#TwitterBan: Nigerians count losses, VPN owners make huge gains

While many Nigerians and businesses are reeling from the losses caused by the suspension of Twitter operations by the Federal Government, owners of virtual private networks, which many Twitter users have resorted to, are making huge gains.

The Nigerian government had on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of the operations of the microblogging and social networking platform in the country, days after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari which it said violated its rules.

The ban has been greeted with widespread outcry from Nigerians, with the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and others expressing their disappointment.

“The government’s recent #Twitterban undermines Nigerians’ ability to exercise to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses,” the US Mission Nigeria said in a statement on Saturday.

Following the enforcement by telecommunications companies of the ban on Twitter, many Nigerians have downloaded VPNs to enable them to continue to use the platform.

A Twitter user, @simplyEromz, tweeted on Saturday, “So a good friend of mine has been working on a site for an international client to create remote jobs for Nigerians. They have been building it for over four months. Anyway, the client called this morning to pull the plug on the project and said ‘govt policies’ will wreck them. This was going to be a very big project.

“Imagine a freelance app/website but for Nigerians? The world has tasted our skills, want more of it and they want to pay good money (dollars) to get it. Gone like that because of Twitter ban.”

Another tweep, @solomonbekebo, said, “With this #TwitterBan, owners and developers of VPNs who are certainly not Nigerians will cash out big time while countless homegrown social media-dependent businesses will suffer unfathomable blow of losses and Nigeria will keep extending her leading gap on global poverty index.”

@ToyosiGodwin said “A friend lost a job because of bad network too. This thing will affect freelancers. Even those doing remote jobs. It will affect a lot of people. Companies want reliable people with reliable resources on their teams. This country is tiring.”

Another tweep, @djslyx, said, “A lot of jobs will be lost if Nigerian government does not stop the Twitter ban. It has already sent the signal to tech startups that our policies would frustrate their business.”

@TheChibuogwu, said, “Imagine how many businesses, livelihoods and job opportunities will be lost because the Nigerian government decided to be petty enough to ban Twitter in Nigeria.”

According to Dr Tayo Oyedeji, with the handle @tayooye, all Nigerian startups now need one additional slide in their pitch decks – regulatory risk.”

The President, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, Steve Babaeko, said the ban would worsen the unemployment level in the country.

He said, “A sizeable portion of the youth population earn their livelihood off Twitter, some simply by being attack dogs or mouthpiece for politicians and the government. Clearly income for those youths will be lost no thanks to the ban.

“A chunk of media spend happens on Twitter, the media agencies and digital agencies will also lose money. Unemployment among the youth segment currently stands at about 35 percent, depending on which state of the federation you are looking at. The crypto and Twitter ban will only exacerbate the unemployment situation.”

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