The Nigerian government has reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of expression, with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, saying that it is not in the interest of the government to stifle free speech but to promote healthy communication.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the Minister made the remarks on Wednesday when he received a team from Google West Africa on a courtesy call to his office in Abuja.
Mohammed said that information is critical to the survival of any country and that it is important to have a platform where people can express themselves freely. However, he added that freedom comes with enormous responsibility, which should not translate to an avenue for the creation of anarchy in the country.
The Minister commended Google’s effort to collaborate with the government to find common ground for the regulation of online platforms such that they will not be used against the people they are meant to serve.
He disclosed that the federal government will continue to promote freedom of expression, allowing the environment to be free for everybody to express themselves and have the right of access to information. However, he noted that it is critical that those who are responsible for bringing out this information or creating the platforms are also very conscious of the fact that it can easily be used against the people it is meant to serve.
“We will partner with Google in promoting the free flow of information because democracy cannot survive without freedom of expression,” Mohammed said.
He commended Google for the good work they are doing and stated that the Ministry would continue to engage with them and with others in its category to see that the issue of fake news becomes a thing of the past.
In his remark, the leader of the delegation from Google West Africa, Mr. Olumide Balogun, stated that in the last three years, Google has trained over 3,500 journalists to use different tools for news verification, including digital tools to manage misinformation.
He said that Google has a team that helps news organisations across the world, including Nigeria, through the “Google Innovation Challenge” to innovate and introduce new innovations to news organisations. He added that one of the innovations that Google funded, called “full fact,” is an AI technology that helps in fact-checking.
The Google team pledged to support the Ministry by training staff on online skills.