Nigerians are now calling on social media giant Twitter to suspend the account of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is coming the same day after the Presidency stated President Buhari's Twitter account announcing the decision to suspend Twitter. Nigerians quickly reacted by promoting the hashtag calling on Twitter to immediately suspend the account of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is not clear at the moment who will get suspended first but the issues have generated much controversy among Nigerians.
It all started when President Buhari made a statement regarding the 30-month-old civil war. The statement was later shared as a tweet on his verified Twitter account sparking outrage from Nigerians who had complained about not hearing much from the president on national issues. Buhari issued a strong warning promising to deal with dissident Nigerians in the language that they will understand. Twitter deleted Buhari's tweet and that angered the presidency. A press conference was called and a hasty decision was reached to suspend Twitter.
Prominent Nigerians like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar subtly criticized Buhari's action by stating that he may as well be making his last tweet before it is formally suspended. The Buhari government needs no procedure to ban Twitter. All that they require is to direct the relevant regulatory bodies to block their Nigerian subscribers from using Twitter and it will be done. The administration of President Buhari had often kept grudges against Twitter for many reasons.
1. #EndSARS Protest
Twitter was a rallying point for protesters during the #EndSARS Protest in 2020. Protesters planned protests online during the lockdown and they shut down activities all over the country. Buhari's government felt bad that twitter failed to stop trending tweets about #Lekkimassacre from gaining ground even when it denies that there was no massacre. The issues drew the attention of glo9bal leaders especially the American government and this beamed searchlight on the Nigerian government and its activities.
Twitter was also blamed for not deleting tweets by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra. Left for the residency, Twitter should ban Nnamdi Kanu because his group had been pro9cribed as a terrorist organization.
3. Donald Trump Suspension
As odd as this may sound. Alhaji Lia Muhammed revealed that Twitter was unfair for suspending the account of former US President Donald Trump. Trump's account was suspended after he allegedly called for an insurrection against the inauguration of Joe Biden. The APC-led federal government has a soft spot for Donald Trump and feels bad about the Twitter decision. The Trump administration sold fighter jets to Nigeria and there were hopes that he'll have done more for Nigeria as US president. But Trump lost the election and suffered many media backlashes before his exit from the white house.
The presidency thinks that tweeter may be walking towards a change of government in Nigeria. This is politics and a social media company should not do this. The decision of the government to ban it is based on the fact that it is a threat to national security and the stability of the Buhari-led federal government. Social media has facilitated the activities of anti-government protests in many parts of the world like in Hongkong where democratic forces often protest against China's growing influence. There was a rumor that t defeats the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All-Progressives Congress hired online machinery to paint a bad image of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
5. Twitter's decision to locate its African headquarters in Ghana
Nigeria has the largest market for Twitter users in Africa. One may think that because of this the social media company will consider Nigeria in locating its African headquarters. But it did not. Rather it chose Ghana over Nigeria. This increased criticisms against the Nigerian government for its handling of the economy and security. It was now a time to get back at tweeter for not showing enough regard to the giant of Africa.
Many countries in Africa have banned social media and even the internet. Nigeria won't be the first but the APC-led federal government will go down in history as the first to ban social media over vested interest. The presidency is however yet to bring the national security threat to light as cited.