We chat to two Nigerians working in media about the restoration of Twitter across the country.
In the late hours of January 12, 2022, the Nigerian government announced the discontinuation of its Twitter ban seven months after it was placed. According to a statement by the National Information Technology Development Agency, signed by President Buhari, the primary cause for lifting the ban was the social media platform’s agreement to open a local office.
Twitter has been a major tool that young Nigerians have used to air their grievances against their government, and foster communities to seek change. The platform served as a strong force during the #EndSARS protests as a virtual protest point, helping circulate important information that peacefully mobilized protesters and secured the release of detained protesters.
"The voices of young Nigerians are often placed in a box by the ruling class, never to be heard," comments journalist Nasir Ahmed Achile. "But the communities formed on Twitter reinforced the idea of strength in numbers and the understanding that we’re all so alike, facing similar struggles, fighting the same oppression."
It came as a big blow on the 8th of June 2021, when the Nigerian government decided to place a ban on Twitter after the platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, which threatened citizens in the southeast region following destruction of public property.
We are pleased that Twitter has been restored for everyone in Nigeria. Our mission in Nigeria & around the world, is to serve the public conversation. \nWe are deeply committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by people for commerce, cultural engagement, and civic participation.— Twitter Public Policy (@Twitter Public Policy) 1642034128
“So many businesses have been affected by the Twitter ban, small and big alike," says Cosmas Ojemen, the Creative Director of Pith Africa. "Some existing and potential customers stopped using the app altogether because of the extra steps it took to login each time with a VPN. And businesses themselves faced the anxiety of possible government action against them. I’m glad it’s back.”
The decision to ban the social network at the time was condemned by many nations including the UK, Canada, the US, and members of the EU, however, the Nigerian government stood firm in saying that the removal of the tweet was ‘disappointing.’
According to the government statement, the decision to lift the ban was made after Twitter agreed to meet all conditions set by the Nigerian government. Those conditions include "managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian law, and addressing issues of operations and tax,” CNN reported.
"The new global reality is that digital platforms and their operators wield enormous influence over the fabric of our society, social interaction, and economic choices. These platforms can be used as either a tool or a weapon. Therefore, our action is a deliberate attempt to recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for our nation without jeopardizing the justified interests of the company. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful," the Nigerian government said in its Wednesday statement.
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