By Ismaila Chafe, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari has cautioned Nigerians abroad against the use of social media to insult and incite others from a safe and anonymous distance.
He rather urged them to always strive to promote Nigeria’s unity.
The president’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement on Thursday, said Buhari gave the advice in Lisbon, Portugal, while speaking at a meeting with representatives of Nigerians living in that country on Wednesday night.
According to the president, the social media can be a force for good, as well as a force for evil, urging all Nigerian citizens to make use of the social media for the general good of the society.
He said: “The world is a global village and technology has shrunk the world even more.
“Although you reside beyond Nigeria’s boundaries, you can engage easily with the country. In fact, we see the impact of that engagement clearly on social media.
“This platform has empowered Nigerians in the Diaspora and given you great influence. As we have seen, however, social media can be a force for good as well as a force for evil.
“Many countries, including our own, have had to take strong measures against some social media platforms to curb their excesses and prevent them from destabilising our societies.
“I, therefore, call upon you to use the social media responsibly. We all want the best for our country and people; so, let us strive to build, unite and prosper our nation and people.”
Buhari expressed delight at the successful involvement of Nigerians abroad in various fields such as agriculture, health care, education, ICT and the food industry in Nigeria.
He noted that many countries, including Nigeria, had shown that their citizens in the Diaspora could be a veritable engine for growth and development.
The president said: “In every field of human endeavour, be it the creative industries, sports, health and academia, Nigerians in the Diaspora have thrived and leveraged on their skills to raise our country’s profile higher, economically, socially, technologically and culturally.
“It is for these reasons that this government established the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), to facilitate and support your engagement with our country for a win-win outcome in our efforts to keep Nigerians united at home and abroad.
“You must continue to be our ambassadors-at-large in your comportment, actions and character.
“You must excel and be the best in all your endeavours. While here, you must also not forget home, as you are the example we want to project to the rest of the world.’’
Buhari assured the meeting, coordinated by the Chairman of NIDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to catalyse development in various fields of the economy.
He also encouraged them to key into the programmes of NIDCOM, so as to contribute to initiatives such as the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund.
On the forthcoming 2023 general elections, the president reiterated his administration’s determination to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to continue to enjoy a free hand in the discharge of its responsibilities
He said that the government would ensure that INEC delivered peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible elections in 2023, saying that with the conclusion of the primaries of the political parties, “all eyes are now on the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
“We also look forward to a smooth transition to the next government. As I have said before, our administration will not compromise on doing the right things and the welfare of Nigerians, home and abroad,’’ he said.
While citing the last gubernatorial elections in Anambra and Ekiti State, Buhari noted that his administration had proven consistently its zero tolerance for interference in elections and insistence that Nigerians should be allowed to vote for the party and candidate of their choice.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Portugal, Alex Kefas, earlier told the president that “records indicate that there are some 3,000 Nigerians living in the country, who are generally well-behaved and living peacefully among themselves and their host country.”
He, however, informed the president of the recent arrest and detention of about 13 Nigerians for alleged offences of money laundering and cybercrime.
He explained that the Embassy conducted a consular visit to the prison, which revealed that the arrests were “disproportionate and unjust’’, as many of them were innocent of the allegations.
Kefas said that the embassy was trying its best to ensure the release of the citizens to enable them to reunite with their families.
At the meeting, a Nigerian professional footballer, Saviour Godwin, who plays for Portuguese side, Casa Pia, presented a jersey to President Buhari.