Impact of Twitter ban on Advertising, Effects on Productive Youth Population – Babaeko
Against the backdrop of the vast opportunities the internet and social media hold for the youth population, Steve Babaeko, President AAAN holds that the government should approach the issue of the Twitter ban with caution and tact to allow the youth continue to cash in on the inherent employment opportunities the social media offer.
“A cure for a severe headache just can’t be the severance of the head” was Babaeko’s first response on his Twitter handles when authorities in government first muted the idea to suspend or ban Twitter owing to some infractions by the microblogging website.
“I think there are several ways to look at this issue and solve it in a more congenial way that will not create a ripple effect of challenges we are experiencing as a result of the ban right now”.
Alluding the present circumstance to the usual “kneel jack” reactions that have become the usual reactive ways especially by government officials, the AAAN President holds that government officials to a certain degree, “don’t look at the bigger picture of some of the challenges that their reactions might trigger”.
“This is a country that is just coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic; we went into our second recession in 5 years in 2020; you saw how the economy contracted especially in the last quarter of 2020 and now if you say you are going to ban Twitter which is a market place for young generation”, he wonders what the result will be.
He noted that this chain of unfortunate events is dangerous especially in the face of the subsisting ban on cryptocurrency, following up such with a ban on Twitter leaves a sour taste in the mouth, when you consider the unemployment rate among the young population in the country which could be as high as 40 – 45% depending on which state you are looking at in the federation.
No positive solution can come out of this ban
Emphatically, Steve declared no positive solution can come out of this. “Nigeria is not the only country that is dealing with the new reality of social media”. There are two ways to deal with this issue as exemplified in other parts of the world. There is a middle ground between those two ways. There is the very extreme way which is what China is probably doing right now, autocratic nobody can ask the government anything. The Chinese government ban Twitter out rightly.
Merits of the Indian Mode
Then Indian model. As of June 7, maybe a few days after the Nigerian government banned Twitter in Nigeria, Twitter seek an injunction in court to discuss with the government. There are couple of people or accounts giving the government problems- Punjabi singer JazzyB and hip-hop artist L-Fresh the Lion and a couple of others. They seek a court injunction and used the court injunction to discuss with Twitter and Twitter banned those two frontline accounts and a few others so that whatever they tweet cannot be seen in India because those accounts were very critical of the government’s agricultural policy and government couldn’t take it anymore so they went through the legal channel to challenge Twitter and Twitter had to do something.
So, we can actually find a middle ground where we have conversation with Twitter. If there are specific accounts that are doing something that officials think is really anti-Nigeria, you can have those conversations with Twitter. Twitter has its rules, they will weigh your submission vs their own rules and they can take a decision.
Unfair to Legitimate Businesses and innocent Citizens
The current ban has only joined those who are innocent, doing legitimate businesses to eke out a living through the new media or digital media space, with the guys who the government probably has issues with, and now people, business, and the nation are bleeding revenue.
This action witting or unwitting throws more people into poverty, “don’t forget that this is a country where almost about 18 million Nigerians went into poverty as of 2020 so we are just compounding the problem and I will like to use this opportunity on behalf of our members who still do business on Twitter, on behalf of ordinary Nigerians who do business on Twitter, on behalf of digital agencies who almost exclusively ply their trade on digital media for the government to review this decision and find an amicable way of settling it”.
If the ban is sustained, the effect will be massive on the GDP said Steve. Focusing on the bigger picture – the macroeconomy, he explained, “last two years, Nigerian startups raised almost about $498 million dollars in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Most of these monies came into the Fintech space. This happened because investors were confident the country was/is conducive for investment. Once government starts this kneel jack reaction to situations, there is going to be capital flight, all these monies will be diverted. For instance, Twitter had the choice to situate their headquarters somewhere in Africa, they chose Ghana. This is not minding the fact that the amount of Nigerians on Twitter is close to about 40 million people which is more than the entire population of Ghana as a country, so ideally, it should be here but that’s kind of the things we will be seeing where people who ordinarily will want to invest here will take their business to Egypt or South Africa or Indonesia that are already beating Nigeria in terms of FDIs numbers as it stands today.
According to Babaeko, there are millions of people out there who love this country, “it’s in our best interest to find an amicable solution to this problem so that Nigerians and businesses who earn their living on Twitter can continue to do so”.
Referring to the government’s proposed registration, suggestive of an impending taxation regime for social media or microblogging platforms, the AAAN President noted, “it is within the prerogative of the government to tax anybody but if you want to do certain things, there are much more interesting and nicer ways to do those things”
He stresses, “Nigeria is one of the most maligned nations in the world. We can’t even help ourselves if we are now playing to some of those narratives that don’t even favour this country. I think it is about time the government took a second look at this decision and in the interest of those young Nigerians who are struggling to eke out a living especially through the numerous opportunities provided by digital platforms”.
It is a no-brainer to urgently review the ban. “There is much unemployment within the youth bracket and if there is going to be any kind of upheaval in this country, those are the people who are energetic to do it but if people are busy, to be honest, they don’t even remember there is a government in power when people are busy and are making money. Nigerians are resilient, we can continue with our lives. I think it is in the interest of the bigger agenda of the government, to create a more enabling country for the population,- to revisit this ban and rescind the decision”.