Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, hinted on Tuesday that the Federal Government plans to regulate social media. The minister, however, assured that the regulation would be in line with global best practices as obtained in the United Kingdom and Singapore among others.
Mohammed said the government has no plans to gag the press or stifle the media as being insinuated, adding that online television stations and web TVs would have to obtain operational licenses.
Making the clarifications at a briefing in Abuja against the backdrop of the ongoing campaign against fake news and hate speech, the minister said the government will never allow anarchists to take over the nation’s airwaves and media space.
Although he was not forthcoming on the details, Mohammed hinted that a committee will soon be set up on the modalities for sanitising the social media.
The minister did not entertain questions on the form of the proposed sanitization, warning that the recklessness in the social media could set the nation on fire if not controlled.
He said: “Gentlemen, since we launched our reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have reached out to us, demanding that we also look into how to sanitise the Social Media space.
”I can assure you that we are also working on how to inject sanity into the Social Media space which, today, is totally out of control.
“ No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration.
“That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both.
“Therefore, gentlemen, we once again seek your support for our efforts to banish fake news and hate speech from our media space.”
Mohammed said the ongoing reforms in the broadcast industry and the proposed regulation of social media were not designed to repress press freedom and free speech.
He added: “But, as I have been saying, we have no intention of stifling free speech or gagging journalists or anyone. Again, this Administration has no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech.
ASUU insists on strike over IPPIS
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Wednesday insisted on embarking on industrial action if the federal government stops the payment of their salaries for their refusal to enroll in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The Benin, Sokoto and Ilorin zonal branches of the union said yesterday that their members would resort to their “no pay, no work” policy if the federal government carry out its threat to stop their salaries.
The Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Mr. Fred Esumen, said during an enlarged meeting of the Benin Zone of the union, held at the Ugbowo campus of University of Benin, in Benin City, that if the federal government sanctions its members, who do not enroll for the IPPIS on the October 31, 2019 deadline, ASUU will embark on “no pay, no work.”
The ASUU membership in the zone comprises University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma both in Edo State; Adekunle Ajasin University (Akungba, Akoko), University of Science and Technology (Okitipupa) both in Ondo State; Delta State University (Abraka) and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) both in Delta State.
Esumen who addressed journalists, declared that the IPPIS policy being championed by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) was a mere directive, which cannot and should not take precedence over the law.
The directive, he said, violates the agreement ASUU had reached with the government in the past and the laws establishing universities via the miscellaneous act as amended in 2003 that vested powers in the Governing Councils to take control and manage funds of the universities including staff recruitment and promotion.”
The ASUU coordinator however, ruled out legal option in the pursuit of justice, saying that government does not honour agreement.
The Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of the union, Mr. Jamilu Shehu, said wednesday at a press conference held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that the attempt by federal government to “forcefully” enroll staff of universities in the IPPIS was not only an illegality, but total violation of university autonomy.
According to him, the IPPIS also violates university autonomy and FGN/ASUU agreement and did not tackle the peculiarity inherent in the nature and structure of universities.
Shehu explained that IPPIS does not capture the remuneration of staff on sabbatical, external examiners and assessors, earned academics allowances part time and consultancy services being rendered by lecturers across universities.
He stressed that the union viewed the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that ASUU’s position against IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail and calculated attempt to sabotage university autonomy.