By: Olamide Francis
Nigerians have entered ‘one chance’. The bill to curb fake news propagated on social media has passed its first hearing at the iron stamp senate. Oh, don’t let the big grammar — Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 — deceive you. Fake news is fake news.
Only people like us who don’t mean well for Nigeria and are not analytical enough will think fake news isn’t top of Nigeria’s problem. Let me describe it using the words of Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, the sponsor of the bill: “In a developing nation facing so many challenges, there is no better time regulate the Internet.” Ladies and Gents, because of the many challenges we’re facing, now is the time to fight the spread of fake news.
Fake news on social media is an idiot. It is responsible for the hunger in the land, the slow growth rate of our economy, the increase in impoverished people, the poor power sector, the constant diminishing of our educational standards, and the mammoth crowd of Nigerians seeking to run out of the country. We’ve even closed our borders to avoid entrance of foreign fake news.
In fact, if we check properly, fake news is the reason why it has taken so long to complete Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Therefore, according to the right-thinking senator, it has to come first on the list of menaces to do away with. And, it must be implemented as fast as the minimum wage we’ve been dragging since last year.
Our distinguished Senator, inside his properly air-conditioned office, even gave examples of nations where the fake news bill has been fully grafted into their law. You know it’s an abomination to compare Nigeria and saner climes when we intend describing unemployment rate, quality of education, wages and salaries, technology, power, economy, and transportation. But, when it’s time to mugulise or swindle the populace, they are quick to get a reference from abroad.
If we say the fake news on social media they’re seeking to curb with the bill are articles that point out the flaws in the current administration, publications that don’t dance to the tune of their ruling party and writings that expose the decadence in the system, their bootlickers will call us names.
Even without this bill, we see how gentle and warming journalists and generic news writers are being treated. The way they go in and out of courtrooms to greet their lawyer-friends is honourable. Some of them even mysteriously disappear for holidays proudly sponsored by the government. No doubt this bill is from a pure conscience with good intent. This doesn’t look like an attempt to rob Nigerians of their freedom of speech and expression.
In the language of well-meaning Nigerians: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It seems though that this Rome is taking forever to be built. Maybe the building materials are imported from Jupiter.