By ANDREW OJIEZEL
President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured Nigerians of the commitment of his administration to the protection of free speech in keeping with democratic tradition.
Buhari restated this in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.
Shehu, who was reacting to the public hostility towards the social media bill now being debated by the Senate, said President Buhari has sworn to defend the constitution of Nigeria and would not lend his hand to anything that is inconsistent with the constitution.
“But he is not opposed to lawful regulation, so long as that is done within the ambit of the constitution which he swore to uphold.”
The President said free speech is central to democratic societies anywhere in the world. The President explained that without free speech, elected representatives won’t be able to gauge public feelings and moods about governance issues.
“As a key component of democratic principles,” the President acknowledged that people in democratic societies “are so emotionally attached to free speech that they would defend it with all their might.”
Shehu explained that President Buhari is fully aware of the public reservations about the proposed legislation but assured that there is no cause for alarm.
“The Senate is a democratic senate. The President won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.”