President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the commitment of his administration to the protection of free speech in keeping with democratic tradition. This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
Shehu was reacting to the public hostility towards the social media bill now being debated by the Senate. According to him, President Buhari has sworn to defend the constitution of Nigeria and will not lend his hand to anything that is inconsistent with the constitution.
``But he (Buhari) 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 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,’’ he said.
Shehu explained that President Buhari was fully aware of public reservations about the proposed legislation but assured that ``there is no cause for alarm because the Senate is a democratic senate.’’
He assured that the President would not assent to any legislation that might be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.