Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani – Why Twitter Got it Wrong in Nigeria

Twitter is Popular in Nigeria with Protest Groups, Not by Governement that Forbid the Company to Operate on Its Soil after Banning The Prseident’s Account for Inciting Violence (foto BBC)

Pray for Nigeria (foto Twitter)

BBC World Wide Nigeria Protest (foto Twitter)

#EndSARS (foto Twitter)

I can not Bear to See This Torture and Brutasization #ENDSARS (foto Twitter)

Blood Shedding for Nigeria (foto Twitter)

Nigeria (foto Twitter)

We Will Not Forget 20 | 10 | 2020 (foto Twitter)

Why Twitter Got it Wrong in Nigeria

In Our Series of Letters from African Writers, Nigerian Journalist and Novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani Considers Twitter’s Power and the Nigerian Government’s Moves to Curb it.

It has Been Two Months since the Nigerian Government Banned Twitter after the Tech Giant deleted a Post by President Muhammadu Buhari for Violating its Rules on Abusive Language.

Despite the Global Outrage that Followed, Including Strong Words of Condemnation from Top Foreign Diplomats in the Country.  he Government Remained Adamant.

However, it Announced on Wednesday that it was Finalising an Agreement with Twitter and the Ban would be Lifted in a Few Days or Weeks.

We Go Again A Good to #EndSARS (foto Twitter)
DJ Switch Arrested (foto Twitter)
DJ Switch Fist Raised (foto Twitter)

A man carries a banner during a demonstration at Ojota in Lagos on June 12, 2021, as Nigerian activists called for nationwide protests over what they criticise as bad governance and insecurity, as well as the recent ban of US social media platform Twitter by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Many Nigerians were Angered by the Twitter Ban )foto AFP)

Smoking (foto Twitter)

Much of the Comment that Followed at the Time Focused on the Ban’s Negative Impact on Freedom of Speech and the Economy.

Many Nigerians use the Plalform to Amplify their Grievances Against the Government and to Reach More Vustomers for Their Businesses.

But Twitter’s Decision to Delete President Buhari’s Post – in which he Threatened Violence against a Separatist Movement – was ill Advised. This has also Become a Point of Debate in other Parts of the World, including India.

100% Certain Nigerian Army will Raid Reddington Hospital to Round Uo Survivors (foto Twitter)

Call from Abuja, Tomorrow Planned to Be Worse, Live First! (foto Twitter)
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria (foto Twitter)
Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari of India in Nigeria Vsiting President Buhari and Vice Preiodent Osirinbajo (on the Right) (foto Twitte

Bola Tinubu, Nigerian Opposition Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Not Insupportive of Government PollciIntensive Care (foto Twitter)es (foto Twitter)

Parts of Lekki, Oniru and Victoria No Power (foto Twitter)

Soldiers Open Fire On Lagos Protesters (foto Twitter)

Soldiers Open Fire On Lagos Protesters (foto Twitter)

Shooting at #EndSARS Protest Lekkion BBC (foto Twitter)

Today is My Last (foto Twitter)

Live at Lekki Toll Gate (foto Twitter)

Nigerian Youths Died Lekki Toll Gate 20th Okrober 2020 (foto Twitter)

Shot in the Face (foto Twitter)

She Died Tonight in the Shoot Out (foto Twitter)

NIGERIA BLEEDS | We Will Never Forget (foto Twitter)

Last Hospitals Taking In Victims from Lekki Massacre (foto Twitter)

Shot at Protest (foto Twitter

Shooter (foto Twitter)

This is the Alleged Colonel that lead the Shooting of Peacefull Nigerians (foto Twitter)

Nigerian Lives Matter #EndSars (foto Twitter)
Lekki Massacre Center (foto Twitter)

Hospital Protest (foto Twitter)

Peacefull Protesters, You Will Not Die,You Will Live (foto Twitter)

What Government has Done to My Sister (foto Twitter)

Intensive Care (foto Twitter)

Protester (1) (foto Twitter)

Protester (2) (foto Twitter)

Lekki Aftermath (foto Twitter)

Victim of Government Violence (foto Twitter)

Hospital Corridor (foto Twitter)

The US Owned, Private Firm appeared to be Interfering in the Internal Affairs of a Sovereign African State Without Enough Background Knowledge to Understand the Consequences of its Actions.

Neo Colonialism

At the Time, Twitter said the Post was in Violation of its Rules.

The Company has the Right to Enforce Its Regulations, but Mr Buhari’s Post was an Official Communication from the Nigerian President to his People, Tweeted from a Government Account.

The Same Message was also Broadcast on Other Media Platforms Across the Country.

Is it Right that a Private American Firm has the Power to Edit, Without Permission, the Official Communication of a Democratically Elected President of an African Country? It doesn’t get any More Neo Colonial than that.

