In response to the concern expressed by members of the diplomatic community on the Federal Government ban on Twitter, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, has met with the envoys to clarify the decision of the Federal Government.
It may be recalled that following the ban on Twitter, a joint statement was issued by Diplomatic missions of Canada, The EU (delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Speaking at the meeting, Onyeama reassured the diplomatic missions that Nigeria is not in any way against the use of social media which is known for information dissemination, and very integral to international relations, but that its positive usage for responsible communication is what the government requires “as it can be used to do good and can be used to do bad”.
The Minister also maintained that in the event of the manifestation of the bad side of social media on human life and on the unity of a country, it is the responsibility of government to maintain law and order, in order to preserve human life. In this direction, he said government has it as a duty to rebalance social media as forces of good and not for the facilitation of crime.
According to the Minister, “We know the power of words and when you have that kind of power to manage and facilitate communication to billions of people, it has to come with responsibility. So, we are taking this measure to see to what extent we can balance this media as forces of good and stop them being used as a platform for destabilization.”
Asked on when the ban is likely to be lifted, the Minister said discussions are ongoing with Twitter on how to amicably settle the matter.
Responding on behalf of the envoys, the United States’ Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, said the diplomatic missions maintain their position on the importance of free access to the ability to express oneself, while she also recognises the official position of the Nigerian government on the responsible use of social media.
Amb. Leonard also used the occasion to address the security issue in Nigeria, asserting the US, as Nigeria’s strongest partner on the issue of security. She mentioned that, she identifies with government on the current insecurity challenge and added that with further collaborations with US, UK, Canada, Republic of Ireland and other developed nations, victory is in sight.
She concluded by expressing optimism about the government reaching common ground with Twitter soon.