'Nigeria needs Twitter just as much as Twitter needs Nigeria,' - Senate President Lawan

Lawan hopes talks between both parties will yield fruitful results.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan [Tope Brown]

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has finally broken his silence on the Federal Government's decision to ban the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

The American microblogging and social networking service was suspended last week allegedly because it was being used for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence.

Many critics, including foreign governments, have strongly opposed the suspension as a violation of the rights of Nigerians, but the Buhari-led government has doubled down on its position.

The Senate has largely steered clear of taking a position on the suspension, despite having two plenary sessions this week, but Lawan on Friday, June 11, 2021 said Nigeria and Twitter need each other.

He said, "I believe this engagement between Twitter and the government will yield fruitful results.

"I am an optimist. I believe all of us would have learnt our lessons."

Nigeria's suspension announcement came just days after Twitter deleted a tweet from President Buhari's official account after it was deemed to have violated its rules.

The tweet had been widely reported by Nigerians as harmful after the president appeared to threaten separatist agitators in the south east region with a repeat of the civil war that killed millions between 1967 and 1970.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the action made Twitter's mission in Nigeria suspicious, especially in light of its past actions considered an affront to the Nigerian government.

Nigerian users can only access Twitter now by using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to conceal their IP addresses, and disguise their location.

The government has insisted that one of the conditions for lifting the suspension is the registration of Twitter as a business in Nigeria.

The decision to suspend the platform has been considered by many as a backdoor policy to finally enforce a social media regulation that Nigerians have been pushing hard against especially under President Buhari.

Following the announcement of the ban, Mohammed said the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has been directed to immediately commence the process of licensing all over-the-top media service and social media operations in the country.

This will affect the Nigerian operations of giants like Netflix, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, YouTube, and many more.

This development is expected to significantly impact the tech eco-system in Nigeria, considered one of the country's shining lights in the midst of years of escalating poverty, ballooning unemployment rate, and struggling economy.

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