Nigerian citizens have been called upon to report all hate and dangerous speeches online to the dangerous speech observatory currently being run by the Kano based Centre for Information Technology and Development, (CITAD). In a communiqué at the end of the first ever Internet Governance Forum to be held in the North East region, the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum linked this to what it calls pervasive misuse of the Internet, especially social media due to lack of appropriate orientation of young people about how to use the internet for socially good causes. Apart from hate and dangerous speeches, the communiqué maintained that many practices on the Internet such as cyber staking, online sexual harassment, etc discourage many women in particular from going online while exposing children to unhealthy contents and practices on the Internet. It said it was incumbent on all stakeholders to commit to contributing to making the Internet a safe, secure, free, affordable and accessible platform for all people.
“Content designers and providers as well as programmers and apps developers should ensure that content online is accessible in a formats that are suitable for people with hearing and vision impairments”, it was pointed out in the communiqué signed by Mallam Y Z Yau, Mary Uduma and Mohammed Saleh Binga, Executive Director of CITAD, Chairperson of the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum and Chairman, Committee on Education of the Borno State House of Assembly, respectively.
The forum called on the Federal Government to initiate programmes, projects and other undertakings to actualize the recent decision of the UN making internet access a matter of right. similarly, the Federal Government should review and implement the National Broadband Plan to target over 50% of the population by the year 2019. It drew attention of governments at all levels to harness the potentials of sun light to provide portable, clean and cheap energy for communities to use ICTs. Without improving the electric power situation in the country, the communiqué did not see how the right condition for the effective utilization of the Internet could be created.
The communiqué went further to say that state governments as holders of the mandates of their citizens should take the issues of Internet Governance serious and facilitate the organizing of Internet Governance Forums so that their citizens could make substantive contribution to the global discourse on Internet Governance. It sees a role also for the academia and IT professionals in terms of working to promote greater insertion of our local languages, asking civil society organisations to provide ways of taking the Internet to the rural areas as well as sensitize women on the importance of Internet.
While warning governments to avoid unnecessary taxation that will increase the cost of access and service of internet, the organizers challenged businesses, companies, legislators and philanthropists to assist by building and equipping community internet access centres to facilitate digital inclusion. Companies could channel a significant percentage of their social corporate responsibility in to supporting initiatives aimed at promoting digital inclusion, it said while acknowledging that poverty which it said is more extensive in the North East is a challenge to going online. The communiqué specifically mentioned how a great majority of schools in the North East are not connected to electricity, not talk of the internet.
The North East Internet Governance Forum which took place in Bauchi, Bauchi State was put together by the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) in conjunction with the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF), bringing participants from all the six States of the North East with over 81 people in attendance representing the executive, legislature, civil society, media, private sector, academia, key Federal Government agencies with mandate around Internet and ICT such as the Federal Ministry of Communications, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). This is said to be consistent with the principle of multistakeholder mechanism of the Global Internet Governance Forum
The forum which was the first ever to be in the region and the second sub-national IGF both in Nigeria and globally served as preparation for Nigeria’s participation at both the West Africa sub-regional IGF and the African regional IGF both of which will hold in October and November, 2016 as well as the global IGF that will hold in December 6-9, 2016 in Mexico. The holding of the forum underlined the commitment of both organizations to deepening the processes of consultation in matters of Internet Governance to the grassroots.
With the theme Internet of our choice: Empowering Women and Protecting Children Online, the Forum took eight presentations on various pertinent issues in addition to goodwill messages from the Nigeria Union of Journalists representing the media, Joint Association of People Living with Disabilities (representing civil society), the Commissioner of Education of Yobe State (representing the Executive), Chairman, House Committee on Education, Borno State House of Assembly (representing the State Legislature) and Hon Isah Hassan (representing the National Assembly). The forum ran into three sessions.