Between the hours of 4th and 5th June 2021, Nigerians witnessed the grand exit of the popular social media app, Twitter, following directives from the Nigerian government. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement released on June 4 announced the suspension of Twitter operations in the country. According to an email response sent to The Cable by Sarah Hart, Twitter’s Senior Policy Communications Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, “the announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning. We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more.” The crux of the trending matter of Twitter ban has to do with the deletion of some tweets made by President Buhari.

The step taken to ban Twitter in Nigeria will engender the followings;

  • Profound distrust for the Nigerian government: It is without doubt that there is a severe disconnection between Nigerian citizens and its government. In an ideal society, a government is responsible for its citizens and the primary purpose of people being in positions of power is to serve. However, it is pitiable that Nigerians haven’t had a real taste of what true governance entails. With the ban of Twitter operations, it is plainly adding salt to injury and a continued hatred for “the rulers of Nigeria.”
  • Bad outlook for the Nigerian government: With the disdainful accolades from Nigerians to the Buhari-led administration so far, the suspension of Twitter has fuelled more passionate outcries from the citizenry. People, of course, have questions hanging all around. The actions of the government have started making people doubt the nature of government we operate, whether dictatorial or democratic.
  • At this juncture, it is needful to state that as a country that upholds the tenet of respecting and promoting human rights, the ban of Twitter portrays a dark message. Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. The Twitter platform has been a tool leveraged by the citizenry to checkmate the activities of the government with people, sharing information and freely expressing themselves.

    One way or the other, the right to freedom of expression is being curtailed by the actin of Nigerian government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria. A sane government ought to be vulnerable to the pleas and pains of its citizens. However, Nigerians have lost all hopes in the present government. What is next?

     

    FEHINTOLA OGUNBOWALE

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