AT least five Nigerian state governors are still using Twitter in defiance of the federal government’s ban on the use of the social media platform across the country in response to its decision to delete a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last week, the federal government announced an indefinite suspension of Twitter’s activities in Nigeria following a row during which the social media platform deleted a tweet from President Buhari. He had threatened secessionists in the southeast geo-political zone with war in response to their agitation for an independent state, which Twitter said contravened its rules.
Despite the ban, many prominent Nigerians continue to use Twitter despite the government threat to prosecute anyone caught doing so. It has emerged that among those using virtual private networks (VPN) to access Twitter include governors Seyi Makinde, Nasir El-Rufai, Samuel Ortom, Godwin Obaseki and Rotimi Akeredolu of Oyo, Kaduna, Benue, Edo and Ondo states respectively.
Last Friday, the government said it objected to the persistent use of the Twitter platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence. It then went ahead and banned the site, with attorney-general Abubakar Malami, ordering the prosecution of violators of the ban.
Nigerians had immediately opted for VPN platforms in a bid to access Twitter, daring the police to arrest them and prosecute them. VPN, a key path for digital anonymity, has enabled Nigeria to trend in different parts of the world and issues relating to the Twitter ban in Nigeria have become popular in free VPN locations, especially in the US, Netherlands, Canada and Ireland.
Governor Makinde had, while calling on the government to rescind the decision, said many would be rendered jobless. He counselled President Buhari not to hamper the operations of thousands of businesses and services, maintaining that the ban is capable of affecting investors’ confidence in the country.
Governor Ortom of Benue State tweeting via his official handle, said the ban was illegal. According to him, it is also an ill-advised move to divert the attention of Nigerians from the federal government’s failure to tackle insecurity in parts of the country.
Similarly, Governor El-Rufai, a leading member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, used the banned social media platform to tweet support for the federal government. He tweeted: “Based Nigeria: African country teaches US lesson in how to handle big tech tyranny.”