By Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday sought the understanding of the United States and its other four partners over ban on twitter.
This is as they remain adamant on their statement condemning the action.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffery Onyeama made the appeal at a meeting with Ambassadors of the five countries that expressed their concern over the twitter ban in the country.
The countries are the US, UK, Canada, EU and Ireland. The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth- Leonard led the team to the meeting.
Beth Leonard said “I will say that first of all that we recognize that there are issues of responsible use of social media but we remain firm on our position that free access to the ability to express one’s self is actually very important perhaps on one part, but also at trouble times.”
She also advised the Nigeria government to identify those who commit crimes and use judicial processes to deal with offenders; adding “but to constrain, that is not the behaviour.”
The envoy also noted that they are glad to hear that Nigeria is interacting with twitter.
On the challenges confronting the country, she said, “I think we made that statement very clear that we are Nigeria’s strong partners. We recognise the daunting times in the area of security challenges that confronts Nigeria. Well they are daunting, they are not insurmountable and part of the way you surmount them is through partnership.”
Onyeama who noted that the meeting was meant to clarify the issues raised in the joint statement by the five countries said, “We are asking them to also support us as we confront all these challenges and we have listened to their opinions.”
He however stressed the message the government wants to send out which is, “keep an eye on the main objective of this government. You were all aware when Mr. President was elected, security was number one on the list of his priority and it is something he really wants to deliver for the people of Nigeria.
“Without security everything else fails.
Investment will not come and lives will be displaced, we will just be a visual cycle.
“What we have done today, will really define the future of the country and that is why Mr. President is absolutely determined that security has been made and Nigerians have to live in peace and security and that we have to keep our country together. We listened to each other and clarified some areas.”
He however said the government was already in discussion with twitter over the ban.
The minister said, “as you yourself have said, discussions are ongoing with twitter, we want to see how that progresses. So I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension. There are conversations with our partners and with social media.”
He also stressed that the government does not have anything against social media saying that what it is doing is to ensure that the social media is put to good use.
He said, “We want to use social media for good. There is a lot of good that can come out of this communication revolution that we have in the world today. A lot of very good things and we want as much as possible as a government that this media should be used for good and I think part of the communication with them we be really towards how to get them really as forces for global good.”
On possible conditions, he said, “the basic condition is really responsible communication. We know the power of words and power of words for good and power of words for bad. You know when you have that kind of power to manage and facilitate the communication of billions of people around the world; it has to come with responsibilities. Absolutely, it has to come with responsibilities. So the condition will be responsible use of media and that really has to be adhered to.”