Pelumi Olajengbesi, a human rights lawyer, says there is nothing to rejoice over on the lifting of the Twitter ban placed by the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
According to the lawyer, Twitter is beyond a social media platform but a money-making avenue for Nigerian youths who eke a living through content creating and sharing on the platform.
“Local digital communications firms and ingenuous Nigerian youths earn a living from the use of Twitter to post communications on behalf of their clients. Others who may not afford physical stores also rely on Twitter to give visibility to their products and services,” Mr Olajengbesi said in a statement on Thursday, January 12, 2022 just as the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) announced that it had lifted the suspension on Twitter.
“But hundreds of youths lost this means of livelihood to the unjustifiable suspension of Twitter by the Federal Government in the last seven months.”
The Buhari regime had suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria on June 4, 2021, after the micro-blogging platform deleted a controversial civil war post by the President. Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had said the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
According to the NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool, Nigeria’s economy lost N104.02m ($250,600) every hour to the ban on Twitter as of December 2021.
Olajengbesi, who is the managing partner of Law Corridor in Abuja, therefore said, “The Federal Government should pay Nigerian youths and business owners who lost means of livelihood due to the seven-month suspension of Twitter in the country.
“The wastage is needless and the decision of the government is totally counterproductive. With Nigeria’s unemployment rate almost hitting 40 per cent, a government that cannot provide jobs for millions of employable youths yet cut off their means of livelihood is far from working in the interest of the citizens.
“The Buhari government must learn how to live with Nigerians and not adopt punitive measures as a tool of vengeance to inflict pain on Nigerians and violate the fundamental human rights of citizens.”
Nigeria had about 33 million active social media users as of January 2021. WhatsApp is the most popular platform used in the country, with over 90 million users according to Statista. About 61.4 per cent of Nigerian social media users use Twitter, 86.2 per cent use Facebook, 81.6 per cent use YouTube, 73.1 per cent use Instagram, and 67.2 per cent use Facebook Messenger.