By Chuks Okocha
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday rejected the move by the federal government to regulate and social media, describing it as unconstitutional, anti-people and a suppressive design to suffocate Nigerians.
The main opposition party said the renewed frenzy to censor social media is ostensibly targeted at muzzling outspoken Nigerians, particularly the youths, media and civil society organisations, from demanding accountability and competence, as well as exposing alleged widespread corruption, unbridled treasury looting, barefaced injustice, human right abuses, constitutional violations and divisive actions of the APC-led administration.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Our party rejects the claims that the regulation bill is targeted at checking fake news. This is because our nation already has enough implementable laws to counter the dissemination of fake news and punish offenders.
“It is clear that the APC administration is rather xenophobic of criticisms from citizens against its manifest atrocities that it seeks to surreptitiously re-enact the obnoxious military Decree 4 to suppress Nigerians.”
Instead of what it described as the desperation to gag the citizens and curtail their constitutionally-guaranteed rights, the PDP urged the APC-led administration to reassure Nigerians by ending its manifest corruption, treasury looting, abuse of human rights, nepotism and unaccountability for which the citizens demand answers.
The PDP also urged the federal government to become more accountable, particularly, by not shielding suspected corrupt officials, as being witnessed in the alleged desperation to protect federal officials accused of diverting funds voted for COVID-19 palliatives.
The main opposition party said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration should address various corruption allegations, including the stealing of trillions of naira in sleazy oil subsidy regime and claimed under-recovery for unnamed West African countries; the alleged fraud in the N500 billion Social Investment Programme as revealed by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari; the alleged frittering away of over N9.6 trillion ($25 billion) as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo, among others.
It said this is in addition to the N90 billion allegedly stolen from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); the alleged looting of N33 billion from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) fund and the over N25 billion allegedly siphoned from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
“The APC administration should come clean on the parameters for the hike in the cost of fuel, the depletion of our foreign reserves as well as the mortgaging of our nation to external interests through foreign loans.
“Instead of seeking to gag Nigerians, the APC administration should be explaining how government vehicles were seen conveying hoodlums to attack protesters in Abuja as well as who deployed the military in Lekki Tollgate, leading to the reported killing of innocent and unarmed protesters,” the party stated.
The main opposition party accused the APC of birthing and promoting fake news and using it as a tool to grab power during the build-up to the 2015 elections.
It, however, added that while it rejected what it described as the attempt to hide under fake news to impose a siege mentality on the country for selfish political reasons, its opposition should not be misconstrued as condoning the dissemination of fake news.
“If anything, the APC should be apologising for making our social media toxic, importing fake news into our polity as well as running an incompetent, oppressive and corrupt administration,” it said.