Please Start Sending Pictures of Nigerian Military Shooting Protesters (foto Twitter)

Tears for Nigeria (foto Twitter)

Holding the Blood Stained Nigerian Flag (foto Twitter)

Proof of Srmy Bullets Shot at Protesters (foto Nigeria)

Blood for Nigeria (foto Twitter)
Pointing the Finger (foto Twitter)

President Muhammadu Buhari, (foto Twitter)

Leading opposition presidential candidate in forthcoming April polls and flag bearer of Congress for Progressive Change, retired General Muhammadu Buhari raises his hand to salute the crowd shortly on arrival to flag off his presidential campaign rally in Kaduna Wednesday, on March 2, 2011

President Muhammadu Buhari, 78, has Been In Office since 2015 (foto AFP)

Hillary Clinton and the Nigerian President (foto Twitter)

Clinton calls on @nbuhari (foto Twitter)

 

Hillary Clinton Tweet to @mbuhari (foto Twitter)

Nigerians have the Right to be Aware of their Leader’s Plans and Strategies, iIrespective of how Reckless his Choice of Words might be. They have a Right to Know even if he is Planning Something as Heartless as Unleashing Violence on Them.

Similarly, Nigerians have the Right to Respond to Him as Part of the Interaction between the Government and its Citizens.

Mr Buhari’s Tweet Treatened Violence against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) Movement, which is Seeking a Breakaway State in South Eastern Nigeria, Home to the Igbo People.

IPoB was Outlawed in 2017 – the Group Fought the Ban in Court and Lost.

Amplifying Divisions

While Many Igbo’s Believe they have been Marginalised in Many Ways, such as Being Left Out of Key National Leadership Positions, the Majority Do Not Support Ipob’s Desire for Secession.

Neither do they like its Violent Rhetoric against Other Ethnic Groups – often Referred to as Wild Animals by IPoB Leader Nnamdi Kanu, who is Facing Treason Charges.

In February, Facebook Deactivated Mr Kanu’s Account for its Hate Speech, but he Remained Active on Twitter.

By Deleting Mr Buhari’s Threats, Twitter wIs inadvertently Taking Sides with IPoB, and the Group’s Supporters Wasted no Time in Celebrating this Assumed Show of Solidarity.

Following the Backlash from the Government in June, a Few of the IPoB Leader’s Tweets were Removed by Twitter.

Children of the Poor (foto Twitter)
Pro-Biafra supporters shout slogans in Aba, south-eastern Nigeria, during a protest calling for the release of a key activist on November 18, 2015
SomeMmembers of Nigeria’s Minority Igbo Ethnic Group have Waged a Long Running Campaign for Secession (foto AFP)

Similarly Thoughtless Involvement by Twitter Amplified the Divisions that Derailed Nigeria’s #EndSars Movement that Oversaw Protests against Police Brutality in October 2020.

Different Groups were Involved in Planning and Fundraising for the Protests that began Online and Poured into the Streets of Cities across Nigeria for about Two Weeks.

But when Twitter Verified the Account of One Group and Not of Others, it led to Bitter Mud Slinging and the Withdrawal of some Groups from the Movement.

Twitter had inadvertently Selected the Leaders of Nigeria’s Social Movement against Police Brutality and Effectively Escalated the Rivalry that had Already Fractured the Movement,” wrote Nigerian Journalist Ohimai Amaize.

Attempt to Stifle Criticism

The Tech Giant Trod where even Seasoned Foreign Diplomats and Global Bodies Fear to Go.

Many Well Meaning Outsiders have Learned Never to be Too Quick to Meddle in the Affairs of African Countries, like Nigeria, where Issues are Often More Complicated Than Meets The Eye. They are Increasingly Embracing the Trend of Deferring Responsibility to Local Organisations that Better Understand Local Dynamics.

Twitter’s Decision to Set Up a West Africa Headquarters in Ghana is a Good Step in Developing Cultural Competence.

Mr Babajide Sanwo Olu, Governor, Lagos State (foto Twitter)

Help Me (foto Twitter)

Implement Sanctions Againnst the Nigerian Governement and Officials (foto Twitter)

Nigerian Banker and Politicia Senator of Lagos East Senatorial District Tokunbo Abiru (foto Twitter)

Shocked by the Destrucrion of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (foto Twitter)

Adaobi

Nigerian Novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani “If it was Authoritarian To Ban Twitter, it was Even More Problematic for an American in Silicon Valley to Poke their Finger in the Affairs of a Sovereign State.” (foto BBC)

The Nigerian Government’s Conditions for Lifting the Ban Include that Twitter Must Register its Business in Nigeria and have a Staff Presence in the Country.

Mr Buhari’s Administration has Shown Little Respect for the Rule of Law and Freedom of Speech, with a Number of Journalists and Activists Locked Up Simply for Criticising the Government.

Banning Twitter Completely is a Barely Concealed Attempt by the Government to stifle Voices of Criticism, and Nigerians have Good Reason to be Worried.

But the Power of Big Tech to make Arbitrary Decisions about who gets to say What, When and How, is Equally Troubling.

It raises Questions about Policing Speech and Censoring Unpopular Voices, amid the Need for Open Public Debate in a Free Democratic Society.

If it was Authoritarian for the Nigerian Government to Ban the Use of Twitter, It was Even Nore Problematic for an American Swivelling in a Chair in Silicon Valley to Poke their Finger into the Internal Affairs of a Sovereign African State.

More Letters from Africa
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Nairobi | the Centre of East Africa’s thriving Arts Scene
The True Cost of Kenya’s Political Love Triangle
Drugs, Dates and Disputes at Mules’ Border Crossing

BBC News,

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-58175708

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