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Federal Government Has Begun Social Media Sanitisation —- Lai Mohammed

Peter Okunoren

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The Federal Government has said it had begun the process of sanitizing the social media space to prevent it from setting the nation on fire.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this yesterday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. “As a matter of fact, we have already put in motion the machinery for this.

“We have written letters to the major stakeholders who would nominate representatives and we are going to sit down together to decide on how best to confront this menace,” he said.

Mohammed said the government had the responsibility to keep the country together, adding that social media would not be left alone to destabilise the nation.

The minister said the government welcomed the debate that had followed the decision and announcement to sanitise the social media space and the airwaves.

“We are glad about the criticism because what we set out to achieve is to bring the matter to the front burner of discourse.

“We are not under any illusion that the people will take this hook line and sinker.

“We are, however, glad that there are more people who believe that the social media poses imminent danger to the unity of Nigeria, especially as they have become merchants of fake news and hate speech,” he said.

Mohammed stressed that those who opposed the regulation of the social media had not denied the fact that the platform was being used by purveyors of fake news and hate speech with grave consequences.

“Their concern, largely, which is unfounded, is that it might lead to the stifling of the freedom of press or gaggling the media. However, we want to make it clear that it is not our intention to do this.

“The only people who are afraid of the decision to sanitise the social media and the airwaves are the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.

“It must be put on record that Nigeria is not the only country that is doing something about this. Germany, Egypt, Russia, India and the United Kingdom (UK) are all doing something about regulating the social media platform,” he said.

Mohammed expressed concern that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other media professional bodies, which were supposed to support the regulation, were kicking against it.

“This is amusing, because they should be glad as they are the ones we are protecting.

“The honest truth is that the established, well trained professional journalists do not indulge in fake news and hate speech because they have regulatory bodies already.

“The NUJ has a regulatory body and Code of Conduct and they are largely not the one responsible for the dissemination of fake news and hate speech.

“I am, therefore, really surprised that such criticism is coming from them because they are the people we are protecting and they are the ones that will benefit the more from the government action,” he said.

The minister reiterated that no amount of criticism and opposition would stop the regulation of social media and the airwaves.

“We heard all kinds of threat; some even went as far as calling for the removal of the minister.

“Let me assure them that the minister is not perturbed by this and we are focused.

“No amount of intimidation, sponsored articles in any form is going to stop us from regulating social media.

“This is not just a menace to the government; many people have committed suicide because their reputation had been destroyed by the social media,” he said.

Mohammed reiterated that the Federal Government would neither gag the media nor stifle the freedom of speech in regulating social media platforms.

On the regulation of the media space, the minister said he would receive recommendations on the implementation process, in a few days, from the committee he recently inaugurated.

He said the committee had also received a lot of attacks from some critics that the intention was nothing but an attempt to gag the media and stifle free speech.

“Again, our answer to this is simple. Under our watch, hate speech will not become free speech.

“Let me say once again that only those who are purveyors of fake news and hate speech have things to fear from these recommendations,” Mohammed said.

According to the minister, the regulation of social media and the airwaves is in the national interest.

BIG STORY

Power Sector Has Broken Down Completely, Govt Wasted N1.7 Trillion In Three Years — El-Rufai Drops Bombshell

Peter Okunoren

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The power sector has broken down completely, the government declared on Thursday after its activities were reviewed by the National Economic Council (NEC)

The government said there is no result to show for the N1.7 trillion financial support it gave to the sector in the last three years.

It added that Nigerians must now be involved in finding solutions to the ‘broken’ sector.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai made the government’s position known at the end of NEC’s January meeting at the State House in Abuja.

E-Rufai, who is the Chairman of a committee set up by NEC to harmonize the Power Sector Reform, told reporters that the government was desirous of ending the challenges hindering the sector.

He said the committee’s request to throw the process of finding a solution to the national power crisis open was approved.

According to him, beyond experts and other critical players in the sector, ordinary Nigerians, who have ideas and experience the power would be invited to bring in memoranda, as part of the plan to solve the intractable national power problem.

He said: “On the status of the ownership of the distribution companies, the committee met five times since its inauguration on the 5th of December, we’ve made significant progress in getting presentations from all the stakeholders in the electricity supply industry and we all agreed that the electricity supply industry is broken and the situation of the power sector is a national emergency that requires all hands to be on the deck, to interrogate why the sector is not working for the overall progress and benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“We’ve received presentations from virtually all the stakeholders. We came to NEC to ask that we co-opt the Association of the Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria and the Association of Electricity Generating Companies in Nigeria as members of the committee and NEC approved that.

“We updated NEC on what we have found so far and promised that work on this will continue and we’ll submit our report in the shortest possible time.

“But the electricity industry is quite complex and technical and even those of us that have been asked to be members of the committee are learning a lot from the various presentations, sometimes conflicting presentations from various stakeholders in the power sector.

