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Twitter ban enters third month amid economic, mental health effects on youths

The Federal Government of Nigeria banned Twitter on June 4, 2021, ordering all internet service providers to suspend access.

The sanction was a response to the deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet.

Buhari said perpetrators of carnage in the South-East region did not witness the loss of lives during the civil war.

“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” he had written.

Thousands of users reported the tweet, forcing Twitter to take action. The microblogging site explained that it violated its rules. Consequently, the Nigerian government announced the suspension of the platform.

With Nigerians locked out, many opted for Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access the platform.

But the authorities warned that those who continued to tweet will be prosecuted. This threat was later withdrawn.

Citizens have not stopped condemning the sanction, accusing the President of taking the removal of his tweet personal.

The international community and rights organisations view the Twitter ban as an act against media freedom and access to information.

On the other hand, the embargo has taken a toll on the major users of social media, the young demographic.

Analysts are worried about the economic and mental health impacts. One of them, Reuben Abati, Arise TV host and former presidential image-maker protested publicly.

“Though there are others platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok, some youths are used to Twitter.

“Who will measure the effect of the ban on their mental health? Who will make up for the money legitimate business owners have lost?”, he quipped.

With an unemployment rate of 33 percent, Nigerians are left to fend for themselves in a country where social welfare is practically non-existent.

The billions of Naira officials claim have been expended to help urban and (mostly) rural dwellers cope with COVID effects have not been thoroughly accounted for.

And while a larger number of the people remain law-abiding and try to make a living through trading, the government hammer on Twitter has affected their income.

Meanwhile, a school of thought posits that Twitter’s erasure of Buhari’s tweet was not the only reason for authorities’ retaliation.

It appeared Information Minister, Lai Mohammed confirmed this when he accused Twitter of funding an uprising against the state during EndSARS.

Last Wednesday, the United States of America insisted social media restrictions in Nigeria weakens the rights of the people.

One week later, Mohammed announced that the stoppage of Twitter would be lifted in a matter of days.

The spokesman gave the hint in Abuja after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

Mohammed said part of the deal being negotiated was for the company to have a country representative and set up an office in Nigeria.

“From our discussion with Twitter, the setting up of their Nigerian office can be effected in 2022”, he disclosed.

The minister added that the government team will meet the American company soon for a final agreement.

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