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Twitter Ban In Nigeria And The Many Implications

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Any responsible government would do everything doable to protect its corporate existence and the safety of its citizens; and so, when the Nigeria Federal Government suspend the use of the microblogging social media, Twitter in Nigeria on the premise of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”, many elder statesmen that has foresight and or had worked for the unity of the country welcome it.

This is not the first time a government is banning or suspending a tech company that is perceived as hostile and so Nigeria is not the only country that has slammed a kind of restriction on tech companies for the reason of protecting citizenry and corporate existence.

Recently in February 2021, the India government release new intermediary Guidelines for social media platforms and asked all platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to follow these rules. They were given three months to comply with the rules or risked being suspend.

Also In recent episode of the US-China geopolitical showdown, President Joe Biden is enforcing a new executive order that bans investment in 59 Chinese companies including Huawei effective from August 2. The new decision prevents US investments in Chinese companies with suspected ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Joining Huawei on the list is chip maker SMIC, telecom operator China Mobile, video surveillance company Hikvision, and a plethora of Chinese defense sector companies, . A senior US official confirmed that about 58 and that more Chinese companies will likely be added to the list in the months to come.

According to gsmarena.com President Joe Biden was quoted as saying, “I find that the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuse constitute unusual and extraordinary threats, which have their source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby expand the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13959 to address those threats.”, to that effect.

The core issue with Huawei has been concerns about its coziness with the Chinese government and fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies.

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Why the twitter ban, first of its kind in Africa’s most populous country strange is because it came two days after the social media giant deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account for violating its rule

However, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, while maintaining the stand of the FG at the investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives joint committees on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values alongside the National Security, Justice and Commerce, on the controversial ban, had argued that the Nigerian government relied on the constitution, National Security Act, the Cybercrime law and Companies and Allied Matters Act, (CAMA) before it decided to suspend Twitter’s operations.

Alhaji Mohammed cited the activities of the Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, during the EndSARS protests as one of the reasons for the ban. It further said that Twitter also allowed it platform to be used by the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) to promote seditious and terrorist activities.

At the hearing, the minister decried the role played by Twitter during the EndSARS protests last October, saying that it did not only retweet the messages of the protesters but also raised funds for them.

“During the EndSARS protest, the same Twitter played an unsavoury role, by making its platform to retweet, and not just retweet the messages of the EndSARS protesters, but raising funds for the EndSARS protesters, before it was hijacked by hoodlums,” he said.

Twitter has not come out publicly to refute all these claim!

The EndSARS protest caused wanton destruction and looting of properties running into billions of Naira across the country, with accompanying loss of live and perpetration of more criminal activities of varying degree; such as jail break.

However, some Nigerians are not seeing it that way. Unfortunately, Immediately after Twitter’s suspension, Twitter users in the country, through VPNs, flooded the platform to express their anger and disappointment, prompting the Nigerian attorney general’s office order for immediate prosecution of Nigerians who try to bypass the government’s Twitter ban after the government suspended its operations.

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Other advocates call on the FG to lift the suspension immediately takuing into cognizance the negative effect of the Twitter suspension on Nigerians who depend on the platform for their livelihood,

Engr. Benjamin Femi however has divergent opinion. He said that, “Individual benefits from a use of a particular social media that has been proved to be causing more harm than good may not be significant considering the collective disadvantages and national interest in the long run.”

“There may be more to this. Aside the initial claim that twitter platform is being used for activities inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria. Nigeria that has been celebrated as one of the few African countries attracting investment into its tech ecosystem was shunned when Twitter chose mere Ghana for its first African headquarters, which country will take that?” Benjamin further querried.

About 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, more than Ghana’s entire population of 32 million.

And so, one of the conditions given social media operating in the country is to establish office in Nigeria.

Twitter’s decision to choose Ghana over Nigeria was evident in a statement where the organisation described Ghana “as a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet”, and analysts said that this is a confirmation of Twitter’s decision not to choose Nigeria in the first place.

In 2021, as Nigeria ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the Reporters without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, Analysts expressed fear that Buhari’s administration is reminiscent of his 1984 military regime. That He imposed draconian legislation that allowed the government to imprison any journalist or civil society member guilty of “embarrassing” the country’s military leader.

