The indefinite suspension of Twitter, a microblogging platform which started on Friday June 4 2021 was as a result of company deleting a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari which the platform deemed as inciting violence. The government said it would not have none of Twitter’s actions to undermine the “corporate existence” of Nigeria and its meddling in the nation’s internal affairs.
The government’s action is giving rise to outrage and international pressure bringing about International Communities including European Union, United Kingdom, United States of America, Ireland and Canada berating the ban which they said passed a poor message about Nigeria to investors and business. Amidst this the Nigerian government said the ban was temporary.
However the effects of the ban has begun to take its toll on struggling Nigerian economy accounting to a loss of over ₦7 billion in the past 3 days.
The decision to suspend Twitter could backfire on the government and cost the country economically in terms of new investment into its technology sector. It may threaten Nigeria’s status as one of the best-performing African countries in attracting investment for technology startup.
Nigeria’s startup scene has experienced growth in a short time although it reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. It has resulted in jobs for a significant number of people and revenue in the form of taxes for the government. However, this ban has put all of it at risk.
For most start ups their business depends, in some part, on Twitter. The number of vendors on Twitter and Instagram is a testament to this and without access to Twitter to run marketing campaigns or build relationship with their customers, business woukd take a hit. Also, applications built using Twitter APIs are affected.
Asides that, the ban could affect the operations of some government agencies and parastatals. For instance, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control which usually updates the country daily statistics of the pandemic on its official twitter handle before doing same on its website, failing to do so on Saturday. Likewise, that caused delay in accessing the infections daily tally from the disease centre until later on Sunday morning when the website was uploaded with daily figures.
Besides the financial loss, Bala Zaka, an investment expert, said the signal it sends to international investment should be more worrisome to the government, who he said should have engaged Twitter diplomatically.
Twitter is a global communication platform. It connects people from different parts of the world economically, politically and socially. When you realise the influence this has on the business world, you would not want to take any action against the platform hastily. But that is what Nigeria has just done, which will go a long way to affect the confidence in the market,” Zaka said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Network of NGOs has expressed concerns about the ban on Twitter by the Federal Government. This ban, according to the Nigeria Network of NGOs runs contrary to Mr. President’s commitment to civic space to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) community.
The body noted that as a member of the Community of Democracies, Nigeria has a role to play in demonstrating leadership by respecting the rights of citizens to access and use information.