The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government has no plans of shutting down social media but must regulate it to prevent the spread of hate speech.
The Minister disclosed this on Saturday while visiting the offices of The Nation and TVC, which were burnt by hoodlums during the curfew necessitated by the unrest that followed the hijacked #EndSARS protests in Lagos.
What you should know
The Minister came under heavy criticism last week for calling for the regulation of social media after he blamed social media for aggravating stories related to the #EndSARS protests during a defense of the 2021 budget proposal of the Information Ministry in Abuja.
“If you go to China, you cannot get Google, Facebook, or Instagram but you can only use your email because they have made sure that it is regulated,” he said.
“We also need technology and resources to dominate our social media space.
”They (#EndSARS protesters) mobilized using social media. The war today revolves around two things. Smartphones and data and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to the radio or read newspapers.
“We are sitting on a time bomb regarding this issue of fake news. Unfortunately, we have no national policy on social media and we need one. When we went to China, we could not get Google, Facebook, and Instagram. You could not even use your email in China because they made sure it is censored and well regulated,” the Minister added.
During his press briefing on Saturday, Lai Mohammed stated that the FG has no intention of shutting down social media as it would be undemocratic. However, the Government will not let purveyors of hate speech destabilize the nation.
“We did not at any time say that we will shut down the social media,” he said.
“Social media has come to stay and it will be an antithesis to democracy to shut it down because it is the fastest way of disseminating information.
“However, we must regulate social media in a manner that it does not become a purveyor of fake news and hate speech.
‘We will not fold our arms to allow purveyors of fake news and hate speech to use the social media to destabilize the country,” he added.
He also stated that the FG predicted the negative effects of social media on Nigeria back in 2017, which was a catalyst to the national campaign on fake news in 2018.
“We saw as far back as 2017 that the next epidemic that will hit Nigeria and the entire world is fake news and misinformation,” he said.
“Based on that, we dedicated an entire National Council on Information meeting in Jos to the issue.
“After this, we launched a national campaign on fake news on July 11, 2018, where we stressed that the next war will be fought without a shot being fired but with the use of fake news.
“We did not stop there. We went on a tour of all media houses seeking their support against fake news,” he said.
He added that news reports of attacks on farmers by herdsmen in 2017 were fuelled mostly by fake videos circulating on social media.
FG, organized labour meeting over petrol, electricity tariff increase postponed to Monday
The meeting between the FG and Labour unions over petrol and electricity tariff increase has been postponed to Monday.
The meeting between the Federal Government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) which was slated for Thursday following the recent increase in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff has been postponed to Monday.
The change in date is to allow the federal government to consult properly on the pump price of petrol with organized labour insisting on the reversal of the price.
According to a report from Channels Television, this decision was reached after both parties had reconvened on Thursday evening, days after it was said the labour leaders walked out of an earlier meeting with the federal government on the same issue.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, while addressing the meeting in Abuja, said, what happened on Sunday was not a walkout but a recess and that both the government and the labour unions were working on making the country better.
While giving assurances that the government would make sure that resolutions reached would be for the benefit of the Nigerian people, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, thanked the labour leaders for their show of patriotism, stressing that what happened on Sunday was a recess and not a breakdown of discussions.
Ajaero, who represented the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who was absent at the meeting, disagreed with the remarks of the labour minister and the SGF that the last meeting was a recess, insisting that it did not end peacefully.
Other government officials present at the meeting include the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk.
What you should know: Nairametrics had reported that the organized labour had suspended their planned nationwide strike and protest in September following an agreement reached with the Federal Government in which the new petrol pump price should remain unchanged and a 2-week suspension of electricity tariff.
They also agreed to set up a technical committee on electricity tariff reforms to look at the justification of the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff.
However, following another increase in petrol price a few weeks ago, the NLC criticized the government’s action and said it was a breach of an agreement with the government during their previous negotiations.
While saying that the union will not accept such arbitrary increases in the petrol pump price, the NLC President asked the government to revert to the old price.
No unregistered sim on our networks since September 2019 deactivation – Pantami
Pantami has disclosed that there is no improperly registered SIM on any network in the country since 26th of September 2019 deactivation.
The Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has disclosed that there is no improperly registered subscriber identification module (SIM) on any network in the country since the 26th of September 2019 deactivation.
This statement was made by Dr. Isa Pantami, according to the information contained in the press statement issued by Dr. Femi Adeluyi, Technical Assistant on Information Technology to the Minister.
According to the information contained in the statement, the minister disclosed that based on the report submitted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there is currently no improperly registered SIM on any Nigerian network.
He added that in the event of evidence to the contrary, the Honourable Minister will sanction any individual or institution found wanting.
Furthermore, Dr. Pantami wrote to all security agencies on the 14th of October 2019 asking them to collaborate with the Ministry, and reach out whenever a crime has been aided and abetted through the use of telecommunication devices.
The minister added that no request by security agencies for assistance in the identification of owners of SIMs used for crime has gone untreated in his office.
What you should know
In a similar vein, the Honourable Minister has directed the NCC to ensure that they put modalities in place to tie the National Identify Number (NIN) to SIMs, as well as see to it that no unregistered SIMs are sold.
The Minister has also directed the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to significantly scale up the number of monthly NIN registrations.
However, Dr. Pantami recently presented a Draft National Policy on Digital Identity for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which took place on the 11th of November, 2020.
The memo was approved and will support in the provision of Digital IDs for Nigerians, thus assisting in the implementation of the Policy to tie NINs to SIMs.
100,000 tons of cocoa stranded at ports due to CBN documentation – Cocoa exporters
Cocoa exporters have lamented 100,000 tons of cocoa beans being trapped at Nigerian ports due to CBN documentation approval.
The Cocoa Exporters Association of Nigeria has disclosed that 100,000 tons of cocoa beans are trapped at Nigerian ports due to a CBN documentation approval, which forces exporters to ensure that sales from export are repatriated to Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Pius Ayodele, President of the Cocoa Exporters Association of Nigeria, in a report by Bloomberg. He added that the approval process could take as much as 40 days from CBN.
A Cocoa industry stakeholder told Bloomberg that CBN paused exports for over 2 weeks to ensure exporters complied with the new rules, “We have five containers at the ports, some of which have left the factory for well over two months now.
According to Bamidele Ayemibo, the Lead Consultant at 3T Impex Trade Academy, “The central bank is just enforcing what has always been in the books, which is don’t export without a declaration. People are exporting without a declaration.”
However, exporters said they are not against the rule, but against the bureaucratic nature of the ruling, as shipping lines can’t enforce the law and are better operated through inspection agents.
In October, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commenced the distribution of cash and inputs to cocoa farmers under the Anchors Borrowers Programme. Cash and inputs worth N770million were distributed to 221 cocoa farmers in 10 cocoa producing states in Nigeria.
Nigeria is the fourth largest exporter of cocoa beans globally, behind Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia, according to the National Export Promotion Council. Cocoa exports in Nigeria is projected to grow annually by 4% in the coming years.