The urge to ban Twitter and in fact all social media platforms in Nigeria has been making the Nigerian politicians itch for a while now; actually since the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, and the itching got worse during this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari—an administration that has been looking like a dictatorship even before the Twitter ban happened to look like yet another move to sabotage the freedom of expression. Yes we all know that the Nigerian politicians never liked TwitterNg and how influential the people on the platform are on the things that spread about and around the country, in short, TwitterNg poses a threat on the Nigerian politicians; that is where their matters are analysed in all kinds of ways—the logical and the mean ways included, that is also where movements are escalated—countless of protests have been initiated on Twitter, two of which are the renown #OccupyNigeria and #EndSARS protests that shook the country for several days. The latter made the need to ban TwitterNg more necessary and urgent to the politicians, and here we are a couple of months after the protest with a ban on the use of Twitter in Nigeria and the proclamation that the use of Twitter in Nigeria is now a crime.
Everything said up there are elements of a narrative, but that narrative is only about the truth, not the truth. Although the government have been urging to ban Twitter or at least place a lot of checks on it that tweeting on some certain topics or tweeting some kind of tweets could just land such tweep in prison, and such urge had made them tried searching for a democratically justifiable reason to do what they want to do to Twitter, since it would make the government look more dictatorial if it bans Twitter based on the reason that the people on it talk too much. But somehow, with just one tweet, the Twitter company gave the Nigerian government the good reason they have been looking for to ban Twitter; although a lot of Nigerians on Twitter don’t know the implication of the tweet, as we are fond of giving external individuals the go ahead to tweeting derogatory things about Nigeria just because we do not like the government (example of this is when an Arabian clergy was bashing President Buhari so much and Nigerians were cheering him on, not knowing an external attack on President Buhari is an attack on Nigeria, and an attack on Nigeria is an attack on Nigerians). When Twitter tweeted at President Buhari’s Twitter account saying things like “We don’t know who you are or the president of which country you are…”, that’s a serious attack on the sovereignty of Nigeria no matter how you look at it, countries go to war for things like this. So even as Twitter is only a company and not a country, Nigeria still has to prove its sovereignty by fighting back, and the fight back could only be the ban of Twitter in Nigeria. Looking at the latter narrative, you would see Twitter gave the Nigerian government the justifiable reason to do what they’ve been looking for reasons to do. Nigerians may dislike what the government did about Twitter, we may call it tyrannical move against the freedom of speech and freedom of expression, as they actually look like that, but it remains that Twitter gave them that loop, and that left Nigerians to having to use VPN to boycott the Twitter ban and continue using Twitter.
This is not the end of what the federal government would have to do about social media tho, more apps are still going that way till Nigeria becomes the really closed country the politicians need it to be for them to continue being the oppressors and exploiters. It becomes evident every now and then that Nigerian politicians are committed to taking away as many human rights as possible, and they would not stop until everything the Social Media bill is aimed for is achieved; that’s how the elites keep their space.
Olusegun Peters is a businessman, an investor and a scholar. He is the founder of primerinfotech.com and pec-ng.com. He is passionate about contributing his knowledge to impacting as many people as possible one person at a time. Read more about Olusegun Peters here