Twitter users in Nigeria may soon have a real cause to smile as access to the social media platform has met the six conditions laid by the Federal Government. The Technical Committee headed by the Minister of Information and Culture — Alhaji Lai Mohammed was set up to resolve the impasse between the government and the micro-blogging social platform is fine-tuning the offers made and getting set to make a final recommendation to the President.
The President awaits the report of this technical committee in order to lift the ban on Twitter which was imposed in the year 2021. Reports say that the President has agreed in principle that operations of the social media platform be restored in Nigeria. However, indications have also shown that plans are in motion for the government to make amendments to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act to accommodate Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media platforms
Reports have also confirmed that Twitter has made provision for the compliance of all the terms laid down by the government to restore its services and operations to users in Nigeria. The 6 conditions laid down by the government and agreed upon by Twitter includes: Open an office in Nigeria, Have a country representative, Register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)/get National Broadcasting Commission’s licenses, Payment of fair taxes, Sensitive to national security and cohesion (the nation’s security must not undermine), finally to Train Nigerian IT personnel and strategic intelligence officers on how to report Twitter abuse /infractions noticed by the government.
According to a source who maintained confidentiality said that “From the records, Twitter has finally met six conditions set by the Federal Government for the lifting of the ban on its service in Nigeria as at the close of business in 2021.“ The source further revealed that “The operation of Twitter will now be fully regulated, including the opening of office and deployment of a Country Representative. We can now hold an officer responsible for any infraction.”
However, one of the conditions the social media platform didn’t immediately make provision for was the mandate to open an office in Nigeria. The source tells us that “Twitter only requested that the Federal Government should allow it to open the office in 2022 because there was no provision for it in its last year’s budget. Since we are in a new year, we are expecting that the office will take off soon. He also disclosed that a source of revenue has surfaced as a result of the ban, “With the payment of taxes, we are hopeful that the government will earn enhanced revenue from Twitter. This ban has helped to correct the lapses of the past. For instance, Twitter has been raking huge cash from Nigeria without legal backing and compliance with our revenue laws. The source also says “Although it was alleged that Nigerians have lost over N6billion to the ban the Federal Government has lost much more in revenue.
“In spite of recourse to VPN by some users in Nigeria, Twitter revenue slumped considerably because this alternative does not fetch income to it. Now, the era of impunity is gone. Twitter must register with CAC and operate in Nigeria as a business concern which it is in other parts of the world.”
Also disclosed is that the government and the social media platform has “reached consensus on how to manage posts likely to cause security breaches and those that can threaten Nigerian security. “The security matter was the last point of negotiation. The two parties agreed on how to report offensive/inflammatory posts or reports that undermine Nigerian security.” Another condition which the social media platform seem okay with is “Part of the agreement that borders on the need to train some Nigerian IT experts and intelligence officers on how to track report and relate instantly with Twitter to flag down such posts.”
When asked about the exact time when the ban will be lifted, the source added “The Technical Committee is looking into and fine-tuning offers from Twitter, making a final recommendation to the President to lift the ban. Some aspects have IT implications which the Technical Committee must study in the overall interest of the nation. Once the President gets the report of the committee, he will decide.”
From all stances, talks by the two parties have reached a conclusion but it is left to the government to make its final decision. However, all indications point to the fact that “Twitter will be licensed by the broadcasting commission, and must agree not to allow its platform to be used by those who are promoting activities that are inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
Recall in June 2021, Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed announced an indefinite suspension on the micro-blogging social site Twitter after the deletion of tweets considered as a violation of its rules by President Buhari. As a result ban, many Nigerians have turned and relied on Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers in order to navigate the platform.