Twitter ban, bad Democracy Day gift

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By Muftau Gbadegesin

SIR: The suspension of the micro-blogging site, Twitter by Federal Government of Nigeria is probably the worst Democracy Day gift in more than two decades. And for a country struggling to catch up with the rest of the world technologically, politically and economically, that ban represents another dark spot in the annals of the country’s democratic trajectory.

Indeed, with that arbitrary and scary decision comes flurry of backlashes from critics and clerics decrying that draconian decision by the government. In today’s fast-changing world for example, being deft diplomatically to sift and sort political and technological squabble in a seamless fashion remains a core to political survivability and democratic sustainability.

Democracy for instance is built on robust debate, and where debate thrives, the seed of democracy blossom. For Nigeria, especially in the last six years, various measures evidenced in obnoxious sponsored bills to constant and relentless rhetoric against fake news (and alternative voices) have been advanced though futile to gag and suppress debate and dissenters thereby stifling and killing democracy in the black most populous nation on earth.  Although democracy as a system is a work in progress, and Nigeria as a country is not yet fully formed, rule of law is supposed to reign supreme. But where supremacy of the law takes backseat, as the case of Nigeria on Twitter ban, that nation gradually descend into the quicksand of anarchy and international ridicule.

One interesting fact about the 21st century is its strong headedness against control freak leaders who want to lord themselves on and maintain absolute control over their land, space and citizens. With advanced technology in communication, time, space and even sovereignty are shrinking. Thus adding flavor to the idea of a truly globalized world: a world where the line between info-sphere and biosphere continue to get blur. This idea that the line between virtual and real world is vanishing must have eluded those in authority to ban Twitter, a decision that has backfired in no small measure.

Suspending Twitter was obviously aimed at stifling civic engagement among young Nigerians, and flex unnecessary muscles against innocent citizens. Thus, the continuous use of the platform through Virtual Private Network has exposed the danger of being technologically ignorant and politically arrogant. That ban matter-of-fact has continued to expose the underbelly of our rulers who by comparison may not fare better than the khaki boys. Fortunately, the world has eclipses the loud voices of the military brass to the soft voices of reasoning and logic.

But for those in authority playing the autocratic game using the draconian rule,  no time is as difficult as now. While Twitter ban continue to send chill up the spines of those in authority, it has created a new tidal wave of political consciousness among young Nigerians. As the organic #EndSARS protest shows, there is more awareness among young folks on the need to take the bull of politics by the horn. And this ban, though now defied by same young Nigerians it targeted, is opening more eyes and hearts to the massive gains of active citizens involvement and participation in democratic process.

Muftau Gbadegesin,

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Igboho, Oyo State.

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