. "Social media bill: bad business for youth development in Nigeria." International Youth Journal, 22. December 2019.

Link To Article: https://youth-journal.org/social-media-bill-bad-business-for-youth-development-in-nig





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