The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has described social media as a potent tool which put leaders on their toes and help to checkmate excesses in government.
Saraki stated this in his goodwill message at the maiden public lecture titled: “Building Parameters for Trust to Achieve Political and National Growth,” organised by the Penpushing – a social media platform – held at the Marquee Events Centre, Olusegun Obasanjo Library, Abeokuta on Saturday.
Saraki congratulated the founder, anniversary committee and the platform members for creating a major avenue for the exchange of information, analysis and debate on national and international issues.
The Senate President said he believed that more of such platforms were needed because “it is always better to discuss than to fight.”
“From exchange of information, people get enlightened and platforms like yours keep those of us in top government positions on our toes,” he stated. “We always remember what people on discussion and news groups say about our actions, utterances and attitude. And that serves as a constant check on us. You are definitely contributing a lot to deepening our democracy and improving governance.”
The guest lecturer, Prof Oye Ibidapo-Obe, said social media can turn around the world for better, contrary to beliefs that, it is a menace to developmental growth.
Ibidapo-Obe, who was a two time Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, declared that the social media has come to stay and there was nothing that could be done until something else replaces it.
He also called for a ‘purgatory’ where all information would be tested, purged and sieved for authenticity, accuracy and truth, before being circulated, stressing that the social media should be free of ‘cut and paste’ messages whose veracity and authenticity had not been confirmed.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof Idowu Sobowale, said the social media has become a major source of information but also lamented that some people have taken to the platform to settle scores.
Sobowale, a journalism icon noted that the advantages of the social media far outweighs its disadvantages, stating that the platform had helped to unearth societal ills, fight corruption and injustice.
In his own remark, the Special Host of the occassion, Governor Ibikunle Amosun called for the establishment of an agency that will vet the information meant for the social media before they are released for public consumption.
He admitted that the social media had its advantages, but, however, noted that the platform had also been subjected to abuse and misuse by unscrupulous people to settle scores, damage reputations of individuals and organisations.
The Governor who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Tolu Odebiyi, likened the social media to a ‘weapon of mass destruction,’ adding if left unchecked, it could wreck far reaching damage on the society, community, organisations and a nation.
Amosun urged the users of social media, particularly the youth, to use it to enhance self development, foster harmony, and unity, as opposed to using it for negative purposes.
Earlier, founder of the platform, Dimeji Kayode-Adedeji, gave insight into how the publication came into being, explaining that it was an instinct that he should look inward on how to address the threat journalism is facing with the invention of social media.
Kayode-Adedeji, Ogun State Correspondent of Premium Times, said the platform which parades 256 membership including various professionals across the globe, has obtained its certificate of registration from Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), on June 1.
The platform idea was robustly nurtured through the journalistic ideology of the need for credible sources of news for our participants,” the former zonal secretary of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ said.
“Please, permit me to inform you that this platform, which parades high caliber of personalities across the globe and has no fewer than 256 members as at today, was also designed and created to add value to journalism, particularly our dear country, Nigeria,” he stated.
Meanwhile, some notable dignitaries at the ceremony include; wife of former President, Mrs. Bola Obasanjo, Kabiyesi Olufemi Ogunleye, Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief (Mrs) Alaba Lawson, Rev. Lawrence Achudume, Oloye Lekan Alabi, Dr Niran Malaolu, Lanre Ogundipe, Prof. Tope Popoola and Barrister Benjamin.