No plan to censor online publications – Information minister

Taiwo Ojedele and Solomon Chung

The Nigerian government will not censor online publications in the country.
The Minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed gave this assurance in Lagos on Friday while meeting with online news publishers across the country.
The Minister pledged the Buhari government’s commitment to freedom of the media especially what is now known as the new or social media.
“Let me assure you all that the Federal Government has no intention whatsoever to regulate online publications.
We believe that you, the publishers, are responsible enough to self-regulate in order to ensure your continued survival. If the online publications suffer credibility problems, they stand the risk of losing the confidence of their audience and the advertisers who provide the lifeblood for the publication’s survival.
On the other hand, if they maintain their credibility, their survival is guaranteed. In other words, credibility is at the very core of your survival”.
Mohammed solicited the cooperation of the online publishers in the government’s anti corruption crusade.
“Some have said the government is dwelling too much on the war against corruption to the detriment of other areas of governance.
Our response to that is that indeed, there is nothing like dwelling too much on this war, which is a war of survival for our nation. The situation is grim, very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned.
That is why the Federal Government is embarking on this sensitization Campaign. Our approach is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of the cost of corruption.
When the money meant to construct roads are embezzled or misappropriated, the end results are that the roads are not built and the people suffer and even die in avoidable road accidents.”
He added that “when the money meant for education is looted, we are unable to provide quality education for our children. When the money meant to fight terrorism is looted or diverted for prayers, publicity, purchase of land for maritime university or simply to rally support for a political party, soldiers die needlessly, hordes of widows emerge and people are pushed from their communities to IDP camps. These, in stark reality, are the costs of corruption.
We must give a face to corruption and stop talking about it in the abstract. Nigerians must know that when they celebrate corrupt people, they are celebrating their own deprivations, the denial of the dividends of democracy and the endemic poverty in our society”.
The Minister further reiterated the government’s willingness to support the growth of online publications as a veritable platform to bridge the gap between the government and the governed by placing a sizable chunk of government advertisements on online news media outfits.
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