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The impact of the Twitter ban on the Nigerian economy is examined in this article. The Nigerian government’s move to ban Twitter could have serious economic consequences. The reason for the restriction appears to be the social media companies’ decision to delete a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that was labeled as ‘abusive behavior’ by Twitter just a few days ago. Twitter is one of Nigeria’s most widely used social networking platforms.

Later, it was discovered that the Twitter ban infringes on people’s rights to freedom of speech, expression, and access to and sharing of information. It was also determined that the restriction had such a negative impact on the economy that it hampered the flow of information between business partners, resulting in employment losses, investor hostility, and business collapse. The government should rethink its decision and allow people access to Twitter, as it is one of the platforms through which people may make a living and also a way to boost the country’s economy.

The present Nigerian government has long been concerned about the country’s use of Twitter. The continuing local ENDSARS protest started on Twitter and gained traction in 2020, when it received 48 million tweets in ten days. Prior to banning Twitter, the present government discussed the concept of social media control on several times. Attempts to establish anti-social media legislation in the past have largely failed due to widespread public outcry on Twitter. Days before the ban, Nigeria’s communications minister deemed Twitter’s actions in the country dubious, noting its role in the ENDSARS protests.

The Nigerian government banned Twitter from operating in the country indefinitely on June 5, 2021, after the social media platform deleted tweets from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari warning the south eastern people of Nigeria, primarily Igbo people, of a potential repeat of the 1967 Biafra civil war due to the ongoing insurgency in the region. The removal of the president’s tweet was cited by the Nigerian government as a reason in their decision, but it was ultimately based on a long list of issues with the social media site in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news distributed through it have resulted in real-world violence.

Amnesty International, the British and Canadian embassies in Nigeria, and the Swedish embassy also criticised the ban. The Nigerian Bar Association and the Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have both stated that they will fight the ban in court. Nigeria’s cultural ministers are concerned about the ban, according to Twitter. The prohibition would be revoked if Twitter adheres to local licensing, registration, and requirements, according to Lai Muhammed. ‘It will be licensed by the Broadcasting Commission, and it must promise not to allow its platform to be utilized by individuals pushing activities that are detrimental to Nigeria’s business existence.

It was stated three days after the ban that the restriction had cost Nigeria about 6 billion naira and will contribute to the country’s rising jobless rate. The website traffic for Express VPN increased by almost 200 percent, while VPN searches increased across the country.

The United States and the European Union issued an united statement condemning the restriction. After a screenshot of a twitter deactivation message he uploaded on Facebook revealed a VPN logo, the country’s attorney general openly vowed to arrest individuals who circumvented the ban.

Twitter stated in late June 2021 that it will begin talks with the Nigerian authorities about the platform’s suspension. The talks began in July though no direct meeting has been reported as of July 15.

The prohibition on Twitter in Nigeria, in the opinion of the general public, has major repercussions for the people’s rights. The impact of the prohibition on various aspects of the economy is discussed in this section.

During public health and safety catastrophes like the COVID-19 pandemic, digital media such as Twitter are critical for information dissemination, marketing, customer service, and remote work. The halt in trade might hinder business, reduce productivity, and result in job losses (iyatse and adepelan, 2021).

The Nigerians in Diaspora Movement (NDM) stated that banning Twitter in Nigeria was insensitive, given that many Nigerians rely on the site for a living. NDM recalled that social media platforms such as Twitter have been shown to help individuals, particularly the youth, rise out of poverty by facilitating the acquisition and exchange of value-added ideas.

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According to Net Blocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cyber-security and internet governance, Nigeria lost 102.5 million naira every hour of social media gagging, increasing the daily loss to 2.5 billion naira. In three days, the economy would have lost over 7.5 billion naira.

The majority of information and communication technology (ICT) specialists condemned the government’s Twitter ban as a choice made without regard for the dynamism of technology. They claim that the decision could jeopardize the economic benefit that technology provides by steadily increasing the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (osuagwu, Nduihe Njoku et.al, 2021).

In an interview with AI Jazeera, Gbenga Sesan, executive director of the paradigm project, predicts that the prohibition would drive foreign investors out of Nigeria, and that major tech companies looking to invest in Africa will look to Ghana rather than Nigeria (iyorah, 2021).

According to reports, 39 million Nigerians have Twitter accounts; many utilize the platform for business and networking, and the capacity of this group of individuals to generate a decent life will be severely harmed as a result of the ban. Foreign investment in Nigeria’s technology sector will be affected as a result of this ( Sikhakhane, 2021).

Twitter, as a social media platform, is one of the most innovative technology innovations that has facilitated information exchange, marketing, and cooperation. It was recognised that millions of people in Nigeria, particularly the youth, relied on social media to join in debate, share information, and access it (Anyim, 2020). In fact, Nigeria’s constitution and international human rights law, as enshrined in the African Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, protect the right to free expression and access to information, and stipulate that any restriction on this right must be justified in a democratic society (Ewangi 2021).

The government’s decision to suspend Twitter, a leading microblogging platform, has taken its toll on Nigeria’s struggling economy, resulting in a loss of N7.5 billion in the last three days. Nigeria’s decision to suspend Twitter, initially indefinitely and then temporarily, could backfire and cost the country economically in terms of new investment in its technology sector. The restriction could jeopardize Nigeria’s position as one of the best-performing African countries when it comes to garnering investment for technological start-ups (Iyatse and Adepetun, 2021).

