The Nigerian government announced the suspension of Twitter’s activities in the country indefinitely because “the platform has been used for actions that may undermine the survival of Nigeria’s unity”.
The ban came few days after the social media giant deleted a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari that violated its rules, and in response, the federal government imposed a ban on Twitter’s activities in the country.
The ban on Twitter (the platform that helped the ruling party win the 2015 presidential election) is part of the government’s plan to regulate social media. In 2017, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohamed, accused social media of “siege of disinformation and fake news”
In 2019, the Minister of Information supported an anti-social media law called “Protections from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations”, which was initiated by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa of the ruling APC party. The government also ordered that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Netflix and Skype obtain permission from the National Broadcasting Commission before operating in the country.
In 2015, President Buhari, who had imprisoned hundreds of people after taking office in 1983, used social media as part of his campaign strategy, portraying himself as the “transitioned Democrat”. Buhari who was overthrown in another coup in 1985 before being elected president in 2015 has rained hail and brimstone on citizens of Nigeria, this stringent regime has seen several human rights activists and journalists imprisoned and some even charged with treason.
About 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, greater than Ghana’s entire populace of 32 million. If anything, this proves that Nigeria-Twitter alignment was a marriage made in heaven (till Buhari happened).
The Twitter ban has sent the wrong message to foreign investors, suffice it to say that, it would affect small businesses that use Twitter to make a living in Nigeria. Nigerian companies use digital media to reach customers, showcase their brands and communicate with various stakeholders. No narrative can exonerate Buhari of this goof.