Election Monitoring Group better known as Yiaga Africa, says the indefinite suspension of Twitter services by the Nigerian government can scare global investors especially technology companies from considering the nation as a destination for investment.
On Friday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had announced the suspension of Twitter following the decision of the social media giant to delete a tweet by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to the development in a statement signed by Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, demanded for the reversal of the suspension on tweeter, stressing that “the ill-thought-out policy directive on licensing of over-the-top (OTT) platforms send a dangerous signal to the world that Nigeria is not open for investments, particularly in the technology and entertainment sector”.
She described the suspension of Twitter as antithetical to democratic principles and it portends great threat to the freedom of speech and expression.
According to her, “Twitter, as well as other social media platforms, have emerged as a veritable tool for fostering direct and deliberative democracy by providing a space for citizens to express their opinions, ask difficult questions and demand accountability from their leaders. Interestingly, the Nigerian government also employs the Twitter platform to engage with citizens on public policy matters.
“This decision coupled with the ill-thought-out policy directive on licensing of over-the-top (OTT) platforms sends a dangerous signal to the world that Nigeria is not open for investments, particularly in the technology and entertainment sector. These two sectors have experienced steady growth in recent years and created value through job creation for young people and sustained exports from Nigeria.
“It is our considered opinion that the suspension of twitter affirms the shrinking civic space in Nigeria. Democracy cannot thrive in an oppressed civic space where the government opposes any form of dissent or opposition and shuts down easy and accessible channels of communication at will.
“To this end, we call on the Federal Government to reverse this decision immediately, and to refrain from further assault on press freedom, freedom of expression and free speech. Yiaga Africa urges other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc to continue to uphold their commitment to sanitizing the digital ecosystem by eliminating all forms of hate and harmful content on their platforms regardless of the status of the individuals or groups utilising their platforms to propagate hate speech and misinformation.
While expressing concern that the action of the government is coming at a time when nations around the world are building mutually constructive relationships with citizens through diverse channels of communication, Yiaga Africa, wonder why the Nigerian government should be imposing a ban on a platform where citizens engage in public conversation, public policy scrutiny, and civic engagement.