Regulators of media use and communications in Nigeria must be sincere in the discharge of their duties and avoid policies that would deprive the people of their fundamental human rights to information and freedom of expression, a Catholic priest has said.
Padre Mike Nsilak Umoh, the new National Social Communication Director of Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, said rather than attempt to clamp down on social media, the government should channel more efforts towards media education.
“More efforts should be channelled towards media education rather than clamping down on media outfits or media use in the country,” Umoh said in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, during a media event to unveil him.
“This is in line with the philosophy of our office which stands for positive and healthy journalism; a journalism for growth and development of the human person and his society,” he said.
While reacting to the moves by the Federal Government to regulate the social media following the ENDSARS protest, Umoh urged the government to be careful in attempting to regulate the digital space that the citizens enjoyed.
“On social media, we are Nigerians, we need to understand that it is a revolution and it is a phenomenon. It is a revolution that is bigger than any government and it is a phenomenon that will outlive every government. So, those in-charge of regulating need to be very careful, ” Umoh said.
He said that such regulation could only last for a while if done by the government to silence its critics and opposition.
“Rather than begin to want to clamp down or whatever, those who are in-charge of regulatory agencies must be sincere.
“Why are you regulating? Of course, if they are regulating for themselves in order to silence people, it cannot last,” he said.
“You cannot regulate what you are not in control of as it were. It is bigger than you. You cannot stop the internet. No one can stop the internet.
“And I wish they really understand how the social media is when you talk of revolutions in history. You can’t stop revolution, the best thing is to check yourself and regulate for the good of all.
“Finally on social media, what I will advise the Federal Government is rather than trying to clamp down, concentrate more on information; there are more dangers social media is causing to the society that is not attracting regulators.
“The government should educate on how people should engage with social media. I advise the government to slow down, calm down and focus more on the information, ” he advised.
Umoh said while the government might think it had crushed the ENDSARS protest physically, “the spirit of ENDSARS has not been crushed.”’
According to the priest, ENDSARS is a revolution which can only end if the government and all the stakeholders listen to the issues raised by the protest and act to resolve them.
“You can only suppress it for sometime but it will find its voice back. So, ENDSARS has come to stay physically and spiritually. The earlier we realise that the better for us,” he said.