Nigeria, with a population of nearly 160 million, is one of Africa’s giants when it comes to the use of social media. Nearly 4.6 million Nigerians are on Facebook. Twitter is the 6th most popular website in Nigeria. So it comes as no surprise that Nigerians were angered when the President of the Nigerian Senate David Mark suggested that social media in the country should be censored.
On a Senate Press Corps retreat last week, David Mark said that Nigerians use social media to demean their leaders and that there is no avenue for retraction of criticism.
Mark also added that Nigerian reporters should emulate foreign media “who never report negative things about their countries.”
It may be recalled that Mark, a former communications minister, stated a few years ago that Nigeria’s poor were not ready for telephones.
SaharaReporters created a Storify of responses to David Mark’s comments about censoring social media. Most Nigerians rejected the notion that social media should be censored and that social media platforms are a mechanism for ordinary citizens to assess the performance of their leaders.
Interestingly, several posts circulating on Facebook called for an “Occupy David Mark” movement:
“ATTENTION: Occupy David Mark. The senate president must be stopped from his moves to restrict the use of social media in Nigeria, as it has been done in militarised countries of the world. He has been quoted as saying the social media is being used to insult leaders. We are not in North Korea, this is a democracy. “Occupy his telephone line and help save our only freedom of expression. Call, text and even flash 080350088**. Please rebroadcast.”
No word on if the mobile telephone number broadcast is the Senate President’s actual number. But the message is clear: David Mark, do not try to come between Nigerians and their social media.