PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) governors have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set his ego aside and admit that there was no justification for banning Twitter in Nigeria and asked that he lift the indefinite suspension imposed on the platform.
Earlier this month, 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. In the tweet, 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.
Nigerian civil society groups have condemned the ban, saying it is a breach of free speech, while the country’s entertainment industry has said it will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs. Despite the ban, millions of Nigerians have continued to use Twitter, including state governors, clergymen and celebrities who have been using virtual private networks (VPN) to access the site.
Yesterday, the PDP Governors Forum met in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, during which they condemned the ban on Twitter. They issued a communiqué at the end of their meeting in which they said the reasons given for the government action was personalised, adding that the ban would hurt Nigerian youth who do not have adequate access to employment and have been relying on Twitter to earn legitimate incomes.
“The mere ego of Mr President is not enough for such a drastic action that deprives millions of Nigerians from such an affordable means of expression and communication. This will further worsen Nigeria’s 33% unemployment rate which is the highest in the world, improve Nigeria’s ranking as the country with second highest poverty rate in the entire world, all of which happened under APC’s unfortunate stewardship,” the governors said.
They appealed to President Buhari to review the ban in the national interest. Expressing fears that President Buhari’s administration may be sliding into dictatorship, the governors said social media regulation can only be done within the existing laws on the subject and should not be used as an attempt to punish or gag Nigerians from enjoying constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Governors who attended the meeting included its president Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, who is the vice chairman and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State who hosted the meeting. Others were Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Samuel Ortom of Benue, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Darius Ishaku of Taraba, and Mahdi Mohammed, the deputy governor of Zamfara State.