After 222 days, President Muhammadu lifts the ban on Twitter. This is coming on the heels of the huge losses the Nigerian economy incurred over its ban.
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The announcement of the ban lift was made by the Chairman Technical Committee, Nigeria-Twitter Engagement and Director-General National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, through a memo that the President has approved the lifting of the ban effective on midnight, 13th January 2022.
The lifting of the ban was initially announced on Independence Day, 1st October 2021, during the President speech. It looked as though Twitter had reached a consensus on establishing itself as an organisation registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Further, Buhari indicated that the embargo would continue until Twitter registered in Nigeria, had a physical presence, and representation.
Recalling that the ban had taken effect on June 4, 2021, Twitter deleted the tweet made by the President, which had in it some “violation of the company’s abusive behaviour policy.” To put it precisely, the President had tweeted to deal with a section of the country “in a language that they understand”. This was interpreted as the promise to use violence as a solution to quenching protests against the government in the southeast.
The President feeling his fragile ego bruised over the deletion of his tweet by Twitter suspended the microblogging platform from operating in Nigeria on June 5, 2021.
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On this, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria had said,
“We, The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter… ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the directive by internationally accepted principles.”
This ban had a huge negative effect on several Nigerian businesses, especially small and medium businesses. Similarly, according to the NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool, Nigeria lost N104.02 million (over $250,600) every hour to the ban, bringing daily losses to N2.46 billion. As of the end of Wednesday, 12th January, day 222 since the ban, the loss had reached a record high of N546.5 billion.
Despite the ban, some Nigerians, including government officials, continued to use the microblogging site through the use of installed Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN is a technology that encrypts your Internet traffic on unsecured networks to protect your online identity and hide your details.
The lifting of the ban was received with mixed feelings. While some applauded the removal of the ban, others felt the move was political.
To a large extent, the Nigerian government accomplished nothing with the ban on Twitter but lost everything, summed up in over N500 billion.
Featured Image Source: Punch Newspapers
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Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.