The Senator representing Niger East in the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Musa, has bagged the Politics Today online newspaper’s “Senator of The Year” award.
The lawmaker had in 2019 proposed a bill to check the excesses of posts on social media so that Nigerian youths will not set the country on fire based on what they read and write on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other online platforms, among others, earned him the award.
The lawmaker in an elaborate ceremony in Abuja on Thursday night where he was honoured with the award of “Senator of the Year” by an online newspaper called Politics Today, thanked the platform for the recognition.
He maintained the need to regulate the social media in Nigeria to prevent fake news, falsehood and hate speech capable of setting the country on fire.
The lawmaker said, “I dedicate the award to my constituency. They discovered me and sent me here. If not for them, I won’t be here doing my best and contributing my quota in terms of lawmaking to the good governance and betterment of our dear nation.
“In his speech, the publisher mentioned integrity as one of the reasons I’m being honoured today. I appreciate the fact that some people are sincerely watching us and taking notes of our efforts and the patriotism and sound principles that govern our activities on the floor of the Senate. This is because money can’t give integrity. It is my words and deeds that earned me this award and I’m grateful.
“The murky nature of our politics has made people lose confidence in it. But I’m not losing confidence in the fact that I’m in the right place and our country is in safe hands under this administration.
“Our country has all it takes to be far greater than this. We have the resources, the people and the brains. We in government are doing our best. But our best appears not to be enough sometimes.
“This is a shared responsibility. We need the Press to do better for the country to be greater than this. The Press cannot blame us alone for what is happening now because they are the 4th Estate of the realm. When we suggested the regulation of social media, the mainstream media didn’t support us. But from the events of EndSars up to the ongoing crises across the country, are we not vindicated?
“I still stand on my social media regulation bill as the best thing for Nigeria at the moment if we must manage our unity in diversity, and live in peace with one another.
“If we continue to leave the social media like this, to operate without any check or regulation, the country may go up in flames.
“Look at the EndSars. Social media platforms were used to mobilize people to join the destruction.
“I spend all my time on social media and I know what goes on there some of which are positive. But the negative things can set the country on fire if we don’t regulate it.
“Like what they do in Dubai and other organised societies, we can regulate the social media in such a way that if you post bad, false, toxic or unhealthy contents, you either receive a warning to remove it or you are made to remove it or it is removed by a regulatory authority.
“The social media regulation bill that was rejected, is it not being practised now with the solid agreement the Federal Government got from Twitter after the ban?
“Twitter will now have an office here, pay tax and submit itself to the grand norm here. That is the beginning of the social media regulation that we proposed. We are getting there gradually”, he said.
Earlier, the publisher, Nasir Dambatta, noted that the lawmaker, aside from his integrity and vibrancy as a grassroots politician, has contributed 26 bills to the red chamber, the highest among the Top 10 lawmakers in the 9th Senate, hence, the conferment of the award of “Senator of the Year” on him.
Senator Musa had reintroduced the “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019” also known as the social media regulation bill on November 5, 2019.
According to the proposed bill, for individuals who post false information on the internet, the “penalty for defaulters goes up to N300,000 for individuals and up to N10 million for corporate organisations and imprisonment of up to three years, or both.