The move by the Buhari administration to regulate social media got a boost on Monday as governors and other leaders from Northern Nigeria declared support for it.
The administration has made regulating social media its priority, blaming the social media for the spread of ‘fake news’ which it says can destroy the country if left unchecked.
Critics have said the government is simply trying to stifle critical and dissenting voices.
A bill to regulate social media, proposed by a lawmaker of the ruling party, APC, was rejected over a year ago in the parliament after opposition by a lot of Nigerians.
The government has, however, insisted it is determined to regulate social media and has been appealing to majority of Nigerians to support its move.
On Monday, the Northern Governors Forum expressed support for the government’s move which it said was to check the spread of fake news in the country.
The forum expressed its support in a communique issued by its Chairman and Governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, after its meeting in Kaduna with traditional rulers and other key stakeholders in the region.
The meeting, which said it took note of the devastating effect of the uncontrolled social media in spreading fake news, called for major control mechanisms and censorship of social media practice in Nigeria.
It also expressed support for the reform of the police to strengthen their capacity.
“Forum appreciates the major reforms going on in the Police Force and pledges to support Mr. President on this course.
“The meeting resolves to support the Nigerian Police Force to serve the country better and calls for the strengthening of trust between the people and the Police,” it said.
The forum set up two committees to push for statutory roles for traditional rulers and engagement with youth and civil society organisations.
The Committee on Roles of Traditional Rulers is headed by the Emir of Lafia, Sidi Bage, with two representatives from the National Assembly and a minister as members.
The Committee on Youth and Civil Society Organisations has the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmad Bamalli, as Chairman
The forum has representatives of elders, youth, women and persons with disability as members from each of the three zones.
Others are representatives of Muslim and Christian clerics, business community and police.
“These engagement committees are to commence work immediately,” it said.
It appreciated the roles traditional rulers played in containing the #EndSARS protests in the region and collectively agreed that traditional rulers be given formal roles in the governance architecture of the country.
The meeting rejected and condemned what it described as the ‘subversive acțions’ of some #EndSARS protesters and endorsed “the indivisibility, indissolubility and oneness of the nation.”
It commended the National Assembly and the Presidency for being proactive in addressing the issues of protests across the country.
The governors also called for an amicable resolution of the ASUU strike to enable students resume their studies.
The forum agreed to hold the meeting regularly and expand it to involve other critical stakeholders such as religious leaders, business community and youths leaders.
It appreciated the roles of religious groups, JNI and CAN, for their positive interventions in resolving the #EndSARS conflicts.
The forum called for collective efforts in addressing the lingering challenges of the region, such as the Almajiri system, insecurity, illiteracy and poverty.
The forum also appreciated the youth in curtailing the spread of hooliganism, thuggery and other separatist tendencies during the #EndSARS protest for police reform.
“The meeting expressed concern over the low level involvement of relevant stakeholders in the implementation programmes of the government and calls on the relevant agencies to review implementation strategies to make for maximum impact and benefits,” it said.
The meeting was attended by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and
Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, among other dignitaries.
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