…Insists plan to regulate social media not political
A media aide in the Presidency says that President Muhammadu having advisers around him is not unique to his administration, arguing that every President has a “cabal” of such advisers.
Speaking at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Press Corps at the weekend, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, said a lot of the people labelled as being part of a “cabal” in the Presidency’s “are successful people who are making extreme sacrifices to even be coming to serve government.
“Every President must have people who advise him. It is not a sin, it is not an offence to have people that you take into confidence,” Shehu said.
“What is the meaning of cabal? I just googled Thesaurus and among many other definitions, what they are saying is that cabal means “conspire, intrigues, mystique, occult, secret”. There is no government in this country that we have had that some people were not accused of being a cabal in that government, and it is because every administration, every President must have a secretariat.
“Elsewhere, they call it ‘Kitchen Cabinet’, but in our own country we are being derogatory and we term them the cabal so that it will tarnish their own good standing.
“In fact, for some of our elites, Buhari is a bad man because you cannot go to him and say give me oil well and he will sign paper and give you.
“So, we understand the game that is playing out and there is always a price, in any case, to pay for that kind of exposure. Even the President himself, the kind of things that are being said of him, if he did not offer himself to serve, some of those things, people would not even have the chance to say them against him. So, we will live with it, we will accept it because it goes with the territory,” he noted.
On the controversy about the plan to regulate social media, the President’s spokesman ruled out a political undertone, explained that “Social media has become a problem for many families because rights of women and children are being abused.
“There is a need to protect vulnerable members of the society. There is a need to protect minorities, whether tribal or religious, in our own country.
“So, it makes sense that you as media stakeholders come around the Minister of Information and Culture and formulate the kind of regulation you want so that it is not that there is top-bottom approach, so that government will not be accused of imposing a regulatory mechanism on the media.
“The Minister is saying come, sit down with me and let us talk about it. And I was told that the day he called on NUJ, they walked out on him. If that the report is true, I think it is very unfortunate. I think we need to come around him and offer media driven solutions so that at the end of it this, the country will have a vibrant and effective social media communication system.
“…It is the one that does not drive children to addiction and that also protects consumers of media content from harmful invasion either of our privacy of addiction for children of commercialism that are profit driven and are taking advantage of our own exposure to a mass communication system.
“I think I will be like to appeal that please give serious consideration to some of these elements and see how the media in the country can work together with government to find communication solutions to a purely communication problem.
“It is not political, the government has no reason to undermine or weaken the mass media… In a country where the mass media are being suppressed, where there is no freedom of expression and information, you find out that the media space tends to decline, it becomes smaller, media houses close down; but the Irony of what is happening in the country is that, while some civil society groups are crying here that freedom of expression is being threatened, we know why they were shouting because they are looking for donors abroad who will send in US dollars for the protection of Hate Speech. That basically it is a selfish thing,” he noted.