“However, I think there is the will on the part of all the members to really go to the root of all the problems and speak to ourselves in an honest national conversation and find a way to fix this sector because this country will never make progress, will never create jobs or industrialize without a functioning electricity industry and that’s the goal that NEC has given us beyond just establishing the status of ownership of the distribution companies.

“Everyone in Nigeria is affected by electricity and we want to hear your views; what you think is wrong with the sector, what your experiences are, dealing with the distribution companies, what you think are solutions to these problems. “Sometimes, solutions are not technical, but commonsensical. So, while we have all the technical experts on the table, we also want to hear from the Nigerian public

“We hope that when we receive these memoranda, we will curate them and analyze them. We’ll summarise them and various suggestions and solutions will be published as part of our report to NEC. After that, we can go to the government of the federation for decisions.

“The objective is how do we fix the power sector. This is the question we want to ask every Nigerian and we want suggestions. We want experiences, we want everything out there and we’ll protect the confidentiality of anyone that chooses to give us confidential information, but we need everyone on deck.”

On the power sector reforms and the required steps to take, El-Rufai said: “There are other issues. The entire sector is broken, the tariff is an issue, the way the privatization was done is an issue to many.

“So, there are many issues. What we have agreed on is that there is a fundamental problem in the electronic supply industry. And that you cannot privatize an industry and then over three years since privatization, you pump in N1.7 trillion of government fund into it, that is not privatization.

“The Federal Government has supported the electricity sector with N1.7 trillion in the last three years and this is not sustainable. So, solutions must be found.

“Today, there are 80 million Nigerians that do not have access to electricity. We cannot continue like this.

“We want to listen to Nigerians and get their own views and incorporate those views in every solution that we proposed.”

On the plan to leverage on pension funds to grow the nation’s key infrastructure, including power, the governor said the system is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that it is about the best way to develop at a leap.

“On the question on pension funds, I think there is a bit of misunderstanding about this. First of all, it is not true that this money is people’s money. The people contribute and the government also matches their contributions, so it’s part government money, is part workers contribution.

“Every month when you contribute, there is also employer’s contribution. Secondly, you have to ask yourself the question, if this money is there what is the best use for the money.

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BIG STORY

Femi Adesina To CAN: Fix Your Bias And Sympathy, You Got It Wrong On Beheaded Adamawa Pastor

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Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina has called out the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), asking them not to ”mix bias and sympathy” following the recent beheading of Reverend Lawan Andimi, the Chairman of CAN in Michika Local government area of Adamawa state by Boko Haram insurgents.

Adesina in a post on his Facebook page on Friday accused the Christian leaders of painting Buhari as an ”anti-christian” stating that “security is number one on the priorities of the Buhari administration”

The statement reads:

“It was very sad and doleful to hear of the eventual beheading of Rev Lawan Andimi, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Michika Local Government, Adamawa State. He had been abducted by terrorists earlier this month.

“I felt the killing of Andimi very keenly, not for the fact that he was a clergyman, but “any man’s death diminishes me because I’m involved in mankind.” (John Donne).

No man should die the way Rev Andimi was killed. Beheaded by insurgents, who then proceeded to gleefully announce his decapitation. It should not happen. Evil and senseless. It is a classic example of man’s inhumanity to man, and those who did it have long lost their humanity if they ever had any.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has sympathized with the family and relations of the dead. I have also been in a state of melancholy over it. May God have mercy.

“I am mourning Rev Andimi, not just because he was a cleric, but because he was a human being. And my distress was increased by the statement issued on the tragic event by the central body of CAN. Too many things were mixed together, which the apex Christian body in the country should have been mindful of, lest it departs from the mind and essence of Jesus Christ, our perfect example.

“For years, since he emerged on the national scene as a military leader, and later as an aspirant for the highest political office in the country, and eventually as President, spirited attempts have been made to position Muhammadu Buhari as anti-Christian faith. It worked against the man for a long time, till the majority of Nigerians saw through the smokescreen, and made up their minds against demonization.

“That was why as much as some church leaders tried to dress Buhari in borrowed robes in 2015 and 2019, millions of Christians went ahead to vote for him. The inexorable truth is that in Nigeria, Muslims can’t wish Christians away, and vice-versa. We shall all stay here, and salvage it together.

“However, the statement by CAN on the death of Andimi gives hint that the leadership of the Christian body still harbors some of the old narratives that have been discredited, and from which majority of people have purged themselves, except the willfully irredeemable.

“Hear CAN, through its Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Evangelist Kwamkur Vondip, speaking for Rev Samson Ayokunle, President of the body: “Maintenance of security is the least responsibility of any government that knows its worth. We are once again calling on President Buhari to purge himself of the allegations of nepotism and religious favoritism by reconstituting the leadership of the security forces.”

