We – Public Relations and Communications Association, International Communications Consultancy Organisation, and BlackHouse Media – are calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria, Twitter Inc., and other stakeholders to constructively address the Twitter ban in Nigeria in order to find a positive resolution.
Twitter is used by 39 million citizens in Nigeria for information, communication and networking. The ban has serious implications for free speech, public discourse, trade, and Nigeria’s reputation, globally. The ban impacts investor confidence not only in Nigeria, but in the entire African continent because of the influence Nigeria wields.
We call on the government of Nigeria to lift the ban immediately and we call on Twitter to demonstrate it is ready to work closely with the government to understand the concerns raised.
Francis Ingham, PRCA Director General and ICCO Chief Executive said: “The Federal Government of Nigeria’s decision to ban Twitter is deeply concerning. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and the global PR industry is united in its belief that this matter must be resolved quickly.
“Public relations cannot operate effectively without free speech and free media. We stand shoulder to shoulder with BHM and our Nigerian colleagues in advocating for freedom of expression, open internet, and constructive dialogue.
“We also recognise the complexity of the technology landscape which can threaten – as well as nourish – democratic institutions and we urge Twitter to begin a dialogue with the Nigerian Government to address these issues.
“Freedom of speech has been identified as a dominant theme within ICCO’s forthcoming whitepaper on communication challenges and we look forward to supporting efforts to address these important issues.”
Ayeni Adekunle, CEO, BHM, said: “As Nigeria, her citizens, and companies continue to build a future that could see the world benefit more from their talents, ideas, products, and services, this is the time to use the resources that technology, communications, and globalization provide; not just for economic reasons, but for national pride, internationalization, and mobilization.”
“Nigeria is an African leader, and it is our wish that the government would focus on the value platforms like Twitter add to free speech, public conversations, social collaborations, media innovation, and electronic commerce while working with big tech to optimize around identified downsides,” Ayeni added.
Having observed the influence that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp have on democracy, we call on these organisations to invest more in localizing their Africa operations and educating users on disinformation and misinformation.
Africa is in urgent need of strong institutions and technology platforms must commit to helping to accelerate this goal.