- Twitter will soon resume operation in Nigeria as the Federal Government says it is in the final stage of settling with the social media platform
- Jack Dorsey's social network site has been on shutdown for over 106 days, with most Nigerians still using it doing so through VPN
- PR expert, Segun Akinleye says the ban has damaged Nigeria's image among the business community, and the negative impact will remain
After losing billions of naira, the Federal Government is prepared to allow Jack Dorsey's Twitter to continue operation in the social media's second largest user-tweet base in Africa.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, gave the update stating that the government and Twitter are dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, and soon, the social networking site will resume full operation.
This comes after the sudden announcement that Twitter's access into Nigeria will be shutdown through the assistance of telecommunications companies within the country.
The shutdown was made officially on June 5, and it has been about 106 days since Nigerians had to start using VPN, which allows some Twitter users to bypass internet restriction on a network.
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According to Mohammed, the restriction will be lifted in a matter of days, but wasn't specific with timeframe:
“If the operation has been suspended for about 100 days now, I can tell you that we’re just actually talking about a few, just a few more days now."
Lifting restriction comes at a price
Nigerians have paid for the restriction placed on Twitter, as corporate bodies that use Twitter to promote their services through influencers had to put an end to the ads and marketing.
Also, the restriction prevented some Nigerians who are unaware of VPN from accessing Twitter, hence, reducing the number of customer base for persons or merchant using the social media platform as a marketplace.
In all, Nigeria lost N230.77 billion in the last 106 days, losing N2.17 billion daily since the Minister of Information announced the shutdown three months ago.
While the government has not admitted to any loss due to the ban, Public Relations startup founder, Segun Akinleye, told Legit.ng:
"Nigeria has lost a lot from the Twitter ban but it (government) won't admit it."
Why the restriction on Nigeria is a big deal
Aside from Nigeria losing billions of naira, the country is vital to Twitter on the Sub-saharan African market, considering the country records the most tweets behind Egypt as of 2016.
According to Portland Communication, which analysed the top 5,000 hashtags of 1.6 billion geo-located tweets originating from Africa, Nigeria is ahead of South Africa, Kenya and Ghana based on volume of Tweets.
It stated that:
"Egypt tweets the most out of any country in Africa, with 28% of all geolocated Twitter volume (amounting to 500 million tweets). Nigeria (360 million geolocated tweets).
"South Africa (325 million geolocated tweets), Kenya (125 million geolocated tweets) and Ghana (70 million geolocated tweets) round out the top five tweeting African countries."
Ban damage Nigeria's business reputation
For Akinyele, revenue is not the only thing Nigeria lost to the ban, as the country's business reputation has also been damaged;
"The question is, is the world blind? No, the world is not and it is watching."
He told Legit.ng that the government's actions have been denting the image of the country, from the clampdown on EndSARS protesters, to the unlawful detention of activist, Sowore, so the Twitter ban only worsened the situation.
The P.R founder said:
"So, the ban on Twitter is the same. The world is seeing it and it's a further dent on the already battered image of the country. The country has a youthful population that is a goldmine for the business world. Young Nigerians were making money as micro-influencers and some were even getting International gigs.
"It's funny that this government keeps talking about the ease of business and with the VP Osinbajo championing the so-called digital revolution, the ban on Twitter is a slap on the government's face."
Lifting ban to affect Twitter and Government reputation
On the part of the government, Akinleye explained that lifting the ban will only make mockery of the government, but:
"It won't change the fact that the Buhari administration banned Twitter in Nigeria, the first of its kind."
He added that the return to full operation by Twitter will create trust issue between the social media users and the platform, as part of the agreement might include shadowban, which was also demanded in India.
"The Buhari administration will give Twitter some conditions which I don't think the platform can comply with. With the antecedents of this government, it won't be surprising if the government wants some handles to be shadowbanned.
"Once the ban is lifted, trust Nigerians to have misgivings. If Twitter is not careful, Nigerians will not trust it, especially those who use the platform to call out the government. The question is, what conditions will the government give the platform, keeping in mind that this administration is doing everything to limit and censor free speech?"
Nigerian government to create digital naira after crypto ban
Twitter isn't the only thing or company on the ban list of Nigerian government, as it had previously ban cryptocurrency trading in the country.
Following the ban, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that it will provide digital currency to Nigerians willing to aseet virtual asset to their portfolio, but it will be a non-interest bearing asset.
By October, Nigeria will have its own digital currency, e-Naira, which will be provided by the commercial banks after issuing codes to their customers.