Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, said the social media if not regulated would hamper national security.
He said the Federal Government would not stop free speech through the social media bill.
The minister, who spoke in Owerri, the Imo State capital at a roundtable on cultural orientation, organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation, said social media if not regulated would hamper national security.
He said countries were putting laws in place to regulate social media.
Represented by Memunat Idu-Lah, the minister said hate speeches and fake news on social media were capable of jeopardising the country’s unity.
Muhammed said “The last key issue slated for discussion from the theme of this conference is the social media. Permit me to use this opportunity to reiterate the position of the government that social media needs to be regulated.
“The resolve of the government to regulate the platform is not designed to hamper freedom of expression or gag public discourse as being alleged; rather, it is to prevent its abuse and the negative consequences.
“The phenomenon of hate speech, fake news and other forms of criminality which features regularly on the social media have the potential to harm the nation’s security, national unity and our overall national interest.”
He said that the FG was committed to promoting national unity through culture.
“The importance of culture as the bedrock of development; the role of the Nigerian youth as key drivers of development and cultural ambassadors as well as the value of the social media in contemporary times have continued to attract the attention of government and development experts.
“It is gratifying to state that the administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, acknowledges the importance of culture as one of the pillars of sustainable development and has identified culture as one of the key sectors for government’s economic diversification agenda.
“In the same vein, the present administration appreciates the place of youths in economic development and as future leaders and has put concrete policies in place for their training and empowerment to fight and reduce unemployment and enhance their relevance in the nation’s economic agenda.”
The Chairman Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Rochas Okorocha, said that there was a need to differentiate between fake news and hate speech.
Okorocha, who was represented by his legislative aide, Ikenna Emeh, said the revival of culture was key to national development and unity.