Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says the Federal Government can handle the Twitter imbroglio better, adding that the government can sign ‘rules of engagement’ with the San Francisco-based social media giant on Twitter usage in Nigeria.
He stated this on Monday while featuring on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ programme.
According to him, “People are losing money but there are also security issues. Let us be circumspect and not throw the baby away with the bathwater.”
Last week, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”. The Federal Government’s action followed a deletion of a controversial civil war post by the President.
The Buhari administration has since come under fire for what many termed as a restriction of the right of expression. The international community including the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, amongst others have since knocked the Buhari administration for the action but the Federal Government has been unyielding in its stance insisting that the sovereignty of the West African nation must be respected by the San Francisco tech giant.
Speaking on the development on Monday, Sanwo-Olu said, “Regarding the specifics around Twitter, I cannot sit down here with all of the responsibilities that I have and fly (sic) the commander in chief of the armed forces. He would have the prognosis and security information that I do not have. I cannot begin to say that was he’s done is right or wrong.
“What I see is that on both sides, there are issues that can be resolved between Twitter and the (Federal) Government and I think what they’ve done is not a ban but a suspension. So, in the period of suspension, let us sit down…we need to have that conversation with them (Twitter).
“In other climes, they sign some underlying agreements on the rules of engagement. I am not sure that is happening here. Having said that, the Federal Government can also handle things a lot better because of the number of e-commerce, because of the number of youths that are doing a lot of things on the internet and we cannot throw that away.
“I believe there could be better restrain and management from both sides. In the next one or two days, let us see that happen. Lagos is hurting, our youths are hurting, Nigeria is hurting, let us understand the issues and put it behind us so that we don’t politicise it.”
Though mobile operators have blocked their customers in the country from using Twitter, many Nigerians have switched to the use of Virtual Private Networks to bypass the blockage.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had also ordered the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation to prosecute offenders contravening the government’s Twitter ban.
Nigeria, with over 200 million people, had about 33 million active social media users as of January 2021. WhatsApp is the most popular platform used in the country, with over 90 million users according to Statista. Also according to Statista, about 61.4 per cent of Nigerian social media users use Twitter, 86.2 per cent use Facebook, 81.6 per cent use YouTube, 73.1 per cent use Instagram, and 67.2 per cent use Facebook Messenger.