Nigeria: Financial Loss to Twitter Ban Insignificant to Nigeria's Integrity - Govt

(file photo).
10 June 2021

The federal government has acknowledged that Twitter and its users in Nigeria are facing huge financial loss, following the social media platform's suspension in Nigeria.

But the government insisted that the loss was insignificant, when compared to the integrity of Nigeria.

The Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Dr. Garba Abari, said this on ARISE News Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, while responding to a question on the controversy surrounding the matter.

He insisted that the federal government had to take the decision in order to protect national interest and integrity.

According to him, "It is a difficult decision to take because of the economic implications, but it is also a right decision of government because Nigeria must exist as a country and government has a duty to defend the country's integrity."

The federal government last week, suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, following the action of Twitter to delete the post of President Muhammadu Buhari, which Twitter said could be incisive to violence and which negates its community standards. Few hours after the suspension was announced, FaceBook, another social media platform, which owns and controls WhatsApp, also pulled down the same post of President Buhari, while citing violation of international standards.

Following the announcement, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed all telecoms operators to deactivate access to all Twitter subscribers in Nigeria, an order that had since been carried out.

In spite of the deactivation, many Nigerians continued to tweet with their twitter handles, through the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Some social media users have been bitter with the federal government over the development and have warned government of its implications.

Nigerians who depend on Twitter for their business growth and expansion, said they have lost so much money to its suspension since it cost them more to use VPN to support their tweets.

The Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), has however called for a continued dialogue with stakeholders in the social media ecosystem.

ISPON, which said it has been following the unfolding events, stressed the need for dialogue as the best means to address the issue.

According to a statement released by ISPON, and singed by its President, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, "ISPON notes in its memo released on November 24, 2020 under the subject: 'Framing a National Consensus on Social Media Management', that Nigeria has been navigating the digital transformation journey that all nations are undergoing with varying degrees of success.

"With the growth of the digital economy, government's definition of national security is rightly seen as fundamental to the social media management issue however, Nigeria's interest is better served by a progressive policy that creates an enabling environment for local entrepreneurship and the ecosystem on which it depends on to thrive."

The statement further said: "Accordingly, the Institute has actively supported efforts to consider and recommend an approach to designing a social media policy that protects all Nigerians and promotes its use in a positive and productive way."

Mba-Uzoukwu said ISPON had been proactive in driving the conversation with stakeholders, and reiterated that "Our jointly issued report in December 2020 titled Who Decides Social Media Policy, continues to guide us in a multi-stage programme on a collective journey towards ensuring that Nigeria becomes a player in the global economy by accelerating the growth of the human capital and propagation of information technology adoption and use exponentially."

He called on stakeholders to continue the engagement already underway to work together in an open and transparent manner and in good faith, to achieve a policy environment that secures the national interest and the aspirations of all Nigerians.

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