Beyond Twitter to All OTT & Social Media Ban in Nigeria; Bank’s N6.98 for USSD Transactions

Beyond Twitter to All OTT & Social Media Ban in Nigeria; Bank’s N6.98 for USSD Transactions

Nigeria has banned Twitter but it may not end therein: “The Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria,” Nigeria’s information minister, Lai Mohammed, said.

A social commentator explained what could happen:

“OTT” stands for “over the top,” and is video industry parlance for content delivered via the internet, independent of traditional broadcast, cable, and terrestrial satellite networks. Netflix, HBO Now/Max, YouTube, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Video… all OTT. The announcement instructs the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation to begin registering all OTT and social media services. This creates the opportunity for regulation and forcible compliance as a means of ensuring certain information is not available in the country,” Oluseyi Sonaiya tweeted.

Simply, Nigeria can ban Netflix, HBO Now/Max, YouTube, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Video, etc in a hurry. Yet, I do not expect that to happen. Twitter is already making moves to unban its services in Nigeria.

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT ON TWITTER SUSPENSION IN NIGERIA

The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post. There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.

Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.

The President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in 2019 said “the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.”

This and similar crimes which have been fueled by social media networks risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.

Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.

President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.

The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.

A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

When the President said that they will be treated “in a language they understand,” he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.

This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.

IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 5, 2021

USSD Bank Charges

As that happens, Nigerian banks can now charge customers for USSD services: ‘Users of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services in Nigeria have started getting notice of N6.98 charges for each transaction session. This follows the agreement reached in March between the deposit money banks and the telecommunication firms after the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in a dispute about accumulated debts. A notice received by a bank customer read, “Welcome to USSD Banking. Please note, a N6.98 network charge will be applied to your account for banking services on this channel.”’

The Economics of Twitter and What Nigeria Needs To Know

 

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