Many are afraid that the FG is removing freedom of speech by gaging the social media platforms. Aljazeera quoted Alumona, a 24 year old Nigerian as saying that, “The way things are going, I’m scared as a Nigerian because we don’t know what’s coming next,” he said.

Aside this, there is nothing wrong in the FG protecting 39 million Nigerian twitter users and regulating the activities of social media platforms, just the way traditional media are regulated in the country. The FG also directing social media to also establish office in Nigeria if they want to continue their business in Nigeria does not look like a bad idea.

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Social media should show a little more respect for their customers in Nigeria. Twitter for instance, does not prioritize their customer base in Nigeria when it took it Africa Head Office to Ghana. This is because a customer base of over 39 million users may need to be travelling to Ghana to resolve social media account issue if need arise. That is a substantial loss of revenue!

According to, Tom Chukwudili, “The current stand of the FG would sanitise the social media scape by eliminating fake news, hate speech and entrenching cultural value into social. It would also create opportunity and avenue for homegrown social media that truly understand Nigeria cultural value to thrive.”

“As a software developer, if you have any problem with integration of some of the social media components, it take months, if not years to fix. Because they are not here in Nigeria where you can easily go and complain to them in their office.”, Tom lamented.

As debate rages on activities and regulation of social media, we hope that the authorities come out with framework that would engender safe social media for all.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Business and Economy

Made In Nigeria Phone To Hit Market Soon – ITF

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The Director General and Chief Executive of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari has disclosed that the Fund is set to acquire machinery for mass production of ITF Mobile in Nigeria.

He said the Industrial Fund will soon hit the nation’s market when it commences the mass production and it launching into market the ITF mobile phones.

The DG in a press statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs Department, Suleyol Fred Chagu and made available to Journalists yesterday in Jos the Plateau State maintained that the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has initiated processes for the procurement and installation of a production line specially dedicated for that purpose at the ITF Model Skills Training Centre (MSTC), Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Ari, disclosed this when he received the leadership of the two in-house Unions of the Fund in his office at the Headquarters where he also revealed that since the symbolic presentation of the ITF Mobile phone to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Agency has been inundated with requests for partnership from corporate entities within the country.

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In his words, “I have given directive to the Director of Technical and Vocational Skills Training Department, who is also the zonal Director of the ITF MSTC to get all the immediate machines so that we will be able to set up the production line.

“Since the good news, we have also received a lot of requests for partnership, including one from AfriOne, who want to
partner with us. This is good as we cannot do it alone because we are not an island unto ourselves. The main thing is that this product is a home grown product and this lends credence to the fact that we too can do it in Nigeria” he boastfully stated.

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The DG expressed gratitude to the leadership of the two union bodies, “the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSACGOC) and Amalgamated Union Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE)” for identifying and supporting the Management, saying.
For him, “every leader should have a strategic vision. But you also need followers that will key into the leaders’
vision and happily, that’s what has happened in the ITF. The Unions have been great partners in progress. You
have at all times remodeled, looked at the vision, reviewed it along with us and the areas where you find us going
wrong, you took us back on track”.

He stressed the need for continuous dialogue as recipe for industrial harmony. “The relationship between the ITF, Management and the two Unions gives credence to the fact that it pays to dialogue.

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President of Senior Staff (SSACGOC), Comrade Kayode Alakija and the Acting Chairman of AUPCTRE, Comrade Lawal Mohammed Ado earlier on in a separate remarks showered praises on the DG for the milestone achievement and urged the need to speed up the mass production of the android phone which, according to them, would be another source of revenue for the Agency.

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ICT

New SIM Registration to Resume April 19 As FG Lifts Embargo

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The Federal Government on Thursday, 15th April, 2021 directed telecommunication providers to commence new SIM cards registration from Monday, April 19 with the provision of National Identification Number (NIN).

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, said thursday in Abuja that the approval was in line with the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.

In a statement signed by his Technical Assistant, Information Technology, Dr Femi Adeluyi, the minister said Monday April 19, 2021 was adopted for the implementation of the policy.

Adeluyi said other suspended activities would also resume on the same date, as long as verification was done and guidelines fully adhered to.

The minister also directed NCC and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the Policy were strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.

The Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, Section 23(a), specifies the role of the Minister to include the formulation, determination, and monitoring of the general policy for the communications sector.

