October 17, 2018

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This anti-social media bill is corruption o – Viola Okoli

This anti-social media bill is corruption o – Viola Okoli

Now that our new “Social Media Gagging” bill has suddenly found itself an orphan, isn’t Nigeria a wonderful country to be a part of?

One morning you wake up and a suspiciously dressed individual who looks like he would roast the twitter bird with some yaji if it so much as flew anywhere around his head, has sponsored a bill which on the face of it looks innocuous but has a hardened core of pure evil.

In a nutshell, the bill which proposes up to two years in prison or a fine of N2 million or both for anyone who posts an “abusive statement” via text message, Twitter, WhatsApp, or any other form of social media; was simply saying to Nigerians in layman terms, “If you misyarn, your eye go see pepper.”

 Not nice!

 Especially when you viewed the bill against the backdrop of its promoters – members of the All Progressives Congress, a party which rode to power in the 2015 Nigerian elections through a virulent and malicious misuse of social media platforms.

stop-censorship

 Countless were the times when the party reps like the present Kaduna state governor who was then an Internally Displaced Politician, would take to social media and begin to spit out undiluted hate and bile laced venom in the way of the then President and his wife. It was no longer about the office but about the occupant and no insult was too vile, no invective too low that it was not hurled by the vertically challenged change agent.

The current Minister of Information who was then the spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress lived up to his first name – Lai. He would lie up and down; he would allege from morning to night; he was always calling one press conference or the other or inciting one confusion or the other – he didn’t need the truth as a base, all he needed was to cook up some idea during some wild moments in his flights of fantasy.

 It was awful.

 And when the elections heated up, these same liars in human skin began to reach deep into their bags of tricks to pull out complete lies with which to deceive the public into releasing their votes. Have we all forgotten the memes so soon?

 “We will provide free school lunches for every child in Nigerian public schools.”

“We will bring naira to parity with the dollar. N1 = $1.”

“We will defeat Boko Haram.”

“There will be no Office of The First Lady.”

“We will pay every unemployed Nigerian youth N5,000 monthly.”

“We will provide IMMEDIATELY we assume office, jobs for at least 1.5million Nigerians.”

 Why they chose to stress the word “immediately” is what still boggles the mind. Were they so stuck on lies that they believed the scales for measuring immediacy were like perfection – a moving target?

 What on earth were they thinking? Can all the liars in APC please stand up? There is a social media bill you might be interested in.

We still have those BBM broadcasts, tweets, Screen grabs, Facebook updates and SMSes and in retrospect, this is one instance where I would have loved to see a retroactive decree. Backdate it to two years ago and based on that, we can have all the politicians cooling off their heels in some prison or the other while the rest of us normal human beings can focus on the task of taking Nigeria forward.

 In case you were not aware, social media gagging bill is otherwise known as “APC chop and clean mouth” bill which is equal to corruption.

We warned you all at the peak of the virulence of the last campaigns, that APC was nursing a dog that would come back to take a huge chunk out of it’s exposed behind. We cautioned that there should be a propensity to stick to the truth and divorce malicious propaganda even in playing politics, but an audience like the Nigerian audience makes that temptation too hard to resist.

 We are here now. The citizens have learnt the power of their voice and of citizen journalism– they are almost ungaggable now. You cannot settle down to a meal of pounded yam and turn around to accuse the mortar of being too loud when it is pounding pepper for your neighbour’s meal.

  • Petitions to recall the sponsor of the bill – check!
  • Street protests, rallies, marches and demonstrations – check!
  • Social media campaigns and protests – check!
  • Dragging the overfed yet underdressed senate before the United Nations – check!

 In a nutshell, leave social media alone and face other legislative issues.

 Perhaps with the memories of the negative and long lasting effects of retroactive press gagging decrees, the president was quick to dissociate himself from this one – It wasn’t him!

The extremely garrulous Senator Dino Melaye who was caught on camera attempting to use the passage of the bill to witch hunt his perceived social media nemesis to extremely hilarious consequences has equally washed his hands off this bill – It wasn’t him either!

So, who is behind the passage and promotion of this bill? Who supported it thus far?

 Aside from Senator Na’Allah who was last seen attempting a wardrobe change hoping that that would effectively disguise his complicity in an attempt to gag free speech? Who else sponsored or hoped to benefit from the passage of this bill, who else can we hold responsible? Nobody? Ba wahala!

Dear Social Media Gagging Bill, it is unfortunate that you are suddenly being disowned, abandoned and orphaned in such a hilarious manner, but eRats are not smiling. We may duel and fight and grab each other by the throat daily but one thing binds us all together – a wish to see a greater and better Nigeria.

 And until you are dead and truly buried, there will be no stopping us.

 #NoToSocialMediaGagging

  

 

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