For Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state, the decision of the federal government to ban Twitter operations in Nigeria was ‘ill thought’. Despite being a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Akeredolu rubbished the federal government, saying the decision is likely to render youths jobless.
The governor expressed his displeasure at the decision while speaking at a celebration of Democracy Day in Akure on Saturday. It should be recalled that Mr. Akeredolu and his counterpart in Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, last week, dared the prosecution threats made by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
They defied the Nigerian authority’s directive suspending the activities of Twitter by posting tweets through their verified accounts.
While Mr. El-Rufai shared an opinion article by Nebojsa Malic, a Serbian-American journalist, to justify the ban on Twitter, nudging the United States to learn from the move by the Nigerian government, Mr. Akeredolu posted a statement reacting to the night attack that claimed several lives in Igangan community in Oyo State on Sunday.
On June 12, various state governors held a symposium to discuss matters affecting their respective states in celebration of Democracy Day. Anaedoonline.ng reported that various programs organized by authorities at different levels and states were boycotted by Nigerians who used the day to protest against irregularities in the country.
The protests were organized by civil society organizations and activists with no particular central leadership structure. They sought to express their grievances against the poor governance and the worsening insecurity in the country under Mr. Buhari’s watch.
Speaking during the Ondo state government celebration of June 12, Mr. Akeredolu openly criticized the federal government. Our correspondent obtained a short video clip of the governor’s address where he made a mockery of the APC-led government.
While he tried not to make his comments seem like an attack on the federal government, he wondered why the decision was made.
“There are many things we do a number of times that I don’t know what causes the reason. Let me just leave it,” Mr. Akeredolu paused.
After a second, he openly expressed his mind, saying youth take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms to make money before the government’s ban.
“There is youth unemployment everywhere and we are hearing the banning of Twitter and banning that, where do you want them to go?,” Mr. Akeredolu asked the crowd a rhetorical question as he shook his head in disappointment at the federal government.
Also, this newspaper earlier reported that Mr. Akeredolu questioned the workability of a return to open grazing, practiced during the First Republic as directed by Mr. Buhari.
Two weeks ago, Information Minister Lai Mohammed, announced a suspension of the activities of the microblogging platform, Twitter in Nigeria. Mr. Mohammed also disclosed that the federal government had ordered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to “immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.”
Nigerians have since been denied access to Twitter and can only access it by bypassing domain restrictions through VPNs.
The suspension was a sequel to Twitter’s deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s controversial tweet about the civil war after some Nigerian users flagged it. The government, in its response, accused the platform of bias against President Buhari and undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Although the presidency says the ban is temporary and an attempt to curb fake news, human rights activists and foreign missions have berated the President Buhari-led administration for censorship, calling for a reversal of the suspension
On his part, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami had directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) in his office, “to swing into action and commence, in earnest, the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”
Despite these directives, many Nigerians continue to dominate the microblogging platform. Although the federal government and Twitter have begun talks on how to resolve their clash citizens believe the government went too far.
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