The lawmaker representing Delta North Senatorial District, (PDP -Delta), Senator Ned Nwoko, has said social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, X should have offices in Nigeria.
Mr Nwoko made the call in an interview in Abuja on Sunday.
He said that his call was driven by various reasons including revenue generation, ease of doing business, ease of complaints and litigation and employment opportunities among others.
Mr Nwoko said that the presence of major social media platforms in the country was essential for fostering economic growth, job creation, efficient dispute resolution, and revenue generation for the nation.
According to him, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with more than 200 million people, actively engages with popular social media platforms.
“These multinational social platforms widely used in Nigeria include, but are not limited to, Facebook, X, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Nigerians rank first in Africa for their extensive social media usage and second globally, with an average daily internet usage of three hours and 46 minutes, according to the latest Global Web Index as reported by Business Insider Africa.
“In spite of the substantial usage of these social media platforms by Nigerians within the country, these companies have yet to establish offices in Nigeria,” Mr Nwoko said.
He said that there were success stories of other multinational corporations, such as the MTN Group, Shell, Chevron, Nestle, Total, P&G, and others, which have established operations in Nigeria, contributing significantly to the nation’s economic growth and technological advancement. However, notably absent is their presence in Nigeria, a nation globally ranked second in internet and social media usage,” Mr Nwoko said.
He recalled that in 2022, the Federal Government through the National Information Technology Development Agency mandated all online platforms to register and open offices in Nigeria, and appoint contact persons with the government.
Mr Nwoko also recalled that in June 2021, the Federal Government suspended Twitter (now X) after it removed a post by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“However, the ban was later lifted after the social media platform agreed to open a local office, among other agreements. A case that could have been swiftly, efficiently, and effectively resolved, if the respective social media platform had established an office in Nigeria,” he said.
The lawmaker said though the multinational social platforms maintain offices in several countries such as the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, and others, there is none in Nigeria.
He explained that this strategy aims to cater to their user bases, manage regional content policies, cultivate local partnerships, and address specific market needs and concerns.
Mr Nwoko expressed concern that the absence of offices for social media platforms in Nigeria poses issues of limited local representation.
He added, “Addressing specific issues or concerns relevant to Nigeria takes a longer time and is less effectively handled due to distance and potential cultural or regulatory gaps.
“The lack of proximity also results in slower responses to user complaints, regulatory inquiries, or content moderation issues specific to Nigeria. Also missed economic opportunities as these platforms typically employ a diverse range of professionals, from technical roles to customer support, content moderation, marketing, legal, and managerial positions.’’
Mr Nwoko said the absence of the offices therefore means missed opportunities for job creation, technology transfer, and contributions to the Nigerian economy through taxes and partnerships.
He said that the absence of the social media offices in the country poses difficulty resolving legal or regulatory issues pertaining to content, data privacy, or user rights.
The lawmaker therefore called on the ministries of communication and digital economy, and foreign affairs to engage actively with the multinational social media platforms to encourage the establishment of offices in Nigeria.
He said that the potential economic benefits, job creation, and the enhancement of local engagement from establishing the offices in the nation could not be over-emphasised.
Mr Nwoko urged NITDA to monitor compliance with existing regulations requiring online platforms to register and open offices in Nigeria, and ensure that social media platforms adhere to the requirements for the benefit of Nigerian users and the economy.
He called on the Nigerian Communication Commission to collaborate with relevant stakeholders and develop guidelines or incentives that encourage social media platforms to establish offices in Nigeria.
He also stressed the need for the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Services to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of the benefits of having social media platform offices in Nigeria.
He said the committee should also explore potential legislative measures that could incentivise or regulate their establishment.
The lawmaker called on the Senate committees on communication, foreign affairs, media and public affairs and other pertinent committees to periodically review the progress made in engaging the social media platforms and report back to the Senate for evaluation and further legislative actions. (NAN)