The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships (ARISP), of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN has emphasized the importance of keeping all channels of engagement and information with the citizenry open in order for the government to effectively tackle competitive misinformation and the spread of fake news.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is also co-chairman of the Legal Education Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated this while delivering the opening remarks at the Green Institute’s World Environment Day conference.
In his remarks, Olawuyi noted “One of the most potent threats to peace and sustainable development in a country is the lack of easily accessible information on government’s activities and programs. In a quest to actively engage with citizens, government leaders across the world, including Nigeria, have successfully deployed the use of online social networks (OSNs) such as Twitter to provide authentic and readily available information that counter fake news.
Countries like Canada and the United States even have social media ‘war rooms’ backed with significant budgets, where social media experts actively counter the diffusion of competitive misinformation and fake news about government programs. So, banning Twitter is like inflicting self-harm at a time of great global uncertainty.”
While discussing the economic and national security implications of the Twitter ban, Olawuyi noted that “when government agencies with first-hand information are no longer available on social media, expect a bumper harvest and spread of spurious and unverified information by unscrupulous elements at home and abroad. Such nefarious information can spread very quickly in seconds resulting in cascading national security and economic impacts before you can respond offline.”
While discussing the need for a more strategic response to the legitimate concerns raised by the Federal Government, Olawuyi called for the development of a national policy on social media and new technologies, built on transparency, accountability, participatory development, and other human rights safeguards, in order to achieve win-win outcomes in the use of social media in Nigeria.
He concluded that the government should work with reputable research agencies and institutes in Nigeria to spearhead the development of clear, coherent, and sustainable national policies on new technologies and social media in Nigeria.