Popular microblogging site Twitter was banned in Nigeria earlier this month after the platform deleted a tweet made by the country’s President – Muhammadu Buhari. The already deleted tweet read, “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 that they understand”. According to Twitter, the tweet went against the company’s policies and had to be taken down.
Twitter is used by individuals, brands, businesses, organizations, etc., for different purposes that cut across communication, information dissemination, brand visibility, etc. Putting a hold on Twitter services has had a huge impact on not only individuals and business but on the nation as a whole and according to statistics, Nigeria loses millions of naira for every 24 hours that passes with Twitter remaining banned.
According to newspaper reports and statistics, Nigeria has lost at least N24 billion naira since the microblogging platform was banned in the country, and will continue to lose more revenue as the days go by without the decision being reversed. About 40 million Nigerians use Twitter; 20 percent of them use the platform for business advertisement and about 18 percent use it to look for job opportunities. The Director of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce said that “the ban has significant collateral damage”. Dumebi Iyeke; a research analyst said that young Nigerians would be hit more by the ban and that it could further lower the already low standard of living amid high inflation in the country.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture – Lai Mohammed, Twitter was banned because it provided a medium for people threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria to thrive. He accused Twitter’s CEO; Jack Dorsey of helping to fund the recent #EndSars protest and said his platform failed to delete a tweet by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that called for the killing of policemen.
There is still no news as to if the Federal Government’s decision will be rescinded and when that will happen if at all. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs – Geoffrey Onyeama, Twitter will be allowed to thrive if only the platform can be used “responsibly”. “We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing; why we have taken this measure is to stop them to be used as a platform for destabilization and facilitation of criminality or encouragement of criminalities”, he said.
Twitter has shown concerns about the ban and described it as “deeply concerning”. In a statement, the company said that “the announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning. We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more”. The company has since reached out to the Nigerian Government intending to come to a resolution.
The U.S. Government has also condemned the ban of Twitter in Nigeria and described it as sending a poor message to foreign investors. However, influential people like the former President of the U.S. –Donald Trump have appraised the Government’s decision to ban the microblogging platform which also suspended his account months ago.
Twitter, which is a source of livelihood for many Nigerians has continued to be accessed using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). The Nigerian Broadcasting Service, however, has asked Government-owned services under it to deactivate their accounts.
Nigeria continues to lose millions of Naira as the days go by, and it doesn’t look like the Federal Government is ready to annul its decision. Analysts believe that the ban would cause more pain than gains and suggest that the Federal Government take back its decision.