Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has said the demarketing of the country by Nigerians may be partly responsible for the decision of Twitter to establish its African headquarters in Ghana rather than in Nigeria.
Mohammed made this known in an interview published on Thursday.
Twitter had on Monday in a statement jointly signed by Kayvon Beykpour, Product Lead, Twitter and Co-Founder, Periscope; and Uche Adegbite, Director, Product Management, Global Markets, explained that it chose Ghana because the West African country is “a champion for democracy” and “a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet”.
Reacting, Mohammed said the decision by the microblogging site not to site its African headquarters in Nigeria was not an economic decision, noting that the country has the economic indices to be considered by the company.
According to the minister, the unpatriotic attitude of some Nigerians, especially those on the social media and the mainstream media, who he said have always struggled to outdo one another in painting Nigeria as a hellish place would give foreign investors some concern.
He noted that the negative comments made by Nigerians on social media platforms, particularly Twitter, were denigrating and could have possibly influenced the decision of the microblogging site.
He said he hopes this development would serve as a lesson to Nigerians not to demarket their country for whatever reason.
“The natural expectation is that Nigeria should have been the hub of Twitter in this part of Africa, given that fact that we have about 25m twitter users against 8m in Ghana,” Mohammed told the Vanguard.
“Clearly, the decision was not a commercial and business one. But, in think Twitter has the prerogative and exclusive rights to decide where to site its headquarters.
“I hope this will serve as a lesson to Nigerians because all the reasons cited by Twitter for sitting its Headquarters in Accra, Ghana is that Ghana is champion of democracy, rule of law among other reasons.
“This is what you get when you demarket your own country. The fine time especially for the media is to find fault in their own country, most times exaggerate the challenges the country is facing.
“And at no time was this better seen as during the EndSars protest, where Nigerian journalists both traditional and new media were trying to outdo themselves in painting Nigeria as a hail, where nobody should live.
“They tried to vilify not just the government but the country. I thank God that the last US report vindicated the government that there was no corroboration to the claim that people were killed at Lekki Toll gate as against what majority of the Media were championing.
“I think this will teach all of us a lesson that we have no country than Nigeria.”
Mohammed stated that no one has been asked not to criticise the government, but insisted that such critique should be done in a fair and reasonable manner.
He said it is comments made by Nigerians about Nigeria that foreigners will largely depend upon and use to analyse whether they want to invest and set up shop in the country.
He said: “We are not saying you should not criticise the government but be fair and patriotic. When you destroy your own house, where are you going to live?
“You can imagine the job opportunities that citing that Headquarters in Nigeria would have created, you can imagine the kind of visibility it would give Nigeria.
“But we destroyed it. Don’t forget that it is what insiders do that outsiders would use to judge us. Nigerians should learn better to manage the image of the country.”