Effective today, President Buhari has lifted the 222-day-old ban on Twitter in Nigeria, maintaining that the lift was a result of Twitter’s willingness to run its activities in cooperation with the Federal Government.
The President’s approval was given, following a memo written to him by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Chairman, Technical Committee, Nigeria-Twitter Engagement announced the lift of the Twitter ban yesterday.
Abdullahi said that he was informed to announce the development, which fruited from a memo to the President by Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. In the memo, Prof. Ibrahim requested that the ban be lifted as recommended by the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement.
Limited Right to Freedom of Speech
Amidst the nationwide glee, it is noteworthy that the return of Twitter to Nigerians comes at a price of total freedom of speech, The new agreement with the tech company allows the Federal Government to access, manipulate or delete citizens’ tweets that are deemed unscrupulous, hateful, or fake by the government.
Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) advocated for freedom of speech on the social platform. He opined that the Federal Government should not disregard citizens’ right to speech by stifling conversations that are opposing or criticizing
“FG should not gag the microblogging platform. They should understand and be ready to listen to opposing voices. Constructive criticisms should be welcomed.”
Nigerian Users to be Taxed
The Federal Government has upheld the mandatory excise levy on Twitter, making it one of the first to comply with the recent announcement by the government to tax all foreign companies that provide digital services in Nigeria.
According to the statement, the tech giant agreed to this as part of the conditions for overturning the Twitter ban
“Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.
Meanwhile, reports by NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool placed a loss of N104.02 million ($250,600) every hour due to the ban, climaxing in about N546 billion. According to Ogunbajo, the economic effects of the Twitter ban can be assuaged by the tax revenue from the tech firm.
“We sympathize with businesses and organisations that recorded losses, but it is better late than never. Consolation is that the platform is back, businesses can run and FG can make money from the planned taxes on social media platforms.”
More Jobs for Nigerians
Twitter’s agreement with the Federal Government also requires the company to register in Nigeria under the CAC, expand its operations in Nigeria, and appoint a country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities. This should translate to increased employment opportunities for qualified people, if the tech company follows the MoU that ended the Twitter ban in Nigeria