Niger: Journalists speak to youths on responsible use of social media

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By Justina Asishana – Minna 

Journalists, under the auspices of Progressive Media Practitioners (PMP), in Niger on Friday, emphasized the need for youths and social media users, to use social media responsibly.

The Journalists made this call at the 1st Niger state Social Media Summit, with a theme: ‘Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.’

The Convener, Mr. Dan Atori, in his address said that only the responsible use of social media would advance democracy and development in the country. 

He added that the negative effects of social media were strong enough to bring down a country.

“There is the need for the responsible use of the social media that will enhance and advance the course of humanity, deepen brotherhood, entrench peace and overcome evil. 

“Like any other development, social media has its own good, bad and ugly sides. However, they may look small but the effects if the bad use of social media is strong enough to bring a country down,” he pointed out.

While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the National Assembly, NASS, to push for a bill that will boost journalists’ welfare in the country, Atori also called the NASS to reconsider and suspend the bills on hate speech and social media offenders. 

“The National Assembly should reconsider and drop these bills and ensure that they propose a bill that will improve the welfare of media practitioners instead of proposing bills that will gag the media that fought tirelessly for the democracy we are enjoying today.”

He explained that Progressive Media Practitioners is a group of young, determined and resourceful media practitioners, who came together from various media organizations, to give back to the society what they have earned from their experiences as journalists.

In his speech, the former Commissioner of Information and Culture, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, said the social media will remain one of the powerful socialization and technological advancements that had happened to Africa and Nigeria in particular.

He added that there was no need for Senators to continue pushing for the bill on social media, as it will not hold water. 

The Chief Press Secretary to Niger State Governor, Mrs Mary Noel Berje, stressed the need to monitor information that streamed online so that it will not further be abused.

In her presentation on the bad and ugly sides of the social media, the Lead Facilitator of the Summit, Justina Asishana, said while the social media had changed a lot of things for good, there were some bad and ugly effects of it, which the youths needed to be wary of. 

She gave cyber-bullying, stalking and misinformation as the ugly effects of social media, while rejection, sleep disorder, speech defects, depression, anxiety and a high rate of suicide as the bad sides of social media. 

“For the government to make a change on the social media will take a long time, but as individuals, we can be change agents ourselves and propagate the responsible use of the social media among our friends and families, in our schools, communities, and homes,” Asishana stated.

Mr Emperor Simon of Channels Television also presented a paper titled,  ‘Social Media: A Curse or a Blessing?’, while Prof. Nicholas Iwokwagh, the Dean of School of ICT in to Federal University of Technology, FUT, Minna presented a paper on ‘Social Media Governance and Development in Nigeria: Interrogating the relationship, examining the impacts and prospects for the future”.

Participants at the summit, included two public secondary schools in Minna, the Press Club in the state College of Education, the Fati Lami Abubakar Institute of Legal and Administrative Studies, youth leaders, civil society organizations, public relations officers and Journalists.