As Nigerians continue to express shock and disbelief over Federal Government’s indefinite suspension of the operations of micro blogging and social networking service, Twitter, in the country, the Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos based Non Government Organization, has described the Federal Government’s decision as obnoxious, undemocratic and a pronouncement in bad light and therefore demands an immediate and unconditional reversal of the directive
The Group spoke recently in Lagos via a statement signed by its Programme Coordinator, Media and Policy, Utomi Jerome-Mario, and made available to the media.
According to SEJA, the development has more than anything else established how out of track the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government has taken this nation.
On the claim by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the decision was occasioned by Twitter’s persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, the Group stressed that such argument cannot hold water when faced with embarrassing facts. The Group further observed that the Federal Government directive to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria is another effort in futility.
Continuing, the rights advocates lamented that what is however curious is that instead of joining Nigeria and Nigerians to mourn the dearth of leadership and out of ordered society we have recently become under this administration, strange supports is given to the present obnoxious policy by some individuals and organizations who ordinarily ought to be development-minded.
‘We are particularly worried about the torrent of spurious arguments and slanted approval by those who ordinarily ought to know that what the Federal Government is doing cannot in any way be judged as right’.
SEJA said in parts; though it is hard to believe, but it is true that the greatest of such controversial support and spurious argument came from a sister organization and one of the foremost media rights group in Africa known as Media Rights Protectors as it recently threw it’s full weight behind the decision of the Nigerian government to ban the activities of Twitter in the country.
Recall that the Media Rights Protectors had in a statement released to newsmen by the group’s Director of African Affairs, Dr. Michael Warungu in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital on Friday night, among other things noted that, Twitter has deviated from promoting free speech, deepening democracy and encouraging balanced and objective journalism to dabbling in to Africa’s domestic affairs by promoting regime change across the continent. And accused Twitter of ruthlessly promoting its commercial interest in Africa rather than promoting developmental projects, democracy and it’s institutions in Africa’.
This controversial position and endorsement notwithstanding, Utomi argued that SEJA can only support policies of the government and, the positive purpose of the elected government if it will not in any way dent/obstruct the SEJA’s primary responsibility to the masses in a democratic society.
We note with sadness that this present action taken by the Federal Government is unpalatable, unacceptable and shall not stand, Utomi explained.
Across the world, the media such as Twitter is used to among other things inculcate and reinforce positive political, cultural, social attitudes among the citizenries. And ‘where the media are free, the marketplace of ideas sorts the irresponsible from the responsible and rewards the later’. We must therefore, allows Twitter to function in the country as it presently assists all particularly our youths to create a mood in which they become keen to acquire skills and disciplines of developed nations.
To this end, we join well-meaning Nigerians to demand from the Federal Government immediate and unconditional reversal of such directive as it is obnoxious, undemocratic,