Social media has been in a frenzy ever since a video of Lawmaker Desmond Elliot at a plenary session in the Lagos State House of Assembly emerged on the internet. In the video recording, the actor who is representing Surulere Constituency I called Nigerian Youths “Children” and asked that the parliament regulate the social media space. He said that this was to be done for the peace and unity of the country.
As expected, the lawmaker received a backlash from Nigerians about his statement. His statement has brought a refocus on the Social Media Bill. Bill that many Nigerians, including celebrities, have been speaking out against the bill.
Those in diaspora haven’t also been left out. One of those who have been at the forefront of the campaign is popular Nigerian-Canadian Celebrity – Sandra Idubor. The beautiful actress, singer and talk-show host hasn’t failed to express her distaste of the bill in the past.
Which was why after the Desmond Elliot saga, Dihamy TV decided to interview her and pick her thoughts about the Anti-social media bill. The interview was conducted over video call. Here is what transpired in the interview:
Interviewer: It is nice speaking to you again ma’am.
Sandra: (Smiles) Yeah…it is good to hear from you too.
Interviewer: (Clears throat). Without further ado, let me go straight to the point. What is your take on the “Protection From Internet Falsehood and Manipulations and Other Related Matters 2019” bill dubbed Social Media Bill?
Sandra: (Shakes head). It just doesn’t make sense. How can we claim to be in a democracy and have such a law hanging over our heads? Tell me, how?
Interviewer: So you are implying that the bill should be scrapped.
Sandra: Most certainly, yes. It shouldn’t be passed into law. The bill is just a ploy by the government to censor the media space. They are trying to make life difficult for Nigerians.
Interviewer: (Cuts in) Difficult?
Sandra: (Nods her head). Yes, difficult. Isn’t that obvious? Okay let’s take a look at the bill itself. The bill prohibits statements on social media deemed “likely to be prejudicial to national security” and “those which may diminish publish confidence” in Nigeria government. It proposes that these offenses be punishable by a fine, a prison sentence of three years, or both. The bill also seeks to allow law enforcement agencies to order internet service providers to disable internet access. Can you now see that the bill is devious?
Interviewer: (Chuckles). I get your point ma’am. But your use of the word – devious. Doesn’t it sound too harsh?
Sandra: No, it isn’t. The bill is just a ploy by the government and corrupt politicians to prevent citizens from speaking out against them. These politicians already own most of the media houses and the news coming from there is mostly biased. Social Media is where the truth gets to be told. It is where Nigerians gets to express their views about certain issues. A place where Nigerians can call out their leaders for any wrong doing right from the comfort of our homes or offices. Now they want to take this little privileges from us too. (Frowns)
Interviewer: Wow! I see you are really passionate about this topic.
Sandra: Why won’t I? I am a patriotic Nigerian despite the fact that I live overseas. This issue concerns me too. The bill is just a means by the government to intimidate the citizens from talking against them. They just want to silence any form of opposition. Which is wrong? We are in a democracy not an autocratic rule, for God sake. There should be freedom of speech. I shouldn’t fear for my safety because I decided to express my view. It is wrong and shouldn’t be so.
Interviewer: Have you watched the Desmond Elliot video?
Sandra: Yes, I have.
Interviewer: Good. So, what is your take on his utterances? Seeing the fact that is a fellow celebrity.
Sandra: (Sighs) To be frank with you, the man was wrong to have made such statements. Especially the part he called Nigerian Youths, “Children.” That was uncalled for. The same social media space he wants to be regulated was what he leveraged on when he was campaigning for office. Nevertheless, he has realized his mistakes and tendered an apology to Nigerians.
Interviewer: Okay…Back to the bill. What is the way forward? Do you think anything can be done to stop its passage?
Sandra: Yes. It can be stopped. And it will be stopped. So far we keep speaking about it and ask the lawmakers representing us to vote against the bill. Which is why I even granted this interview? We won’t get tired of talking about it.
Interviewer: (Smiles) It has been quite an engaging conversation. Do you have any closing remarks for the readers?
Sandra: Sure I do. And it is mostly for the youths. We should strive to get out PVCs ahead of the 2023 elections. It is the only way we can vote out this crop of old and corrupt politicians and vote the leaders we desire. Leaders who will help achieve the New Nigerian Dream. Come 2023, we are going to put an end to bad governance. Thank you.
Interviewer: Well…well…it has been lovely talking with you. Do hope we can do this some other time.
Sandra: (Grins) The pleasure is all mine. I would also love to do this some other time. Thanks for having me.