Aside from the financial loss, Bala Zaka, an investment specialist, believes the government should be more concerned about the signal that Twitter’s ban has given to international investment. He believes the government could have engaged Twitter diplomatically (Iyatse and Adepetun, 2021). Financial analysts believe that the move, which has brought the country into the spotlight around the world, will raise the country’s investment unfriendly image. In a same spirit, the US, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland issued an unified statement condemning Nigeria’s government for the restriction, warning that it would exacerbate the pandemic’s economic misery (Iyatse and Adepetun, 2021).

Twitter, on the other hand, is a worldwide digital communication and content platform that has the potential to diversify our economy and give our young a prosperous future. It is clear that the longer the ban lasts, the more money the Nigerian government will lose in tax revenue (Tenola, 2021). Twitter has created jobs for a large number of people as well as revenue for the government in the form of taxes, and if this revenue-generating route is stopped, the government will undoubtedly suffer a significant loss (Nwokoma, 2021).

For the most part, Influencers use Twitter as their primary commercial platform. Since the introduction of Twitter, the influencer marketing industry in Nigeria has expanded to the point that nearly anyone with a large following may land deals with companies trying to expand their reach. While companies who deal with influencers can readily use other platforms for marketing purposes, it may be more difficult for them to do so. Furthermore, while they may be able to purchase VPN services, their loyal customers may find it difficult or unwilling to do so (Nwokoma, 2021).

It was also discovered that Nigeria’s startup scene has grown rapidly in recent years, with $3,77.4 million raised in 2019, yet due to the coronavirus pandemic, that figure fell to $120.6 million in 2020. This has resulted in a large number of people finding work and the government receiving revenue in the form of taxes. All of those operations, however, are jeopardized by the Twitter prohibition. The majority of startups rely on social media in some capacity. Business would suffer if they didn’t have access to social media to launch marketing campaigns or create relationships with their customers. Applications that make use of Twitter APIs are also impacted. One of the issues that investors evaluate when making investment decisions is political stability. By banning Twitter and forcing the National Broadcasting Commission to begin licensing OTT services in Nigeria, investors are less likely to risk investing in Nigerian businesses, depriving the country of much-needed capital (Nwokoma, 2021).

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are critical to the growth of any economy, accounting for as much as 60-70 percent of total employment. SMEs in Nigeria account for 48 percent of national GDP, 96 percent of companies, and 84 percent of employment, with a population of over 117.4 million. Many SMEs have taken advantage of the Internet, particularly social media, for marketing and customer service purposes. This is evidenced by the large number of vendors on Twitter and Instagram. While these companies may relocate to other platforms, their postings may not receive as much attention as they do on Twitter (Nwokoma, 2021). In a summary, Hudley, Bishi, and Grossman (2021) determined that the banning of Twitter in Nigeria will have a significant economic impact because many Nigerians rely on Twitter to support their work. Employers, for example, can post job openings on the portal. It is used by freelancers to advertise and promote their services. Nigeria’s thriving start-up community, which boasts the highest number of start-ups in Africa, uses Twitter to recruit financing.

References

  1. ACNL (2021). Human rights implications of Nigeria’s Twitter Ban. Retrieved July 10, 2021 from https:www.icnl.orgpostanalysisthe-human-rights-implications-of-nigerias-twitter-ban.
  2. Adebayo, G. and Awonuga, G. (2021, June 6). Economy risks losing N2b to Twitter ban. Vanguard, 24 (15966), P. 2.
  3. Adegboruwa, E. O. (2021, June 10). Nigeria and Twitter. The Guardian, 37 (15505), P. 13.
  4. Adepetun, A., Aikulola, S., Nwokoro, S., Ugoeze, N. and Akpa, N. (2021, June 8).
  5. Adeboye, Kumuyi Defend Twitter Use as Envoys again Reject Ban. The Guardian, 37 (15,503), P. 1 & 2. African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) 2007.
  6. Aja, K. (2021). The economic burden of the Twitter Ban on Nigeria. Retrieved July 8, 2021 from https:nairametrics.com20210609the-economic-burden-of-the-twitter-ban-on-nigeria
  7. Anyim, W. O. (2020). Admissibility of Computer-Generated Evidence in Nigerian Court of Law: Implications for Law Libraries. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 4199. Retrieved July 12, 2021 from https:digitalcommons.unl.edulibphilprac4199
  8. Ewang, A. (2021). Nigeria’s Twitter ban follows patters of repression: Government should end restrictions on freedom of expression. Retrieved July 12, 2021, from https:www.hrw.orgnews20210607nigerias-twitter-ban-follows-pattern-repression
  9. Eze, M.; Taiwo, J.; Obi, O. O. and Nweje, C. (2021, June 3). FG Fumes as Twitter Pulls Down Buhari’s Civil War Tweet. Daily Sun, 17 (4723), P.6
  10. Fayose, P. A. (2021, June 3). FG Fumes as Twitter Pulls Down Buhari’s Civil War Tweet. Daily Sun,17 (4723), P.6.
  11. Hudley, L., Bishi, H. and Grossman, S. (2021). 3 things to know about Nigeria’s Twitter ban. Retrieved July 10, 2021 from https:www.washingtonpost.compolitics202106153- things-know-about-nigerias-twitter-ban

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