Twitter: Nigerians wait as the clock ticks

Millions of Twitter users in Nigeria can’t wait to be back on the micro – blogging platform.

They are rearing to, ready to post tweets and do what they really love most – expressing themselves freely.

Most of Nigeria’s political leaders, institutions of state, policy makers and captains of industry are addicted to twitter.

Also hooked unto the micro blogging platform is a generation of upwardly mobile Nigerian youths who are using Twitter as a site for encouraging networking, and the promotion of business and other economic transactions.

The clock is ticking. Days are gradually giving way to hours; hours to minutes; as the countdown begins, and public expectation mounts.

According to information that os filtering out, any moment from now, the Nigerian authorities will let go and Twitter, which has been banned for more than 60 days, would resume full
operations in Nigeria.

Not many Nigerians have warmed up to the idea of using VPN apps to achieve unlimited access to the platform.

Of course, there were threats from the Nigerian Government which said it would deal with those who dare to undermine its order.

Although an ECOWAS court had put Nigeria’s plan on hold, there was however, what to do about the extra expenditure that Twitter users would incure in a country that is yet to recover from the global economic meltdown caused by the Covid era.

But sanity appears to have returned after both sides committed to an agreement, based on mutual respect and what looks like a new partnership.

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture who announced the plan said all the hurdles in the way of meaningful  understanding have been overcome.

Twitter may be demanding a greater sense of responsibility on the part of its users when it reopens shop.

There are already policies which outlaw abuses, hate speeches and bullying on social media.

Nigerians would thus, be watching to see what new elements of control Twitter may initiate in a society that demands unlimited freedom, but which is faced with challenges like banditry and insurgency, widening ethnic differences and growing intolerance among religious groups.

With a population of over two hundred million people, Nigeria is one of the largest markets in the African continent.

Millions of naira as well as opportunities have been lost by businesses, which depend on the micro blogging platform, since the face – off began.

 According to Netblocks, a watchdog that monitors the cost to business occasioned by internet outages and app restrictions among others, businesses in Nigeria may have lost N150.46bn ($366.88m) since the Federal Government banned Twitter  operations on June 5.

A breakdown of the figures using Netblocks’ shut down tool indicates that it has cost Nigeria’s economy N102.77m ($250,600) every hour to ban Twitter.

More than 1,464 hours in terms of businesses losses have been recorded in Nigeria within the period.

But the Nigerian authorities appear to think nothing is comparable to the deal that they have cut.

National security concerns are more likely to be addressed. The Nigerian authorities which accused Twitter of engaging in acts of destabilization believe they have won a moral victory.

Twitter has agreed to establish a country office as part of the general agreement entered into by both sides. The Nigerians are projecting that work on the office complex would go on in 2022.

Economists are equally projecting that the office when operational, would lead to the creation of direct and indirect jobs and enable Nigeria to generate additional internal revenue through Twitter’s corporate presence.

Public administrators believe the arrangement would further provide a corridor that will strengthen the way Twitter interfaces with the Nigerian Government.

Some Nigerians such as Oby Ezekwesili,  Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and members of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly have defied the order of the Federal Government,  citing rights to freedom of expression.

Against the background of the understanding reached by the two sides, assessing twitter in a country that is viewed as the ‘Giant of Africa’ will be completely illegal soon.

“It would be legitimate and good for business. It will give a boost to the digital economy and also put a stop to the financial losses that Nigeria is apparently suffering on account of the Twitter ban”,  Telegraph’s Economic Correspondent reports.

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