PMB and Twitter Ban

The recent suspension of the micro-blogging application, Twitter, by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has once again brought to the fore the need to look into what constitutes freedom of expression and what should be the limitation while expressing oneself. There have been arguments and counter-arguments on the decision of the government to suspend the application from being used by people residing in Nigeria. For those in support of the suspension, they hinged their arguments on the alleged double-standard by the administrators of the application.

PMB and Twitter Ban

They could not understand the reason the tweet of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, was deleted while that of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) could stay! For those against the suspension, they argued that the ban infringes on their fundamental freedom of expression, especially in a democracy. In fact, they are surprised with the speed through which the suspension was effected considering that this administration is known for being slow when it comes to making important decisions. To make matters worse, Abubakar Malami (Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation) was reported to have vow to prosecute whosoever use the application in Nigeria while the suspension lasted. Shall we remind Malami that there was a certain Michael Aondoakaa before him?

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The rate at which fake news is being spread via the media, especially the new media, should be of concern for those who do not want Nigeria to go the way of Rwanda in the 90’s. Just few weeks ago, there were contradictory reports on the cause of death of former NECO Registrar, Godswill Obioma. While the first news reported that he was assassinated, another news came in and reported that the deceased had heart attack. One could only imagine the level of destruction that would have gone up based on the first report, especially when the state of our polity is factored in!

There is hardly a day that fake news won’t go viral on various media, especially the new media. How do we ensure that this is nipped in the bud before it leads to unrest? For reasons such as this, there is no doubt that the media needs to be properly monitored, at least to be sure that fake news do not fly around. If the National Broadcasting Commission has not gone the way of National Orientation Agency, we will not be discussing the continuous spread of fake news, especially in the traditional media. Maybe it is high time the federal government dusted Oronsaye Committee report and made agencies like NBC a history in our nation! An agency that failed in her responsibility won’t be missed, when scrapped.

As much as one support the need to regulate what goes out through the media, the circumstances that led to the suspension and the speed at which it was effected cause for concern. Petty would be an understatement, if the main reason for suspending the application was because the tweet of the president was deleted! To make matters worse, the Attorney General of the Federation goes further that anybody that uses the application would be prosecuted. Are we back in the dark days of military rule? Even during the days of the dark-goggled Sani Abacha, his Attorney General, Olu Onagoruwa stood when it mattered most. How we have gone to a situation as this, that a certain Abubakar Malami would be the AGF seems beyond comprehension.

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Did Lai Mohammed, Abubakar Malami and those advisers that effected the ban consider its implication, especially on our economy? Do they realize that Twitter, just like most of the new media applications, are useful beyond exchanging messages? Do they know that young Nigerians generate income through the application? Have they considered the number of young Nigerians that have been thrown to the labour market due to this decision? How would they compensate those innocent Nigerians that are earning legitimately via the micro-blogging application, whose source of income has been affected by this irrational decision? Did Lai Muhammed and others realize that this same application was instrumental to the emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 general election? It is high time they stopped taking Nigerians for a ride, as when we reach the breaking point, we will fight back.

The two parties involved in this unnecessary imbroglio should come to a round-table discussion and agree on the way forward, at least, for the sake of those Nigerians earning legitimately through the usage of the application: whose earnings have been affected by the suspension.

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