The decision by the Nigerian government to ban social media giants – Twitter from their cyberspace is another sad reminder of how high-handed, selfish, insensitive and authoritarian the Nigerian government is.
At a time, the country is plagued with countless crisis including the unmitigated upsurge of terrorist activities and its increasing ubiquitous nature, the lame Nigerian government has deemed it fit to ban citizens from using social media platform – Twitter, because their number one citizen can’t seem to press the button right to adhere to simple rules of communication.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (Nigeria’s lead organisation of legal practitioners) – Olumide Akpata has already condemned the hasty measure, describing it as illegal and uncalled for. Renowned nobel laureate Wole Soyinka also termed the move by the Nigerian government as an attack on citizens’ freedom of expression urging Nigerians to circumvent the ban and access the twitter platform.
Millions of Nigerians are distraught by this sad development as the government measure took effect midnight upon the decision to suspend Twitter operations in the country. Nigerians took to Facebook the alternative social media platform to air their frustration about their government. However, with Facebook’s decision to rightly delete Buhari’s inflammatory remarks, the social media giants may also face similar punishment meted out by the Nigerian government on Twitter which would invariably leave millions of Nigerians completely shutout from social media interaction.
It will be recalled that the incumbent Nigerian government rode to power courtesy of the awareness on social media platforms including the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ movement and hashtag. The decision of the Nigerian government and actions ever since assumption of duty therefore comes as an irony and rude shock.
Freedom of speech in Nigeria has never been this attacked since the days of military rule. General Buhari was known to have implemented a martial law on citizens, locking up many journalists during his days as a military dictator in 1984. Many citizens fear that such days may have returned.
The country’s leading tabloid – Punch Newspaper now address the President by his military title, “Major General”, because of his seeming lack of democratic disposition despite supposedly being elected in a democracy.
It is wrong for any President to punish millions of its citizens and deny them the freedom of expression on a platform simply because of personal squabbles.
The Nigerian government must understand that it lacks the locus standi to impose a unilateral ban on a platform used by millions of others simply because Mr. Buhari’s comments were rightly censored and deleted for glorifying genocide.
The international community must call the Nigerian government to order to refrain from this unnecessary attempt to stifle the press and silence critics.