Nigeria loses N217.71 billion as ban on Twitter hits 100 days

ban on twitter in nigeria
Twitter logo displayed on a phone screen in Tehatta, Nadia, West Bengal, India on June 16, 2020. Twitter is launching two new features: The ability to save a tweet as a draft, as well as the ability to schedule a tweet to send at a specific time. (Photo Illustation by Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nigeria has lost an estimated N217.71 billion (about $6million) in 100 days that the microblogging platform, Twitter, remains banned in the country, according to Netblocks, an online tool for estimating shutdown cost.

The Nigerian government had banned Twitter from its online space on June 4, 2021, after the social media platform deleted a tweet by the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

The platform has remained banned till date and clocked 100 days on it today.

NetBlocks.org estimates that the blockade costs Nigeria’s economy about N2.17Bn every day, amounting to about N217,708,905,056 in the 100 days that Twitter has remained blocked in the west African nation.

What Led to the Ban of Twitter in Nigeria

ban on twitter in nigeria
A man looks at newspapers at a newsstand in Abuja, Nigeria June 5, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

On the June 5, the Nigerian president made a tweet threatening the south eastern people (majorly the Igbo speaking tribes) of Nigeria of a likely repeat of the similar government offensives to the 1967 civil war over secessionist and militant activities in the region led by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

The Tweet was widely reported as hate speech by citizens leading to Twitter deleting the president’s tweet.

Reacting to Twitter’s action, the Nigerian government ordered a ban a the website in the country.

Following the government’s order, Nigerian telcos on June 5 blocked access to Twitter after receiving a directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s regulating agency for its telecommunications sector.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) carried out the order.

“We, The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.” A statement by ALTON read.

“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the directive in accordance with internationally accepted principles.” The statement further stated.

Reactions to the Ban

twitter ban in nigeria
Citizen protest Twitter ban in Nigeria

Following the ban on Twitter, citizens took to the social media and the streets to protest the ban, calling the government’s actions tyrannical.

Amnesty International also condemned the ban on Twitter. Civil society organizations as well as the embassies of Britain and Canada and the Sweden in Nigeria also condemned the ban.

Despite the condemnations of the ban, Twitter remained ban in the country.

Trump Praised Buhari over Twitter Ban

Trump supports twitter ban in nigeria
Trump supports twitter ban in Nigeria

Reacting to Twitter ban in Nigeria, former US president Donald Trump praised the Nigerian government for taking decisive actions against Twitter.

“More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech — all voices should be heard. In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil? Perhaps I should have done it while I was President. But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was. 2024?” Trump said.

Recall that Trump was also banned by the platform and his account @realDonaldTrump suspended.

Twitter Meets With Nigerian Government

In June, Twitter began talks with the Nigerian government towards unbanning the platform in the country.

Subsequently, Nigerian government announced it has reached an agreement with Twitter and that the social media giant may open an office in Nigeria and also pay taxes to the Nigerian government.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lal Mohammed, while fielding questions from the press at the State House after Wednesday’s FEC meeting updated Nigerians on the issue saying that progress has been made in resolving the stalemate following series of meetings.

Mohammed explained details of the conditions given to Twitter, saying that most of them have been accepted.He said the areas still pending such as Twitter setting up an office, and having a Twitter staff of management cadre that will serve as the country representative, are still being discussed.

The Minister also disclosed that on the issue of a Nigeria-based office, even though Twitter has agreed to the condition, it is however maintaining that the earliest it can establish that is 2022.

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