Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, has declared its support for the ban on Twitter by the Nigerian government.
The ruling party alleged that the social media giant’s support for divisive views threatens Nigeria’s sovereignty and national interest.
“We are a democratic and independent nation, citizens should defend our sovereignty by supporting the federal government’s Twitter suspension. It is in our national interest,” the party’s interim national secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said in its reaction issued on Saturday.
The APC’s stance comes 24 hours after the Buhari administration announced the ban on Twitter in Nigeria. The implementation of the ban commenced on Saturday with mobile telecoms operators blocking access to Twitter for all their users, based on a government directive.
Many Nigerians have been using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to bypass the ban, which has been condemned by many Nigerians and civil society organisations. The ban has been described as an attack on freedom of expression by human rights groups and activists including Amnesty International.
Following the ban, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, announced that the government plans to prosecute Nigerians still using Twitter despite the ban.
In its reaction, the APC said Nigerian youth should see the ban as an opportunity for a homegrown social media network.
“Russia has VKontakte (VK), China has Weibo, among several homegrown social media platforms. The APC believes that the country has the potentials and talents that can develop alternative and competitive applications to existing platforms in the world. Twitter’s suspension will undoubtedly serve as a positive trigger to unleash the creative potentials of Nigerians in the global digital space.
“This is a challenge to our vibrant youths with such talents. They will get support in the exercise from relevant federal government agencies as well as the numerous Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training and research establishments in the country,” the ruling party said.
The APC’s official position is expected to fact criticism from Nigerians as the party maximised the use of social media including Twitter to galvanise support against the former ruling party, PDP, in 2015.
Many APC leaders, including Mr Buhari, had acknowledged the role of social media in their electoral victory in 2015, the first time an opposition party would win a presidential election in Nigeria.
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