The Federal Government of Nigeria has today announced the indefinite suspension of the operations of a microblogging site, Twitter.
The decision was announced by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, through a press statement issued by the Ministry’s spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi.
In addition, the statement added that the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.
Why the Nigerian Government suspended Twitter
Recall that on Tuesday 1st of May 2021, Twitter had deleted a post made by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, where he spoke about the civil war experience and threatened to deal with those bent on destroying Nigeria through insurrection. The president was quoted saying: ‘’Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Sequel to this, Twitter deleted the post on the grounds that the tweet violated its rules. Accompanying the President’s tweet was a short message beneath which reads: ‘’ This Tweet violated the Twitter rules.”
Following Twitter’s action, opposition members and other social critics of the President called for the permanent suspension of his account. Re-echoing this thought is a message from a renowned critic of president, Reno Omokri which reads: ‘’I commend Twitter for deleting General Muhammadu Buhari’s Tweet threatening Civil War 2 on the Southeast of Nigeria. That was a most irresponsible tweet, and Nigerians are indeed grateful to Jack Dorsey for taking that action. But please do not stop there. Delete his account. He is a menace to the world.’’
Naijabusiness.com.ng understands that this is not the first time that Twitter will be suspending or deleting the post made by a sitting president. The social media giants took a more punitive measure against former American President, Donald Trump when it suspended his accounts on the grounds that he instigated the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol.
Given the bad blood generated from this saga, a lot of critics believe that the recent action from the FG is in line with its usual antics of silencing all contrary or opposing opinions.
However, on the other hand, the Federal Government did not accept this view. According to the honourable minister of Information, the decision to ban Twitter is due to the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Implication of the ban
According to recent data from Statista, Twitter is the sixth most used social media platform in Nigeria. As of Q3 2020, the micro-blogging site has about 17.19 million users in Nigeria, accounting for 61.4% of the total social media users in the country.
Obviously, this is a great market opportunity and prospect for the company, as the number of users’ is equivalent to the total population of some African countries. In this light, the firm if permanently suspended will lose a considerable amount of revenue.
With advancement in technology, a lot of Nigerians are already planning on connecting to Twitter through a VPN, incase the treat by the FGN remains. In this light, the end goal of the ban might not be achieved.
Given that Twitter recently cited its regional headquarters in Ghana few months ago, snubbing Nigeria and South Africa, the recent ban if maintained might vindicate that decision. The ban in the international community might depicts that the Federal Government of Nigeria is unfriendly or hostile to opposing views. Especially in recent times when the FG is on the spot light over issues bothering on fundamental rights. The ban is most likely to be a dent to the image of the government and a dissuading factor to other multinationals that might want to consider doing business in Nigeria
Whatever the case may be, a truce is most likely to pay both parties, meaning that both FG and Twitter will benefit from a cease-fire and might both suffer in a situation where the ban is maintained.