The Senate president, Godswill Akpabio said on Tuesday, September 19, that the 10th National Assembly might not be eager to regulate social media, saying that existing laws adequately address any violations by users of social media platforms.
Akpabio enjoined social media platforms users to use the platforms for positive productive engagements for the development of the country, adding that the country needs to keep pace with the emerging technologies for the benefit of all stakeholders.
He, however, said African countries need a digital future that is inclusive, secure and innovative, stressing that this should be the focus of all.
The Senate president made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the Parliamentarian Symposium of the African Internet Governance Forum (AIGF), held at Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.
The Forum which had the theme “Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security, and Innovation,” was with the support of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
He expressed confidence that the commitment of African Parliamentarians would ensure and deliver progress that represents the people’s aspirations, asserting that their coming together was aimed at initiating internet governance and digital policies and legislations to boost the sector.
Akpabio said: “This theme is a reflection of the deepest yearnings of all Africans for a concerted effort to keep in step with the rest of the world in the ICT race.”
Speaking through the Senate committee chairman on Cybersecurity and ICT, Afolabi Shuiab Salisu, the Senate president said emerging technologies cannot be taken in isolation from one another and that the existing laws should be allowed to take care of them.
He explained that it would be cumbersome to have laws on the usage of social media, another one on Artificial Intelligence (AI), and internet fraud, stressing that the country already has constitutional provisions to take care of breaches in any form or shape.
He said: “I am not sure that there’s going to be any specific bill on social media regulation. However, there are many laws in various areas, social media is just one space.
“So, rather than have a specific legislation on social media. I will rather say social media is just one platform. The same way people have used regular media platforms to commit libel, defamation, or sedition. So they will be taken care of.
“Thank God there was a court judgment somewhere, where a thumbs up has been acknowledged as approval for a business deal between parties. So, I don’t need to sign documents physically now before it become valid.
He said the time has come for African countries to take advantage of its active youthful population for empowerment, innovation and job creation, noting that “almost 70 percent of Nigeria’s population are youths. What does this mean? It does mean the youths can learn new technologies and use them for the benefit of all.”
The Secretary-General (AIGF), Hon. Samuel George, a member of the Ghanaian Parliament, who spoke on internet governance in Africa said, “Governments on the African continent are doing a fantastic job when it comes to the processes of digitalisation. We’re seeing a lot more government services becoming digitalised; social services, government services, health care, and justice, are becoming digital platforms.
“On West African sub-region Nigeria, is a big leader in that so we believe that governments are doing well”.