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Nigeria Computer Society makes strong case for review of Twitter ban

. NCS also requests for government’s support for the development of homegrown and enviable alternative social media platforms

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Nigeria Computer Society, twitter
President, Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. Adesina Sodiya

Nigeria Computer Society said it is convinced very strongly that negative effects of Twitter’s suspension outweigh the gains in Nigeria.

In a statement made available to our correspondent, titled: ‘NCS Advice to Nigeria Government On Twitter Ban’, the President, Professor Adesina Sodiya, pointed out that many researchers in Nigeria use Twitter as a source of their dataset for natural language processing (NLP) tasks, among other usages.

Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) was established in 1978 as the umbrella body for all Information Technology practitioners in Nigeria.

The Society comprises of various interest groups in the ICT industry namely:

  • Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN),
  • Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON),
  • Academia in Information Technology Profession (AITP),
  • Information Technology Systems & Security Professionals (ITSSP),
  • Nigerian Women in Information Technology (NiWIIT),
  • Nigerian Information Technology Professionals in Civil Service (NITPCS),
  • Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) and
  • the National Association of Computing Students (NACOS).

The Federal Government of Nigeria recently suspended the use of Twitter in the country citing misinformation and spread of fake news as major reasons for the action.

While acknowledging that the ban has both positive and negative benefits to Nigeria, Prof. Sodiya said that the Federal Government should step up efforts towards supporting indigenous experts to develop similar platforms.

“It is also important to analyze the effects of this ban on the citizens, corporate organizations and governments. It has then become very imperative for NCS to advise government on the way forward on this issue of Twitter suspension in Nigeria.

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“There are many social media platforms of which Twitter is one and extremely popular.

“Twitter has become the platform for young people and indeed all Nigerians to exercise their fundamental right to express and publish opinions. They use the platform to complain, argue and give feedback to government and its agencies who in turn, use these to improve their policies and programmes.

“This is a fundamental point that should be kept in mind as we debate the necessity of this suspension.

“We should also remember that Twitter has gone beyond a source of communication for many of our hardworking youths in Nigeria.

“It has become a source of livelihood for many, irrespective of their political affiliations or religious leanings. Nigerian youths and digital communications organizations earn a living from being able to use the platform to post communications on behalf of their clients.

“Others, who may not have physical stores also rely on Twitter to give visibility to their products and services.

Twitter API

“Many researchers in Nigeria use Twitter as a source of their dataset for natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Results of research in NLP contributes to national development through provision of resources for computing in the local languages, speech to text and text to speech applications and other intricate supports for human computer interactions, health informatics, opinion mining for national security, news and situational analytics as well as financial analysis.

“So, the Twitter API is a critical resource for both academics and students and the ban on Twitter means a denial of access to the teeming young researchers in our various institutes and universities.

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“Also, Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) is supposed to enable Nigeria to take advantage of digital technologies in order to become a leading player in the global digital economy.

Investor confidence:

“Investors’ confidence will be hugely affected, especially for a sector (ICT) that helped Nigeria to recover from a recession. Businesses in Nigeria use digital media to reach customers, expose their brands and communicate with various stakeholders, so that will definitely be affected by any restriction”.

The NCS President added that going forward the world is going digital even though the earth is analog everything in the developed world is digital from medicine (era of COVID19), you no longer need a physical store to do business.

NCS’ recommendations

The President said that NCS’ NEC agree that Nigerian Government should also have a legal framework to register and regulate these Tech Giants and institute a deterrent punitive measures like fines and the likes instead of suspension and outright ban.

He said that all the tech giants should apply for license from the appropriate government agencies including CPN, NCS, NBC to operate in Nigeria officially as they do in Europe and America.

He further stated that the government should be able to recognize and value Information Technology society like Nigeria Computer Society and always seek technological advice from the society before taking any drastic measure on any information technology-based issue.

“Nigeria should look inward for her home grown similar application like Twitter. NCS believes that there is no software or platform needs of this country that cannot be developed in Nigeria”, he added.

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Essentially, the Society said negative effects of the Twitter ban are indeed alarming and huge.

“Job losses to unemployment, economics woes and recession; youth restlessness and banditry; insecurity and terrorism; brain drain; loss of ideas and creativity; we therefore appeal to FG to lift the ban forthwith”.

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