The suspension of Twitter’s activities in Nigeria may soon be overturned as the federal government says it has resolved some of the issues it raised with the social media platform.
The government had, on June 4, announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operation in Nigeria following the deleting of tweets made by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had threatened to treat members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the language they understand.
The federal government had however attributed the suspension to “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
While responding to questions on the issue on Wednesday, Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, told state house correspondents that progress has been made in resolving the impasse following a series of meetings.
The minister said most of the conditions given to the platform have been accepted, adding that Twitter has agreed to set up an office in Nigeria, but the company maintained that the earliest it can happen is 2022.
“I want to say that the end for an amicable solution is very much in sight. We quite appreciate the anxiety of Nigerians who have been worried that two months after the suspension, we’ve not been able to finalise talks, but I just want to assure you that we have made tremendous progress,” he said.
“We set up a technical committee to engage Twitter; they set up their own committee too. Apart from dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, we’re actually almost there. I don’t want to say that the engagement has been extremely positive, devoid of any acrimony. As a matter of fact, it is to the credit of Twitter that they admitted that they’ve never received any kind of informed or detailed or professional communication from any country as they have received from us. Not only did they promise that they were going to look into it, but we made very clear what we wanted from Twitter.
“One of the conditions that we set was that Twitter, in line with Nigeria’s Companies and Allied Matters Act, should establish presence in Nigeria with registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission. We believe that it’s important that Twitter should have a company representative who is high up, so that he/she can take complaints directly from Nigeria to Twitter. We also asked that, in addition to registering the Nigerian company, Twitter must also register with relevant regulatory authorities like NIPDA, like NCC, broadcasting commission.
“Fourthly, we asked that Twitter shall be mandated to retain designated local agents to manage its engagement with federal government operations in Nigeria. We also asked Twitter to commit itself to working with the federal Inland Revenue Service. We also proposed to Twitter that we should agree on a charter of online conduct for content management.”
The minister expressed confidence that everything will be ironed out with Twitter within a few days or weeks while acknowledging the anxiety that has been shown by Nigerians.
He said the federal government’s committee negotiating with Twitter will soon meet to make recommendations.