(Disclaimer: Loaded with satire)
Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Cuts Off 40 Million Users
It’s no longer news that the clueless overlords in Nigeria banned Twitter last week for having the temerity and effrontery to ‘delete’ a tweet from their ‘leader’ Pres. Muhammed Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (POFRON). The gist is that Nigerian government suspended Twitter on June 4. The official press release gave only a vague justification, citing threats to “Nigeria’s corporate existence.” What is news, however, is President Trump’s allege reaction to the unfortunate accident of history.
The Nigerian government seems to love being in the news for all the wrong reasons but I grabbed my popcorn ever since someone muted the idea of Twitter being banned in Nigeria over such a minor issue. I thought it was a bad dream.
To be clear, I do not support the thoughtless, knee-jerk and embarrassing reaction of the government of Nigeria to ban Twitter and as such subject Nigerian citizens to untold global embarrassment. I have quietly followed the development and watched both the supporters of the ban and those who opposed it. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, however there has to be a limit to such folly.
Opportunity Cost of the Twitter Ban
Marco Gordon, a contributor on Tech Crunch wrote:
“NetBlocks, a global internet monitor, says Nigeria is losing about $250,000 (£176,000) each *hour* the ban is in place and analysts say this ban may further weaken the economy and increase the already high unemployment levels for young people. . .”
A 2020 survey by the independent, Africa-based research organization Afrobarometer found that:
- 35% of Nigerians reported using some social media service to get news at least a few times a week.
- Men were marginally more likely to use it than women — 39% versus 31%.
- More young people used it — 46% of 18–25 years old, versus 8% for those over 65.
- Rates of weekly access were higher for Nigerians who lived in urban areas (54%, versus 18% for rural), had at least a secondary-level education (57%, versus 12% with a primary education or lower) and had the lowest levels of lived poverty (51%, versus 25% for those with the highest levels).
Nevertheless, Nigerians more broadly are unlikely to take the ban quietly. Afrobarometer research also shows that Nigerians, like most Africans, oppose government restrictions on media generally. Those surveyed were roundly opposed to restrictions on digital media. More than three-fifths (61%) said that internet and social media should be “unrestricted” versus only 23% who agreed that “access should be regulated by the government”.
So, let’s get back to the crux of the matter, why would anyone be happy or support Twitter being banned in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country?
Here are a few reasons I think the ban might actually turn out to be a good thing:
1. Explosive growth of VPNs in Nigeria
As expected, there is a widespread use of VPNs in Nigeria at the moment. That would come at significant costs. Poor Nigerians are likely turn to free VPNs instead of fee-based ones that are more secure. This will expose them to data theft and other forms of hacking. Nothing is free; even in Freetown. Be careful guys!
Where are my Ibo brothers (‘tech’ entrepreneurs) when you need them? I believe this sad development might make produce a VPN billionaire. Imagine selling VPN to 40 million Nigerians, at a reasonable fee, on a monthly basis?
2. Opportunity for rival micro blogging sites to access Africa’s largest market
In every crisis, there exist an opportunity. A report says Indian micro-blogging social media company Koo is planning to expand its footprint in Nigeria. The company co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna hinted about the move from his Twitter handle.
A Prediction. . .
Twitter ban will be overturned eventually however, the question remains: who will be the winners and/or losers? And who would blink first: Nigerian government or the 40m active Nigerians on Twitter whose fundamental human rights have been affected by the ban?
One final word:
This is nothing but a dumb egoistic trip by the Nigerian political elites. I hope they wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late.