Nigeria: Between Twitter and Crowwe


By Jimoh Oladipupo, International Liaison Personnel, Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (RSV), Nigerian Section of the RCIT. 25th June, 2021.




After the ban on Twitter in Nigeria only a thin crust of observers indicated that the outcry of Western governments over the ban far outweighs any form of concern they might have shown on the epidemic of killings and kidnappings across Nigeria. Now shocking revelations emerge that the Federal government has funded to the tune of 128 million naira a new social media cum streaming application to replace transnational giants like Facebook and Twitter.


The ill-fated app Crowwe ended up getting removed from the most widely used online app store, Playstore and the Instagram handle of its developer, Adamu Garba, deleted shortly before. As new developments unfold we see that these recent events are but a tussle between the Nigerian ruling class and their age-old masters the Western Powers. The former tries to break free, protecting and promoting the interests of the “home” bourgeoisie while the latter fights to maintain the supremacy of its exported finance capital.


Not that this is the first time the Nigerian government is funneling millions into privately owned businesses and projects of friends and family, in fact the history of subsequent administrations since independence is replete with such scandals. Albeit this time the Nigerian ruling class outrightly opposes the interests of its neo-colonial masters from the West with an audacity rarely seen in its history. Even cases of multinationals of the 70’s and 80’s like Leventis and Kingsway faced liquidation as a result of the free fall of the Nigerian economy partly as a result of the neo-liberal freshbakes from World Bank and IMF. In contrast, there is a direct attempt to place certain part of the economy in the hands of the national bourgeoisie. This is consistent with the decline of the world imperialist hegemon, the US which goes hand in hand with the current period of capitalist catastrophe.


Moreso this growing discord between Western imperialism and the Nigerian government has an important facet in the dynamics of the national question. While the Nigerian ruling class which is dominated by the northern oligarchy embarks on a conquest to make Nigeria its caliphate but Western imperialism led by the US has no interest in going that far.


While both agree on the domination of the south by the north the major disagreement is on the form and extent of that domination. That is why major blows have been dealt in this tussle by the Fulani faces which lead the northern oligarchs first Aliko Dangote, then Adamu Garba.


So the condemnation by the US, UK and other Western governments is only because of their business and geopolitical interests. However there is a third force that must survive independently of these two, this force pressured Twitter to delete the chauvinist post of president Buhari and gave negative ratings on Playstore to Crowwe so that it was pulled down. This force between the Nigerian political elite and the big tech companies owned by world powers are the masses.




Big Tech Moves South




In recent months Twitter and other big tech companies have announced plans to set up branches in Africa and Nigeria has been on top spots for this consideration. Alas, two big tech companies have announced that their first “touch downs” will be elsewhere to the dismay of many Nigerians.


While the increasing refusal to choose Nigeria as a base for Africa shows the worsening relationship between the Western powers and the Nigerian power elite, the trend has deep roots in the nature of imperialism which causes a tremendous migration of big corporations to the global south and with it a gigantic rise in the urban working class in those southern nations.


But this, in any case, is not equal to an increased standard of living for the local population. On the contrary, the opposite is always true. As an example, the history of the big oil transnationals in Nigeria is that of super exploitation, environmental degradation, penury, unemployment etc., for the inhabitants of the Niger Delta. Fuel prices has become a source of inconvenience even though Nigeria is the 7th largest exporter of crude oil.


Thus the aim of such multinationals including big tech like Twitter and Google is super-exploitation by gaining extraordinary profits from cheap labour and not the development in that country. Another example is are the mines in Central Africa where child labour is put to use. Young Africans must not wrangle over which country this or that multinational has chosen to start super-exploitation from but must fight for home based industries under popular control.




Way Forward




It is impossible for a neo-colony to move out of servanthood like the Nigerian power elite now attempts without the help of, say, another rival world power. That is why the Nigerian government has turned to China for typical firewall on social media, another reflection of the fall of the US as the number one Great power with the major contender for this role being China.


China’s rise is consistent with a decadent stage in capitalism in which the neo-liberal model cannot work. Rather only under Bonapartism and chauvinism where democratic rights are attacked can capitalism survive in this period. Not only the Nigerian but the global bourgeoisie is following the example of China and Russia as the main alternative to escape this period of crises unscathed. This is the major factor which engendered the social media bill.


Twitter is already in talks with the Nigerian government and may bend to a version of operation that smothers free speech as its sole aim is to reap profits. Twitter cannot be allowed to be run by Jack Dorsey or its terms and conditions as many Nigerian intellectuals claim but by the dictates of the masses.


Unban Twitter! No to Crowwe! Nationalise the IT Sector under Workers and Popular Control! Down with the Social Media Bill! All Regulations on Social Media must be based on Popular Opinion on the respective Apps!


For the Right of Ethnic Nationalities to increased Autonomy and Determination of Their Economic Future!


Expropriate the Billionaire Corporations! And Nationalise them under the democratic control of Workers and Poor!




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