President Muhammadu Buhari as a “kind bully” (apology to Femi Adesina) has bared his dictatorial fangs recently by banning or suspending indefinitely the operations of the popular global microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria. Nigeria, contrary to what Adesina, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, believes, does not need the combination of General Buhari and
President Buhari. Whether as a General or President Buhari has proven himself to be a failure.
According to the shocking statement emanating from the office of the Minister of Information and Culture the Federal Government cited “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as a basis to shut out permanently Twitter. Twitter enjoys a large following in Nigeria given the mobile young generation the country boasts of.
Besides, the statement equally “directed the National Broadcasting Commission to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria”. Whatever that meant but suffice to say here that Nigeria has scored another low in the eyes of the civilized world. If this directive did not violate Sections 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution then trouble lies ahead.
Days prior to the extreme decision primarily aimed at stifling freedom of expression the embattled President had incurred the wrath of the American social media giant following a reckless ‘genocidal’ comments he posted on its platform. He was openly threatening those clamouring for self-governance or glorified secessionists.
Buhari had gracelessly reminded them of the Biafran war and how those of them that fought in it went through hell for three years to keep the nation one. Following complaints by some concerned Nigerians, at home and abroad, who read connotations into the ominous outburst the Twitter management acted swiftly by taking down the offensive tweet.
Even the megalomaniacal former President of the United States, Donald Trump, had suffered worse fate following the storming of the Capitol in January by his partisan followers as Congress was in full session to validate the controversial victory of President Joe Biden in last year November’s presidential poll. Trump was banned indefinitely from using and abusing Twitter to foster his political ambition.
And just recently breaking news had it that Facebook had moved against Trump banning him from using the platform for two years. Censoring Trump (then) and Buhari now could be said to be in order. The ‘genocidal’ tweet in question violated Twitter’s regulations. No leader should be allowed to use Twitter to incite a mob or threaten his people no matter the circumstances.
If there is justice and equity in Nigeria then Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho would not have been thrown up to champion the cause of their respective peoples. If Buhari leads responsibly by being fair and just to every region, religion and ethnic group then no one should be complaining of marginalisation or inequity. If Nigeria is working for all of us then the Igbos and Yorubas would not want to go their seperate ways.
Twitter is no respecter of personalities. It respects and encourages freedom of expression and the concomitant fertilisation of ideas in its best tradition and standard. But it applies sanctions whenever necessary.
By reaching the draconian abhorrent decision to ban Twitter from our national space Buhari has demonstrated yet again his primitiveness and lawlessness. With that we are faced with a creeping loading dictatorship that could culminate in the shrinking of the social media space, gagging of the independent press and criminalisation of free speech. We must resist this with determination!
Buhari has never hidden his disdain for the media or free speech. Taciturn and reclusive in a civilised digital age this dictator from Daura has continued to be a source of embarrassment to Nigeria. Apart from setting the federal house of commotion he met on fire he is now trying to use coercion to put down every agitation for a better society.
Recently a secret memo surfaced online in which the corrupt Attorney-General of the (Fulani) Federation (AGF), and Minister of (In)Justice, Abubakar Malami, was advocating strongly for his principal to impose a state of emergency in order to crush the opposition. He urged Buhari to suspend Nigeria’s Constitution and enforce martial law citing Chapter IV of the Constitution.
We are now confronted with a throwback to the dark days of the Jackboot. All values hitherto held dear are under assault. The days, weeks and months ahead could be a defining or redifining moments in our tortured trajectory as a nation-state. We shall survive Buharism as we survived Babangidaism. And the gory era of the late despotic madman from Kano, Sani Abacha.
There is tension everywhere. And the President does not have what it takes to take the nation back from the brink. In the south-east there is an undeclared Biafran war being waged on the fringes. The so-called unknown gunmen are running berserk attacking critical federal institutions and facilities.
And to deal with the violence and terrorism the Buhari administration has gone for broke intimidating and molesting the innocent. Folks are being dehumanized, framed up as ESN operatives and arrested and thrown into gulags. Even churches are not spared of the brutal clampdown.
Somewhere in Enugu state recently some church attendants were marched out of the church by heavily-armed security forces and taken to unknown destination. They were accused falsely of belonging to IPOB or being ESN agents! It is now dangerous to be a young man in the east. Most people live dangerously as war looms in the horizon.
Biafra could be said to be an oriental ‘paradise’, our ‘paradise’! A land metaphorically flowing with milk and honey; a blessed land where natural resources are in abundance; a land of the rising sun inhabited by great enterprising souls. Yet there is trouble in this ‘paradise’ presently. But whether it is now a ‘paradise’ lost is left in the womb of time and circumstances.
Upon realisation, however, this ‘paradise’ could rival Dubai, Hong Kong and Japan in terms of economic and infrastructural greatness. Could this be the reason for its delay? The will is there, the power is there, the human resources are there and the sophistication is there. Above all, God is there in the detail!
Biafra, as an idea whose time has come, ought to be realised by negotiation and referendum rather than war. The late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu tried war but failed. Yet nothing proves that fifty years after, if he were to be alive and undertook that horrible path again, success would not be his.
However, in our reckoning war cannot solve the problem but would make things worse. Let reason prevail!