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We’ll regulate, not shut down, social media – FG

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Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government has no intention of shutting down social media in the country.

Mohammed, however, said the government planned to regulate the operation of those using the social media platforms to address the menace of fake news in the country.

The minister stated this on Thursday during a press conference on the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.

He said the spread of fake news through social media was responsible for the recent outbreak of violence across the country.

Many Nigerians have opposed the planned regulation of social media.

Already, a bill to effect the regulation has passed second reading at the Senate.

Mohammed said the government would forge ahead with the regulation of social media.

He said, “Keen watchers of the developments cannot fail to notice the role played by the social media in the EndSARS protest. As a veritable tool for mass mobilization, the organisers of the protest of course leveraged heavily social media for that purpose.

“But on the other hand, the same social media was used to spread fake news and disinformation that catalyzed the violence that was witnessed across the country.”

The minister also said, “This development has reinforced the campaign against fake news and disinformation, which we launched in 2018. As a matter of fact, as far back as 2017, when we dedicated that year’s National Council on Information to the issue of fake news and disinformation, we had been expressing concerns on the dangers posed by irresponsible use of the new media platform. The concerns culminated in the launch of the national campaign which I referred to earlier.

“The social media was used to guide arsonists and looters to certain properties, both public and private.

“As we have said many times, no responsible government will stand by and allow such abuse of social media to continue. The fake news/disinformation purveyors have latched on to our concerns to allege that the Federal Government is planning to shut down social media.

“No, we have no plans to shut down the social media. What we have always advocated, and what we will do, is to regulate the social media. Nigeria is not alone in this regard. The issue of social media regulation is an ongoing debate not just in Nigeria but around the world, including in the United States, which is the flag flyer of constitutional democracy. Even the owners of the various social media platforms, including Facebook, are increasingly joining the call for content regulation.”

Mohammed argued that if social media was left uncensored, there might not be a country left to defend.

He said, “What they have failed to understand is that the only reason we are even able to have this debate is because we have a country. If we allow the abuse of social media to precipitate uncontrolled internecine violence, the kind of which was narrowly averted during the EndSARS crisis, no one will remember or be able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, for whatever purpose.

“It is incumbent upon us all, therefore, to strike a balance between free speech – which this Administration is committed to upholding – and fake news/disinformation, which it is determined to fight.”

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Oyetola left N76bn salary, pension debts

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Mrs Bimpe Ogunlumade, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance in Osun

Mrs Bimpe Ogunlumade, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance in Osun, says the state government has discovered a salary and pension-related debts, amounting to over N76 billion, left by the immediate past Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola’s administration.

A statement by Malam Olawale Rasheed, the Spokesperson of Gov. Ademola Adeleke of Osun, said on Thursday in Osogbo that Ogunlumade made the revelations while briefing officials of the new administration on the state’s financial status.

According to Rasheed, the Osun Government has uncovered a monumental debt in salaries, pensions and insurance commitments incurred by the administration of Mr Gboyega Oyetola, amounting to N76 billion.

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“This revelation was made by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs Bimpe Ogunlumade, while briefing officials of the new administration on the financial status of the state on Thursday.

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Some public servants earn more salary than the president – RMAFC boss

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Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC)

Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), says some political appointees earn more salary than President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shehu disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television on Thursday.

The RMAFC boss, who spoke on the commission’s plan to review judicial and political holders’ salaries, said some officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) collect salaries higher than the president.

He said the country needs to review allocations as some agencies remit less revenue. 

“The severance package of the president is just N10.5 million. This is after the president leaves office. You can imagine after spending four or eight years, that would be the only take-home. The salary of Mr President is not up to N1.3 million a month,” he said.

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“There are people in the private sector and others in other public sectors that earn twice, three times or four times. No public servant should earn a salary bigger than Mr President. But we do have public servants that earn salaries bigger than Mr President, such as in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), etc.

“My argument has always been that no public servant should earn allowances, severances, or salaries larger than the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, and I stand by it.”

Speaking further on how salaries would be reviewed, especially on current realities, Shehu said salary review would go through processes.

He, however, added that salaries may be reviewed upward after going through due processes.

“When you do a review, the takeoff point is not immediate. And this is a process that has to go to the president and then to the national assembly, and then it becomes a law,” he added.

“I can not tell you whether we can afford it or not, but what I can tell you is there are unremitted revenues out there, probably estimated from N6 trillion to N7 trillion that should be remitted to the federation account.

The Cable

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Buckingham Palace aide resigns over racist comments

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A Buckingham Palace aide has resigned and tendered an apology over racist comments reportedly made to a black British guest at a reception hosted by the Queen Consort.

Ngozi Fulani, the founder of a charity supporting victims of domestic abuse, alleged that she was repeatedly asked by a royal aide at a Palace function where she was “really from” in Africa.

The palace said it was taking the incident “extremely seriously”.

An eyewitness to the conversation, Mandu Reid, confirmed the account and told the BBC the questions put to Ms Fulani were “offensive, racist and unwelcoming”.

Reid said she had a “sense of incredulity” about the exchange with a member of the Royal Household, in which Ms Fulani was “interrogated” about where she was from – even though she had explained she was born and lived in the UK.

Ms Fulani is the founder of the London-based charity Sistah Space, which supports black women who have faced domestic and sexual abuse.

Along with 300 guests, she had been invited to a high-profile reception at the Palace on Tuesday, where the Queen Consort, Camilla, had warned of a “global pandemic of violence against women”.

But after the event, Ms Fulani described her conversation on Twitter, where she was challenged by a royal aide to explain where she was from.

She recounted how she said: “We’re based in Hackney,” and the aide replied: “No, what part of Africa are you from?”

She said, “I don’t know, they didn’t leave any records”, and the Palace member responded, “Well you must know where you’re from, I spent time in France. Where are you from? Here, UK.”

“No, but what nationality are you?”

“I am born here and am British.”

“No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”

She said that members of the Royal Household were circulating at the reception and making “chit chat” – but she said it became a “really unpleasant interaction”, when despite Ms Fulani’s replies there was an insistent questioning about her background.

Ms Reid said they were “stunned into silence” afterwards and says that Ms Fulani should receive an apology and those working for the palace should receive training.

Both Ms Reid and Sistah Space have decided not to name the royal aide believed to be involved.

Palace reacts

In response, Buckingham Palace said, “We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.

“In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made.

“We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.

“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.

“All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”

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