Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, blamed those he described as “unpatriotic Nigerians” for the decision by Twitter to make Ghana its African headquarters.
Mohammed, during an interaction with reporters in Abuja, blamed Nigerians for projecting the image of the country negatively on social media platforms, including Twitter, especially during the #EndSARS protests last October. The nationwide protest started on Twitter before physical mobilisation on the streets.
Both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also bickered over Twitter’s decision.
Mohammed said: “Natural expectation would have been for Nigeria to be the hub for Twitter, especially in this part of Africa even with the fact that we have 25.4 million Twitter users in Nigeria, against eight million users in Accra.
“So, clearly the decision was not a commercial and business one.
“But I think Twitter has the prerogative and the exclusive right as to where to site its headquarters. But I hope that this will serve as a lesson to Nigerians.
“The reason cited by Twitter for citing the headquarters in Accra, Ghana, is that Accra is a champion of democracy and there is rule of law in Accra, among other reasons.
“This is what you get when you demarket your own country. This will teach a lot of us a lesson that we have no country other than Nigeria.
“We are not saying that you should not criticise the country but be fair and patriotic. When you destroy your own house, where are you going to live?
“You can imagine the kind of job opportunities that siting that headquarters in Nigeria would have created, the kind of visibility it would have given Nigeria but we destroyed it. It is what the insiders say about their country that the outsider will use to judge and condemn the country.”
The APC also took on the PDP on the decision by Twitter to locate its Africa headquarters in Ghana, stating that Nigeria remains the biggest economy on the continent and an investment destination of choice.
The Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said there was no issue in Twitter ignoring Nigeria.
It stated that the company is a private concern that maintains an exclusive right to locate its business anywhere.
The statement, by the National Secretary of the APC CECPC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, was titled ‘APC: Nigeria as Africa’s biggest economy remains a top investment destination.’
It said: “Flowing from a statement by the Peoples Democratic Party, our response to Twitter’s decision to cite its African operations in Ghana is simple. The decision or rationale of private concerns, particularly businesses on where to cite their operations is their exclusive preserve. It is a no issue!
“However, for the PDP that mocks the country and its citizens over what it celebrates as missed ‘business prospects’, such political party does not mean well for the country and should definitely not be considered as a governance option. It is exhausting and depressing highlighting PDP’s ignominious past. The APC will rather consolidate and focus on how Nigeria is finally getting it right under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“How come what the PDP terms the present ‘misrule’ did not stop multinational technology companies, Facebook and Google, from opening offices in Nigeria? Neither did it stop the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and multinational food manufacturing giants, Kellogg’s, from establishing their multi-billion naira brewery and factory (respectively) in Nigeria.”
But in a swift reaction, the PDP said the APC’s comment showed that the APC and the Buhari administration had a poor understanding of governance.
The PDP said the statement by the APC showed that the ruling party and the Buhari administration were not ready to end their policy inconsistency and the fettering of the youths through suppression of free speech, stifling of online freedom and open internet, for which made Twitter shun Nigeria for Ghana.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, stated that the disposition by the APC has strengthened the widespread view among Nigerians that the ruling party and its administration suppressed every vocation in which the youth demography has shown interest.
“Their statement also validates apprehensions in the public space that the APC deliberately worked against the citing of Twitter headquarters in Nigeria because of their plot to forcefully regulate the use of internet in our country,” he said.
According to him, a more responsive government and political party, which has the interest of the people at heart, ought to the device all means possible to attract the Africa headquarters of Twitter to the country given the huge benefits such would have served in the face of grinding unemployment which the APC administration has imposed on Nigerians.
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja