Home Interview INTERVIEW: Let’s Regulate Social Media Instead Of Enacting Draconian Laws — Sadipe

INTERVIEW: Let’s Regulate Social Media Instead Of Enacting Draconian Laws — Sadipe

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Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe is the chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora. The lawmaker, who represents Oluyole Federal Constituency, Oyo State, under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in this interview with The Nation’sVICTOR OLUWASEGUN, speaks of her person, past experiences, philosophy, committee and other issues. Excerpts:

 

AS the chairperson of the House Committee on Diaspora, what would you say has been your greatest challenge?



Diaspora is key to the development of the nation, but we need to align the priorities of the three arms of government. For example, prior to the motion raised by me on the floor of the House on the need to investigate Diaspora remittances, the issue of Diaspora remittances was not given the priority it deserved.

My other example of a related challenge is human trafficking with human trafficking, a large number of girls are often trafficked abroad and there is a need for sincere and progressive collaboration between the relevant ministries and agencies – NAPTIP, NIDCOM, Nigerian Immigration Service and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, it is NAPTIP’s sole responsibility to deal with such cases as they have to work closely with immigration to prevent the trafficking at the source. Once these cases are reported, it is the duty of NIDCOM, NAPTIP and Foreign Affairs to bring our fellow citizens back home.

The Nigerian police must also investigate, arrest the unscrupulous agents and the judiciary must prosecute on a timely basis.

My other key concern is the mode of preparing our country’s budget, who determines the infrastructure priority projects that go into the budget each year? What is the involvement of the local government and each constituency’s representative prior to the envelopes going out? In my opinion as an accountant, constituencies and states need to be carried along in determining the budgetary items for their localities. For example, in a private company, each department sends its requirements to the budgeting unit, which collates and builds a budget around each department’s requirements.

You are versed in policy formulation, business analysis, strategy development and implementation. Do you think this government is doing well in terms of Ease of Doing Business?

The policies are awesome; the programme is being driven very well by the Vice President’s office, but that is not enough. For the programme to truly succeed, all arms of government must cooperate. The legislators, once they pass value adding laws, need the executive to implement the laws and policies, while the judiciary needs to adjudicate fairly and timely.  The onus falls on our civil service; their cooperation is key as each policy or law is a piece of paper; the civil service is utmost for the proper implementation of these laws and policies.

You are also an expert in tax/financial management, is the Finance Bill the right thing at this time when most Nigerians are hungry?

The Finance Bill, 2019 was presented together with the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and has been passed into law. The Bill, among other things, seeks to promote fiscal equity, align local laws with global best practices, introduce tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and the capital market. It also supports small- scale businesses in line with the ongoing Ease of Doing Business reforms and it has its pros and cons, good and bad. Small businesses with turnover less than N25 million to be fully exempted from Companies Income Tax (CIT) & entities with less than N25 million in turnover are exempted from VAT registration. Efficiency must also be built into the system such that VAT paid is completely remitted and in a timely basis to government coffers. We need focus on blocking loopholes that encourage diversion by creating barriers to diversion.

Hate Speech Bill, what do you think of it? Should it be passed in the House, especially as your constituency is against it?

What does the term hate speech mean to you? Hate speech is an abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a person or particular group. Why do you think we have so much hate speeches on social media platform? This is because Nigerians are disgruntled, Nigerians are unhappy. The platform creates an opportunity for Nigerians to voice out their opinions to be heard.

While I condemn any form of abuse against the human race, I cannot say that the social media has not made positive impact; it has given an opportunity for positive news about the country to travel across the world. It is very informative and has aided prompt resolution on national issues raised. Persons are now more than ever being held accountable for crimes committed against humanity and the nation. As legislators, we understand that there are more pressing issues pertaining to the nation that need to be addressed, issues like unemployment, security, power, socio-economic development, infrastructural development Thus, priority in legislation should be to address these key issues and to create an enabling socio-economic environment for citizens of the country. This would resolve the prevalence of hate speeches, as citizens will be less likely to talk ill about the country when this occurs. Not that I am in support of hate speeches, some are malicious and untrue that have resulted in many lives, reputations and marriages etc. being ruined.

Hate speech itself is a tort under common law when it results in injury to whom it is targeted.  Injury can be either emotional distress, physical or bodily harm or can even lead to death.  All any such law does is to only codify it and put what already exists under common law into statutory form.

That being said, may I add that if need be, let us think of ways to regulate the social media rather than enacting draconian laws with strict penalties such as death is indicative of a dictatorial regime. Although if death should occur as a result of hate speeches, murder charges then may apply.

How useful are Diaspora remittances as a developmental tool for the country?

Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development is aimed at creating an avenue for prospective, meaningful and sustainable diaspora investments, which if well realised will boost growth and development of our great country.

What dictates your dressing?

I am not a fashionista; I focus more on what suits my body type. I hardly follow trends not because I can’t afford it but because I find contributing to humanity more exciting. On a lighter note, I remember many friends calling me an ‘Ijebu’ as far back as my 30s as I wouldn’t spend money on frivolous things.

Knowing what my income was at such a young age, they couldn’t understand why I wasn’t heavily into designer labels all the time nor could they understand why I wasn’t having shopping sprees on my trips abroad.

How do you unwind? What constitutes leisure to you?

I love the quietness of nature; unwinding, for me, means spending quality time with my family and friends;  a day at the beach;

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