Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun on Monday disagreed with calls for death sentence for those who abuse the use social media as a tool for information dissemination.
He said the proposed social media bill before the National Assembly should not be seen as targeting or gagging the critical media or curtailing free speech.
Prince Abiodun said the law should be seen as a way to hold journalists to account and make them responsible for their reports.
The governor bemoaned the rise of malicious and deliberate misinformation by some unethical social media users.
He said they put the information superhighway to wrong uses by targeting other Nigerians – high and lowly placed – for character assassination and portraying people in bad light.
Abiodun spoke at the 160th celebration of the birth of journalism in Abeokuta. The theme of the anniversary lecture was: “Re-inventing the practice of journalism in Nigeria with emphasis on the influence of the social media”.
He said the call for death penalty in the bill was uncalled for.
“We have to find a win-win situation. The idea is not to gag the media in any form or manner, but to ensure that the media is held responsible for carrying out its responsibility; and of course, the issue of death penalty is not called for,” the governor said.
Prince Abiodun urged veterans of the profession not to only play their role of informing the people, but to also ensure that they play their roles as elders by monitoring the younger generation of journalists.
He said: “This has prompted a lot of reactions from different quarters, with some even calling for death penalties for people who are found guilty of what has now become popularly referred to as the ‘Hate Speech’”.
The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, who described journalism as a profession for the intellectually-minded people, said the profession has no room for dropouts.
He hailed the media for contributing to the socio-political development of the country, saying Abeokuta, being the cradle of journalism, has produced first-class professionals.
Speaking on the topic: “Reinventing the practice of Journalism in Nigeria with emphasis on the Influence of the Social Media”, former Ogun State Governor Chief Segun Osoba said journalists needed to update themselves on modern trends in the industry and use latest technologies in carrying out their duties.
He enjoined the present journalists to be dedicated, committed, have passion for the job and be fearless like those before them.
Osoba likened the social media to soft sell magazines, which thrived on controversies. He advised journalists to use the social media to change the narratives.