The twitter ban by the Federal Government of Nigeria came as an appalling news to all and sundry. The ban incited provocative reactions and non consenting feedbacks even from the international communities. What went through the minds of some persons must have been the reason for taking such drastic decision by the government of the day. It is believed that the reason for the twitter ban was as a result of what transpired prior to the ban. Prior to the ban on twitter, the President of Nigeria posted a controversial tweet, which a cross section of the Nigerian populace found unpalatable. This resulted to the call for twitter to take action by a good number of Nigerian twitter users. Twitter responded by deleting the controversial aspect of the President’s post citing a violation of it policy. In a swift reciprocation, the Federal Government of Nigeria placed an indefinite suspension on the use of twitter in Nigeria. However, the government denied that the ban on twitter was because the President’s post was removed but cited the irresponsible use of twitter and threat to national security.
Furthermore, a close scrutiny on the event that led to twitter ban in Nigeria within the period under review reveals that the reasons given by the government for suspending twitter is unconvincing and at large of contrary intention. This further exacerbates the mistrust of the citizenry towards the government. An evident revelation which upheld the reasons for twitter ban been not convincing was when a presidential spoke person said “Federal government has defeated twitter”. This statement shows that the twitter ban was a retaliatory action against twitter by the central government of which genuine reason is void. Twitter is a micro blogging and social networking service that host wide range of users especially in Nigeria. Twitter is not only a medium for communication but also serve as a source of livelihood and promotion of talent. Twitter like every other social media platforms has laid down policy that governs it operation and it binds on all it users.
The use of twitter in Nigeria has been for a longtime. It has given voice to people across board to express their opinion on concerning issues especially those affecting our dear country Nigeria. Above all, the social media has relatively been helpful in advancing the fundamental and inalienable right of citizens in freedom of expression and from oppression especially from State actors. The popular use of social media as a medium for criticism on the policies and actions of government has stirred irritability on the part of State actors. The government of the day has always found social media to be a thorn in its flesh. This is because unlike other media outlets that are regulated by an agency of government, which is use in some cases as a predator on the broadcasting space, the social media continues to serve as an open platform for communication beyond the reach of government influence. The social media has built a communal friendship amongst its users such that interactions and self expression is made feasible.
The use of social media platforms like twitter in Nigeria to clearly express concern on matters of public interest has been proliferated. There is a common saying that where there is no law, sin is not an offence. The government of Nigeria has raised concern on the need for the regulation of social media because of what they termed “Irresponsible use of social media”. However, if the sin of Nigerians is to utilize social media platforms such as twitter not just as a source of livelihood but a medium to demand accountability and good governance on the part of State actors then, the ban on twitter and the campaign for social media regulation is of contrary intention.
The government of the day should be more accommodating to criticism across all levels including those from the social media. If the government has issues with any social media platform all it needs to do is call the attention of the management team to address such concern. This is the 21st century; the swift enforcement of crude policies is not the best solution. The ban on twitter is truly uncalled for and not in the interest of common good. Frankly speaking, the ban on twitter in Nigeria does not make her better civilized or even a developed country. Nigeria has a lot of pertinent issues that needs urgent attention and I tell you, to compare, the problem of twitter is negligible. Nigeria should begin to grow in the maturity of acknowledging the right to freedom of speech, expression and association even in an open internet space.
Victor Okonjo is a student of Computer Engineering, Federal University of Technology Akure. He has a keen drive in the creative expression of thought and ideas through the Pen. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org