By Stephen Peter Okangla

It is no longer news that the Federal Government had suspended the operation of the micro-blogging platform (Twitter) in Nigeria. This action according to the information released from the Ministry of Information and Culture on Friday, the 4th of June 2021 was necessitated by the fact that the platform was endangering the corporate existence of Nigeria. However, others have argued that the suspension of Twitter is not unconnected to the unrestricted allowance the platform avail Nigerians to express their disappointment and dissatisfaction in the way and manner things are run under the President Buhari led administration.

Opinion holders, Leaders, Civil Society Organizations, Stake holders, Clerics of different faith, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the International Community have all expressed their disappointment over the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. Needless to say that the suspension is generating miss-feelings and reactions among Nigerians, some wonder while the Federal Government would flex so much muscle on Twitter forgetting or failing to do same on those holding Nigerians to ransom, others describe the action of the Federal Government as one chasing shadow forgetting the substance.

My opinion is not different either, as I have umpteenth times since the suspension of Twitter question the rationale behind such ill-decided action. Chief Mike Ozokhome SAN and Chief Femi Falana SAN have also lend their voice on the action of the Federal Government describing same as tantamount to gagging the media. It is as result of the Federal Government’s unhealthy relationship with Nigerians on the use of mass media that warrant the management of Twitter to locate its Africa’s office in Accra, Ghana despite the fact that Nigeria has the highest population of Twitter users across the continent. The location of Africa’s Twitter office in Ghana had undisputedly denied Nigerians the chance of securing employment which the micro-blogging platform would had created.

Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as altered provides: “the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people” similarly, section 39 of the constitution provides: “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impact ideas and without interference”. These sections of the constitution coupled with several International declarations, Charters and Treaties of which Nigeria is a party to clearly grant Nigerians unrestricted and unlimited access to hold opinions, disseminate information, and access the press and social media platforms etc. Although, this right is not absolute as section 45 of the constitution provides for the restriction and derogation from it in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.

It is important to put it straight to Mr. President and the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami SAN that no Nigerian had or have used Twitter to the detriment of Nigerians or to perpetrate evil in the country as being mischievously bandied around by members of Mr. President’s cabinet to warrant such suspension. The suspension of Twitter is far from being for the safety of Nigerians nor for the corporate existence of Nigeria! It is not the solution to the numerous security challenges staring at our face either.

Truth must be told, Nigeria is already overstretch and if genuine care is not employ, it may collapse. As a patriotic and peace loving Nigerian, I do not support the way and manner the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and it’s so called  Eastern security Network (ESN) is going about their demand for self-rule, it is inimical to our peace and collective growth as a Nation. You cannot achieve Biafra by destroying your land, if you end up destroying your land which land will you then call Biafra? The action of IPOB and its ESN is reckless and pure madness!

On the same vein, I do not also support the way and manner the Federal Government is handling the situation in South East, in the community where I come from, when you beat a child with one hand, you use another hand to draw him closer and pet him, at times you even give him meat to calm him down! Similarly, if your child develops a strange behaviour, you do not cut off his head, as a father, you call the child and inquire of him his challenges and grievances, you prevail on him to know the reason behind his sudden change of attitude and behaviour. As a father you do not shut the door to your son in his trying time, it will spell doom and disaster for your family! This is exactly the kind of approach will need in Nigeria to silence the drum of war and secession heralding the air in the South East and in the South West.

I therefore, as a matter of urgency employ Mr. President to adopt the pattern of my community and call his children to a roundtable as father. Mr. President Sir, the members of the proscribed IPOB and the Sunday Igboho led agitators are your children, invite them to your hallowed chamber and inquire from them what their grievances are, prevail on them to tell you the rationale behind the violence turn of demand, press on IPOB to know their rationale behind the attacks on security men and security formations in the South East. You do not need to suspend Twitter to achieve this Mr. President! Suspending Twitter is like adding fuel to a burning fire, it may destroy our image and chase our helpers away Sir! It shows that as Nation, we care less on the log of wood in our eye which has made us blind for so many years and care more on the stain on our clothe!

The ugly part of the Federal Government’s action is that it is coming at a time we need the assistance of the global Community in tackling poverty, criminality, banditry and suppressing terrorism in the country. You would recall that the United Kingdom, European Union, United States, Canada and the Ireland Envoys had expressed their disappointment over Twitter ban stating that such action is unhealthy for Nigeria. Similarly, responding to the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, Global Amnesty Watch described the suspension as height of impunity, intolerance to criticisms. In the face of all these negative reactions, a sane man would know that Nigeria is not on the right path.

Thinking outside religious and political divides it is easy to make out that what prompted the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria was the removal of the President’s genocidal threat from the platform. The task before the Federal Government now is how to convince our helpers (International Community) that the operation of Twitter violates our laws or threaten our corporate existence. With due respect Mr. President, your action is harsh, undemocratic and repugnant to good conscience!

Recently a reports by NetBlocks showed that Nigeria will lose N 2.18 Billion per day for blocking the operation of Twitter, a micro-blogging and social media networking platform in the country. This, excluding the poor message it has sent to Investors and International Community as expressed by the United States. You don’t fix a leaking jar by breaking it, you fix a leaking jar by amending the damaged part. What the Federal Government had done is fixing a leaking jar by breaking the jar! Similarly, you don’t destroy a pot because its content is bad! At this point, it is not out of place to ask what calibers of advisers are with Mr. President. Do they counsel like the biblical Ahitophel? If they do, then I make bold to demand their resignation as Ahitophel-like counsel is not needed in Nigeria at this turbulent time.

We must not continue to wail and watch our house burn, while we wail, we must strive to put off the fire. I therefore call on all Nigerians, Graduates without jobs, out of School children, financially induced drop out to prevail on our mother and find means for her to cook a good soup! In the same manner I call on the Killer herdsmen without ranches, Terrorist, Unknown Gun Men, Bandits Kidnappers, the Oduduwa Republic agitators, the Indigenous People of Biafra and her Eastern Security Network to shield their sword and grant Nigeria the freedom to move! It is my believe that it is not wise to destroy your mother’s pot of soup because she cook a bad soup, rather it is wise to allow the pot of soup and prevail on her to cook a good soup next time!

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Stephen Okangla is patriotic Nigerian, he writes from Kaduna Sate Nigeria, he could be reach via phone: 08103894427 and vial email: stephenokangla@gmail.com

Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq

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