A lot of Nigerians were surprised by the government’s ban on Twitter on Friday, June 4, 2021 by the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed.
However, I wasn’t surprised as it had already become a pattern. Since the End SARS protest that rocked the country in October 2020, we should have seen this coming. The minister decided to announce the ban after Twitter deleted one of the president’s tweet.
The minister had called the role of Twitter in Nigeria “suspect ” and also asked why some tweets by other people have not been taken down. Maybe the minister did not know how to go about it or the process in which a tweet can be taken down from Twitter.
This is probably why Twitter decided to move its headquarters to Ghana instead of Nigeria. One can only imagine what would have happened instead if the headquarters was located in Nigeria.
Even though many people have come out to condemn it, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar only tweeted “Hope this is not my last tweet. #smile”. Sweden through its Twitter handle has also condemned the ban while other allies have kept mum about the issue, which might indicate that many of them are in support in a way.
Inasmuch as social media is important to us and our voice, we need to start making inroads offline. People need to start speaking up and we need a channel, a network of activists, doctors, lawyers, travel agents, journalists etc to be able to make it work. We need not only to make noise but to make progress.
It is now beyond making a statement or taking back our country, it is about setting up a system that would last, a system that would respect the average Nigerian and uphold human rights. Now, it is social media, tomorrow it could be something else. Should we wait until they start knocking down our doors and taking food from our table? It is about being Nigerian, whatever that means to you.
So, I say to you, look into the eyes of your loved ones and see the hope of a better tomorrow, see the desire to live and just be free to speak their truth and be able to say “I got justice”. Hopefully, today is the day we wake up and know that we are more powerful than we think, that it is beyond just a one-day protest. After the protest, what next? If we decide for a new government, who will take the lead? Which system will check him? We need to start preparing for the bigger picture whether we like it or not, there will be another government and we must be ready to play a part in it.