President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will sign the social media bill that has continued to enrage Nigerians since it passed Second Reading in the Senate last Thursday, media reports say Monday.
The president, however, said he’s committed to free speech and will uphold the Constitution, but added that if the National Assembly passed the law in tandem with the dictates of the constitution, he will consider it.
According to the Vanguard, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this while reacting to the public hostility towards the social media bill being debated by the Senate.
He said President Buhari had 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 averse 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 will not 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”.
Mr. 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 “because the Senate is a democratic Senate.
The president won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria,” Shehu said.