THE federal government on Monday said the operations of Twitter in Nigeria will be restored only if “responsible communication” can be assured on the platform. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said after a meeting with some envoys on Monday that while there is no definite timeline for this lifting the ban, “the condition (for lifting the suspension) would be responsible use of social media”.
The envoys the minister met with include those of the U.S., UK, Canada and the European Union, which had earlier issued a joint statement to condemn the federal government’s proscription of Twitter. This prompted the federal government to summon the envoys for a behind-closed-door parley.
He told journalists after the meeting that: “When you have the power to communicate, it has to come with responsibilities.
“We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing. Why we have taken this measure is to stop them from being used as platforms for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality or encouragement of criminalities.”
He added that this decision was key to maintaining security in the country, because “without security, everything else fails. We will all be losers. What we do today will define the future of the country.”
The minister said the Buhari administration was committed to protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians. “Nigerian lives matter and we have to do everything we can to preserve Nigerian lives. And when we feel our goals are threatened, actions need to be taken.
“It’s to see to what extent this media can be a force of good and not for the facilitation of criminalities or the destabilisation of the country. We can disagree, but Nigerians’ lives matter.
“Differences of opinion is not a problem; everybody will not think alike, but we want to use social media for good. There is a lot of good that can come out of communication today. Part of the conversation will be how to use them for global good,” said the minister.
Asked if the government is seeking Chinese advice on how to place a firewall around the internet in the country, the minister said: “I’m not aware of any meeting with the Chinese authorities in respect of social media.”