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Nigeria, Twitter agreement risks collapse over global restructuring

By Adeyemi Adepetun
08 November 2022   |   4:30 am
The agreement reached by the Federal Government and management of micro-blogging platform, Twitter, about 10 months ago, may be heading for the rocks, following the recent acquisition by world’s richest man, Elon Musk...

The Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco, California on November 4, 2022. – Half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees were laid off on November 4, an internal document showed, as new owner Elon Musk began a major revamp of the troubled company. “Roughly 50 percent of the workforce will be impacted,” said a questions and answer email seen by AFP that was sent to Twitter employees who lost their jobs following last week’s mammoth $44 billion takeover. (Photo by Samantha Laurey / AFP)

• Micro-blogging platform sacks Africa’s team, Musk may scrap it
• Firm failed to open Nigerian office in Q1
• Twitter recalls some workers yesterday
• Facebook tipped to axe thousands of staff

The agreement reached by the Federal Government and management of micro-blogging platform, Twitter, about 10 months ago, may be heading for the rocks, following the recent acquisition by world’s richest man, Elon Musk, who has fired many employees, including top management staff of the firm in a major global shakeup.

   
Those sacked include the African team, based in Accra, Ghana, that was very instrumental and strategic to the operations in Nigeria.
Recall that on January 12, after 222 days and economic losses of about N546.5 billion, Federal Government lifted the ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.
   
FG had announced the suspension of Twitter operations on June 4, 2021, after the social media giant deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari for “violation of the company’s abusive behaviour policy.”
  
By June 5, 2021, the suspension was effected by telecommunications companies as Nigerians woke up to a Twitter shutdown across all platforms. Part of the agreements reached between the two parties, according to a statement issued by FG in January, included that “Twitter is committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022.
  
“The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.
   
“Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities. The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.
  
“Also, Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law. Twitter has agreed to enroll Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals. The Partner Support Portal provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules.

“At the same time, the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws. Taken together, these represent a comprehensive compliance apparatus.
   
“Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.”
  
But almost 10 months into the agreement, checks by The Guardian showed that instead of a full-fledged office in Nigeria by Q1, 2022, Twitter operated the Nigerian arm through its African office, situated in Accra, Ghana.
   
It couldn’t be confirmed as of press time if the micro-blogging platform had eventually registered with the CAC.  A government source told The Guardian that there appears to be no date yet regarding the implementation of the agreement reached earlier.

   
Meanwhile, a very close source monitoring development around Twitter, following the takeover by Musk, told The Guardian that feelers from the U.S-based firm showed that the African arm might be scrapped completely.
   
According to him, the state of things appears really dicey with the African team. “Mails sent to them are not being responded to. Majority of them have been suspended. Nobody is ready to respond to anything because they don’t know what the next line of Musk could be.”  
   
Last week, an unsigned company-wide email braced up Twitter’s 7,500 employees for potential job cuts and instructed them to vacate the office and await emails that would decide their fate.
  
“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce,” the email reads.

“We recognise that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”

  
The email said that by 9:00a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, November 4, laid-off employees and unaffected employees would receive another email titled ‘Your Role at Twitter’ via their personal emails and work email respectively.
  
Employees at Twitter’s Africa office, who received the Friday email through their personal emails are still confused about the status of their employment as the emails say they are suspended.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this suspension does not mean your employment has been terminated,” a part of the email reads. One employee called this layoff “stylish” and called out Musk for “coming for our jobs like the second coming of Jesus, in our sleep and like a thief in the night.”
  
However, on Monday, there were reports that Twitter had reached out to dozens of employees, who lost their jobs and asked them to return. Bloomberg reported that some of those, who are being asked to return, were laid off by mistake, according to two people familiar with the moves. Others were let go before management realised that their work and experience may be necessary to build the new features Musk envisions, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.

IN a related development, Facebook-parent Meta Platforms is rumoured to have begun preparations to massivey cut jobs later this week, days after a cull at social media peer, Twitter, and in the face of shareholder pressure for big changes at the business.
   
The Wall Street Journal described the expected cuts at Meta Platforms as being widespread, predicting it could impact many of the company’s 87,000 employees and be more severe than other recent job culls in the U.S. technology sector.
   
Cuts at the company would come as little surprise given comments made by Meta Platforms CFO, David Wehner, in its Q3,2022 earnings statement, where he flagged forthcoming ‘efficiency’ measures, including its headcount.
   
In June, Meta Platforms also reportedly lowered a previously announced target of hiring 10,000 engineers across 2022. The latest revelation comes as Meta Platforms continues to pump cash into developments intended to make it a driving force in the nascent metaverse, which has had significant impact on the company’s bottom line.