By Chido Nwakanma
The Federal Government led by Muhammadu Buhari took Nigeria back to 1984 on 4 June 2021 with the announcement of a ban on microblogging social media app Twitter.
It was déjà vu and back to the past. Nigeria has been working and walking to this end over the last four years.
Twitter’s offence was deleting a tweet that it considered offensive because it amounted to hate speech. Facebook has also joined Twitter to pronounce the post offensive. Will Nigeria also ban Facebook?
What does it really mean? It is best to appreciate the situation by looking at the statistics and impact of these platforms.
There were 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria in January 2021. Research by Hootsuite states that the number of internet users increased by 19 million (+22%) between 2020 and 2021. Internet penetration in Nigeria stood at 50.0% in January 2021.
There were 33.00 million social media users in Nigeria in January 2021, increasing by 6.0million or 22 per cent between 2020 and 2021. The number of social media users in Nigeria was equivalent to 15.8% of the total population in January 2021.
Twitter clocked sixth position on the ranking of social media platforms in Nigeria. WhatsApp is number one with a market share of 93 per cent followed by YouTube and Facebook. Facebook lists 29 million users in Nigeria.
Conversely, there are only 3.05 million Nigerians on Twitter. It ranks lower than Instagram (8.40 million), YouTube (30 million) and WhatsApp (90 million).
WhatsApp is the real deal in Nigeria. Banning Twitter is like winking at a girl in the dark. The government may think that it has done something, but Twitter would hardly notice nor would its users.
Nigerians should brace up for the planned ban on other social media platforms. It is aimed at the media. The upside is that repression of the media forced it to grow and made citizens more discerning.