“Let’s consider this part of the press statement. Maintenance of security is the least responsibility of any government that knows its worth. Not news. The Constitution says so. But don’t you glean a hint of bile and bias in “that knows its worth?” Oh, CAN, this is not the mind of our Master. He gives praise when due. Security is number one on the priorities of the Buhari administration. It has pumped time and humongous resources into it, and while the job is not fully done, we are not in the same position we were before the administration came. At least, to those who want to be honest. And CAN should be honest. That is what we’ve learnt from our Master.

“There were times bombs used to go off in this country like firecrackers, and deaths were in many scores. Now for months on end, you may not hear of a single bomb blast. Emirs that had fled their palaces, like those of Askira and Uba, have returned after two years. Secondary schools that were shut for two years in Maiduguri have reopened. Roads long closed due to activities of insurgents are back in use. Kidnappers are being arrested in droves in different parts of the country. Clashes between farmers and herdsmen are reducing to the barest minimum. Yet, CAN is talking about a government that knows its worth? The Buhari government does, and honest Nigerians know it, and wish it more successes. Security, in any country of the world, can only be work in progress.

“Hear again: We are once again calling on President Buhari to purge himself of the allegations of nepotism and religious favoritism…Wait a minute. If any purging is to be done, is it not by those making allegations? The allegations lasted for many years, but the truth eventually overtook them. If CAN would then still dwell on the discredited accusations, it must be the one to purge itself, as millions of Nigerians, including Christians, have already done. The insecurity in the country is not about any religion. It is pure evil, from the pit of hell.

“And then: …purge himself of the allegations…by reconstituting the leadership of the security forces. CAN, oh CAN, in a condolence statement? Are you saying under a different leadership of our security forces, the insurgency will vanish after they wave their fingers? Why mix the wheat and chaff together? In the leadership of the security forces as we have it now, is the position of Chief of Defence Staff not held by General Abayomi Olonisakin, who is also a pastor? Is he not a member of CAN? Is the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, not a Christian, and under the banner of CAN? Listening to the organization, you would think not even half a Christian is in the leadership of the security forces. This kind of sentiment breeds hatred and malice in a country, and CAN should not be involved in such, for Jesus would not do it. And we’ve been called to walk in His steps.

“If the leadership of the security forces would be changed, it is a sitting President that has the prerogative. It will not happen when CAN begins to make such demand in what should be a sober condolence press statement. Don’t mix bias and sympathy. They don’t mesh.

“And then, this completely reckless portion of the statement: “In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the Federal Government is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria, bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region.”

“Holy Moses! Did CAN say this? Shameful and ridiculous. These are the things that sow malice and animosity in the country, and a Christian body is not expected to be involved in such. You can’t sow discord and expect concord.

“In that statement, the Christian body urged the Federal Government to ensure the release of the prisoner of faith, Leah Sharibu, and hundreds of victims who are in Boko Haram and ISWAP captivity. It equally called for three days fasting and prayers by Christians in the country. Good. The role of the church is not just in making snide remarks and statements, it is in what the Good Book calls “the demonstration of the Spirit and power.” When Herod locked Peter up and was going to behead him, the early church prayed fervently, and Peter was rescued miraculously the night before. Rather than cast the government as omnipotent, it is God that has all powers. And some things are never resolved spiritually except through prayer and fasting. It is not me that said so. Jesus did. So, let the Church be fully involved in supplication for divine intervention in the country, rather than playing subtle politics and unwittingly generating hate in the land.

“CAN says kidnappings and killings are shameful to a government that boasts that it has conquered insurgency. Boasts. So that is all that matters to CAN as if it was an opposition political party? Boasts. No. This would not augur for unity and cohesion in a country. We are not asking the Christian body to be in bed with government, that would not help anybody, but the organization has been sounding too long like a political party. We daily learn to walk with Jesus. His spirit is not an unduly critical one. And He left us an example “that ye should follow in his steps.”

“Rev Andimi was not killed solely because he was a Christian. Those evil people kill anyone they lay their filthy hands on.

“May Andimi’s soul Rest In Peace. May his loved ones be comforted. And may evildoers get their recompense, and fast too. Amen.”

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BIG STORY

Facebook Shuts Down Nnamdi Kanu’s Page, IPOB Kicks

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Thursday, said the Facebook page of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been shut down.

The group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement, alleged that the action was taken by Facebook Nigeria who, it said viewed the page as a platform to exposing the ills in government.

It warned that Biafra had suffered greatly as a result of the denial of media space in the late 60s, saying it could not afford to allow the same to continue in the 21st century.

The statement reads in part: “We can confirm that Facebook Nigeria has shut down the page of our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

“This is not unconnected with the fact that our leader’s page has become a rich resource for those determined to expose the evil regime in Nigeria and enthrone a better life for the masses.

“We mince no words when we say that Facebook Nigeria is more corrupt than the corrupt government they are seeking to protect.

“Biafra suffered immeasurably as a result of the denial of media space in the late 60s a situation we are not prepared to allow in this 21st century.”

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