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“The Minister had coordinated and led the development of the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration in collaboration with all other stakeholders.

“An earlier Policy was approved on the 4th of February 2020, while the Revised Policy was developed in early March 2021.

“The final amendments to the revised Policy based on the directives of Mr President to make the use of NIN mandatory for all SIM registration were completed yesterday, 14th of April, 2021.

“Prior to that, the key aspects of the draft Policy were presented to the stakeholders at the 4th Review Meeting of the Ministerial Task Force (MTF) on the NIN-SIM registration which held on Friday, 26th of February, 2021,” he said.

The Policy includes Guidelines on New SIM Acquisition and Activation, SIM Replacement, New SIM Activation for Corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machineto-Machine (IoT/M2M), amongst others.

The possession of a National Identity number will be a prerequisite for each of these categories. For the Corporate registration, he said institutions will be required to appoint a Telecoms Master (at the minimum of an Executive Management level) to provide the operational Primary NIN representation.

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“The Telecoms Master will also be responsible for ensuring that the users provide their NINs to serve as a Secondary NIN. “For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point-to-point data services specific to the URL they are working with.

On NIN registration, Adeluyi stated that significant progress has been made in the process across the country, noting that the Federal Government was committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN.

“The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards.

“The Revised Policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture. The Guidelines in the Policy have been painstakingly developed and while they are thorough, it should be noted that they have been developed that way in National interest since the SIM is essentially a national resource,” he explained.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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ICT

Digital Economy: Why N’Assembly Must Repeal NITDA Act Now – Dr. Inuwa

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Senator Joel Ikenya: crosses to APC from PDP
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Yemi Itodo

As Nigeria’s economy continues to drift from oil and gas to digital economy and data technology, the Director-General (DG) of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Kashifu Inuwa, has called on both chambers of the National Assembly to repeal the NITDA Act of 2007.

Dr. Inuwa made this call Thursday evening, while playing host to the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Bashiru at NITDA headquarters, Abuja.

According to Inuwa, the NITDA Act, which was signed in 2007, has become obsolete, irrelevant and unfit to assist Nigeria achieve her objectives of digital economy and green energy policies.

He added that, the agency was already on the right pedestal to make information and data technology, artificial intelligence development and other components of digital economy work for Nigeria, but expressed fears and worries that such policies would not work without an enabling laws, such as repealing the NITDA Act.

“We need a law to help us institutionalize and make it work. Even some of the vocabularies used in that law are obsolete and no longer in use. We need to change a lot of things and we need to do that as soon as possible, to enable us succeed in the area of green energy and information technology.

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“We see IT or digital devices as enabling everything we do. About 80% of what we do everyday is powered by digital technology.

“How do we use artificial intelligence to improve our farm products and how to predict and share information about our farm. It is through the technology made available to us”, Inuwa said.

He said the agency was already working with the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and relevant authorities, to submit a clean amendment Bill to the National Assembly for legislative work.

When repealed, the new NITDA Act would guarantee the safety of personal data of Nigerians as well as empowering NITDA in implementing the digital economy and data technology.

The law would also give the agency the capacity to regulate information technology based on Federal Government’s objectives, while promoting local and indigenous products and making Nigeria a hub for innovations.

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Earlier, the Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Bashiru expressed satisfaction, on behalf of the Senate, over the progress made by NITDA in information technology and digital economy.

The lawmaker, while assuring the agency of possible collaborations in its duties, also alluded to the need for an enabling law to allow the agency function optimally.

“The 9th Senate would not hesitate to work with any agency that is willing to help the country move.

“We have a country that the population is growing and it is projected that in the next 10 years it would overshoot. The areas of green energy, ecosystem and agricultural productivity would be a great challenge, if we do not plan ahead. We look forward to your agency to assist in information technology by giving the needed guide for the growth of agriculture and our national economy.

“We should be net exporters of foods and not to he relying on other countries for food productions”, the lawmaker said.

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Senator Bashiru also charged the DG to stern the capacity of his organization to be able to match the workforce needed for the education of the younger generations and in meeting up with the global trend of digital technology.

NITDA was established by President Olusegun Obasanjo in year 2001, as a hub for developing information technology for Nigeria. The agency, under the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, is expected to champion the roadmap for the implementation of digital economy policy of the Federal Government.

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