Following the suspension of the micro-blogging platform, Twitter by the Federal Government on Friday, experts have revealed that the already ‘dangling’ economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will suffer more setbacks.
Tribunepoint Weekly recalls that the FG through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter over alleged “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
But the government later referred to the suspension as temporary.
The shocking news which dropped on Friday evening devastated all social media platforms as it was rumoured that the suspension will include Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and others as Nigerians raged and reprimanded the president and his advisers for taking such a decision.
The Federal Government’s decision to cripple the activities of social media users was not unconnected to the recent outrage by Nigerians over President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged threat against the Southeast people.
Buhari had on Tuesday, June 1, while receiving a briefing from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, threatened to clampdown on some elements in the Southeast for allegedly destroying government facilities in the region.
According to him, attacks on security operatives and government facilities in the region were sponsored by his rivals who desperately want his government to fail, stressing that they will soon receive the shock of their lives. He equally referred to the 30 months’ civil war in the country, saying that young people causing trouble in the Southeast were not born then, threatening to respond in the “language they understand.”
The president’s comment stimulated relatively uncontrollable indignation on social media on Wednesday by concerned Nigerians including some political heavyweights who attacked the Nigerian leader for threatening war against those he was elected to protect.
Following the outrageous tweets on Wednesday by some Nigerians, management of Twitter deleted the president’s controversial tweet, arousing more reactions from Nigerian citizens as many lauded the platform over the deletion while the president’s supporters slammed the platform, accusing it of playing double standards
Some Nigerians who spoke with DAILY POST correspondent lamented the negative effects the Twitter suspension would have on average Nigerians particularly the youths who depend on the platform for their survival, citing the employment crisis hitherto rocking the nation.
Recall that the unemployment rate in Nigeria jumped from 4.31% in 2015 to 7.96% in 2020. Meanwhile, the recent surge in insecurity across the country has also made several Nigerians, particularly farmers and traders jobless due to the activities of bandits, Boko Haram insurgents, herdsmen and unknown gunmen.
On Wednesday, the Onion Producers and Marketers Association (OPMAN) announced its decision to suspend the supply of onions to the southeast owing to insecurity, stating that truckloads of their goods were recently hijacked by unknown gunmen.
Farmers and traders may have been robbed of their jobs by the ravaging security crisis.
Tribunepoint Weekly reports that following the menace of endless job search in the country, some Nigerians have resorted to online business where they buy and sell products using social media platforms particularly the suspended micro-blogging platform, Twitter to market their products.
A user, Margret Femi who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja, said she used the medium (Twitter) to market her fashion, a petty business she established to make ends meet.
“Since I started my fashion business in 2019 after my one-year compulsory service, I have been making sales using Twitter.
“I could have used other platforms like Facebook but we meet our targeted customers on Twitter and most customers believe in information on it than any other medium.
“The Federal Government should give us a job or restore the platform with immediate effect. It is not a crime to be born in Nigeria.
“I have been searching for a job everywhere and it seems like to be employed in this country, you must come from a rich home or a family of a politician. We have been helping ourselves. They should not force out the best in us”, she said.
Similarly, a talented singer who simply identified himself as Wiz Money, said he and other up and coming artists used the platform to promote their tracks, stating that it was easier to meet superstars via the medium.
“Whenever we drop a fresh track, we usually tweet the link and tag some superstars with the hope that one day we shall be noticed.
“Besides that, I have over two thousand followers on Twitter so I also use it to advertise products for whoever needs it. That is how we get the money to push ourselves,” he said.
Thousands of Nigerians employed by different private organisations to manage their firms’ Twitter handle may soon be relieved of their jobs following the ban on the platform by the Federal Government.
An economic expert, James Adoga who spoke with Tribunepoint Weekly correspondent from Lagos State, identified some areas the FG’s move may affect the economy.
According to him, “Social media as a whole, is a new buzz in the area of marketing which includes small businesses, organizations and brands, helping them to create news, make friends, connections and followers.
“The world has gone digital and the market is also gradually moving from the usual physical gatherings to the buying and selling that happens via the social media such as the suspended Twitter.
“Some private organizations such as the telecommunication industries and banks, use social media to enhance the performance of their firms in various ways such as accomplishing business objectives through increment in annual profits from sales and services.
“It provides stands as a communication platform that facilitates two ways communication between the company and their stockholders.
“Many businesses in the country have been promoted via a social medium like the suspended Twitter. Many organizations achieve this by giving advertisement on the platform to attract maximum users or customers.
“Through this medium, customers can connect and interact with their suppliers without transport fare. So the importance of the medium to the Nigerian economy cannot be overemphasized considering the numerous benefits it has on individuals.
“Following the ban on Twitter, the performance of many companies will drop and several persons will join the group of unemployed youths”.
Another expert, Mr Onome Akogba said the suspension may further worsen the already deteriorating security situation across the country.
According to him, the medium has helped in keeping most jobless youths busy, stating that shutting it down may force them into the street, posing more threats to security of lives and property.
He added that police and other security operatives have always received security alerts from the medium which enhance prompt actions against the criminal elements.
“Social media makes it easier to disseminate activities of criminals whenever it occurs as all you need to do is just click a button and the security operative will swiftly respond. This has saved many lives in the past.
“I can tell you without any fear that banning Twitter from operating in the country will worsen the crisis which has spread across the country”.
However, against the earlier announcement by Lai Mohammed, that the platform was suspended indefinitely, the presidency on Saturday said the suspension of the micro-blogging platform, was temporary.
In a statement issued by Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, the presidency said the move to suspend the platform was not triggered by only the deletion of President Buhari’s tweet.
According to Garba, Twitter had permitted misinformation and fake news threatening the corporate existence of the country.
“The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post.
“Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.
“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to the loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart”, Garba added.
But experts are of the opinion that the Nigerian government failed to look at the negative effects of the ban as many influencers on the platform and others who depend on Twitter campaigns for survival would be hit hard by the ban. According to them, the already deteriorating economy will further suffer for it and unemployment rate will shoot up.