With billions of naira reportedly lost by businesses within days of the suspension slammed on the operations of Twitter by the Nigerian government, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called for the resolution of the impasse within the next two days.
Sanwo-Olu spoke on Monday on Arise TV early morning show, monitored in Lagos, saying businesses are already hurting and people losing monies as a consequence of the Federal Government’s face-off with the microblogging and social networking service provider.
Sanwo-Olu, who noted that his administration has so far invested millions of naira to encourage the growth of the information technology industry in Lagos with the youths as major beneficiaries said there was a need to rethink the suspension.
“Last week I was on a fact-finding tour to some of our technology hubs to encourage our players where we pledged to support them. We have research grants to support the sector which are in N20 million, N10 million, N5 million, and we did over N250 million last year. In terms of interventions, we are supporting them. We are building the biggest Information Communication Technology (ICT), hub in Nigeria to be sited in Lagos.
On the Twitter ban, I can’t sit here and flay the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, who is having all the prognosis of the security I don’t have. I can’t begin to say what he has done is right or wrong.
However, on both sides there are issues that can be resolved by Twitter and our government. The action is not a ban but a suspension as they said. In view of this let us all sit down and a have a conversation.
If Twitter had to take his investment to a country with 5 million subscribers and not Nigeria with 40 million subscribers, this speaks to the reason why we also need to have that conversation. In other climes they sign underlining agreement before operations on the rules of engagement, I’m not sure if we have that here.
Having said that, I think that the Federal Government can handle this a lot better; a lot of e-commerce, a lot of youths doing digital stuff on the internet: we cannot throw all these away and pretend nothing is happening. I believe there could be a lot of restraints and better management from both sides.
And what I’m pleading is within the next two days let’s see that happen, let us come together and resolve it amicably, Lagos is hurting, our youths are hurting, Nigeria is hurting and we need to understand that. What are the issues in getting this behind us so that we don’t politicise it, people are losing monies, businesses and economies are being destroyed.
There are also the security issues, let us be circumspect, don’t let us throw the baby with the bathwater. And I’m ready to speak to it if I’m called upon to give quality advice on what I feel should be done,” said Sanw-Olu.
President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government on Friday, June 4, announced the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.
Twitter had deleted a tweet by Buhari in which the president made reference to the Nigerian 1967 civil and threatened to treat people in “the language they understand”
Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, subsequently in a statement by his special assistant on media, Segun Adeyemi, announced Twitter’s suspension in the country.
Mohammed’s announcement was followed up by a directive by the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, to the director of public prosecution to begin immediate prosecution of Nigerians still using Twitter in violation of the government’s order.
This has also been followed up by a directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to all TV and radio stations to immediately uninstall their Twitter handles. While some segments of the Nigerian society have applauded the government’s position and knocked Twitter for meddling in Nigeria’s affair, others have roundly condemned it, describing the government’s action as an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to freedom of speech which is guaranteed in the 1999 constitution.