VETERAN unionist and chieftain of the APC, Mr Peter Esele, told lawmakers on Tuesday not to base law-making on their emotional considerations.
Esele made the appeal while reacting to a bill currently before the House of Representatives Committee on Information, seeking to amend the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act.
Citing Section 2(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the unionist argued that it is not justifiable for lawmakers to abrogate that section of the constitution in a bid to make laws to curtail the social media.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, had a few ago, asked the House of Representatives to include internet broadcasting under the control of the NBC.
He made the request in his submission at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act. The hearing was organised by the House Committee on Information, Ethics and Values.
Mohammed had requested that all online and internet broadcasting entities should be included in Section Two (c) of the bill.
The bill, if passed as recommended by the minister would entail that media entities would have to get approval from the NBC before operating.
Esele said, however, that lawmakers should appraise the consequences of bills before passing such bills into law in the long-term interest of the nation.
According to him, one of the reasons for making laws is to avoid abuse of such laws over time.
“If the lawmakers want to abrogate a section of the constitution, I wonder where they are drawing their powers from.
“Now, if you want to abrogate a section because you want to manage or control the social media space, I think it is not fair and I think they are being emotional with law-making.
“Law-making should not be based on emotion. It must be forward looking. It must free up the space that is why we are in democracy.”
Esele noted that government should dialogue with social media companies to find ways for the outfits to handle the issues raised by government.
“We can make a law, rather than abrogating a section of the constitution. Such laws should make us to be responsive and responsible, rather than tinkering with a section of the constitution.
“If you do that for social media today, what is the guarantee that somebody else will not come and abrogate the section that gives us the freedom of worship or the right to free movement in our country.
“So we should be careful how we allow our emotions to dictate our law-making.
“For those in power today, don’t forget the fact that you are in power today and enjoying all the benefits of being in power. Tomorrow you may be out of office.”
Esele, a former President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria stressed that every citizen of the country should think of the long-term future of the country, having the future of the younger generation in mind.
He advised the Federal Government to take a cue on how the social media is managed in other parts of the world to guarantee press freedom.
“Those areas in contention can be addressed. But it should not be to tamper with our rights to freedom of expression.
“We can have freedom of expression and with freedom of expression ensure that we are all responsible.
“Freedom comes with responsibility, so what we must do is to ensure that both the government and the governed understand the responsibility attached to freedom.
“Let those in power now strike a balance that will guarantee our freedom. It is in finding that balance that they will not endanger our rights to freedom of speech and association,” said Esele. (NAN)
– June 22, 2021 @ 14:426 9 GMT|