Anti-Social Media Bill Is ‘Dead On Arrival’ – Saraki

Senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki tolled the death knell on the controversial aspects of the ‘Anti-frivolous Petition Bill,’ when he declared yesterday that section 4 of the bill, now popularly known as ‘Anti-Social Media Bill’ would not see the light of day at the Senate because it was already dead on arrival.

Nigerians had angrily criticised the bill being sponsored by the deputy senate leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah representing Kebbi South senatorial district titled “Draft Bill to Prohibit Frivolous Petition and Other Matters Connected Therewith” which seeks to forbid social media operators from slandering members of the public, including the lawmakers themselves.

But delivering the keynote address at the StateCraft Masterclass series at Social Media Week in Lagos yesterday, the senate president, while announcing that the controversial bill would not see the light of day stated that “without the involvement of social media, there is no way that we would have moved.”

Saraki commended the online community, even as he described them as the real ‘chairmen of INEC,’ saying their crowd sourced election results from polling stations during the general elections, ensured that the manipulation of vote counts was kept to the barest minimum.

“Though we had the numbers, it is really thanks to social media that votes counted because you shared the results as they happened”, he stated.

He emphasised the growing influence of social media users in Nigeria’s political environment, and encouraged the audience to continue contributing to the development of Nigeria through their dialogue and debate on social media.

The senate president assured the audience at #SMWLagos that in the next few weeks, the calls for an Open National Assembly (#OpenNASS) would be actualised, and Nigerians would get to see the line-item allocations of the National Assembly.

Saraki called for continued cooperation and conversation between the government and the public via social media, and mentioned that following the recent National Assembly Interactive Session with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) called #NASSEngages, starting in 2017, CSOs would be a part of the budget hearing process.

Being the first public official in office to personally attend social media week which is in its 4th year, he assured participants that his presence at the event shows how serious National Assembly takes social media.

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