Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State, made a controversial return to micro-blogging platform Twitter on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, five months after the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government banned the use of the platform in Nigeria.
El-Rufai tweets from abroad amid ban, says 'conflating Twitter with freedom of speech is exaggeration'
The governor was criticized when he made a return to Twitter on Wednesday night.
All of Nigeria's state governors, government appointees across states and some members of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) have stayed away from Twitter since the ban, in compliance with the president's directive.
However, most young Nigerians have continued to use Twitter despite the ban, through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
El-Rufai, who was a prolific Twitter user before the ban, made a rare appearance on the social media platform on Wednesday, when he latched onto a tweet that praised him as the best Federal Capital Territory Minister (FCT) Abuja has ever seen.
Twitter user Taiwo Ajakaye (@dmightyangel) had shared the following: "I really wish we will get more @elrufai in politics.
"The man left FCT and till date, the Federal Capital Territory has not been able to have another FCT minister that's close to the shoe latchet of Elrufai in terms of courage, administration, performance & focus.
14 years ago o."
Quoting the tweet above, Governor El-Rufai had written that: "This is an exaggerated compliment @dmightyangel but thank you for some of the words of encouragement. God Bless our nation. - @elrufai."
Twitter users immediately took the governor to task, wondering why he was flouting his president's directive by tweeting.
One of those users was Maximus Dex (@dexxybaba). "VPN? YES?", he tweeted at El-Rufai.
El-Rufai replied with: "VPN? Nope……outside Nigeria for a couple of days, so can tweet for the time being….@dexxybaba."
Activist Rinu Oduala replied El-Rufai sarcastically with a quote that reads: "The only place you get freedom of speech is outside Nigeria."
To which the governor responded with: "Wrong @SavvyRinu! Conflating Twitter with “freedom of speech” is a significant exaggeration. Freedoms of many descriptions existed before and without Twitter, and will remain long after!! Enjoy your day."
The federal government has repeatedly promised that the Twitter ban will be lifted soon. However, months and weeks have passed since the first such promise was made by Information Minister Lai Mohammed.
On Independence Day--October 1, 2021--President Buhari had ordered the lifting of the ban with conditions.
However, no one can access Twitter without VPN in Africa's most populous nation and largest market, at the time of filing this report.
The federal government says it is still in talks with Twitter to lift the ban.
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