Last week was a harrowing one for Nigerians following perceived vex actions of the Nigerian government which culminated in the banning of Twitter operations in the country.
In our Politics Roundup this week, we looked at Muhammadu Buhari’s banning of Twitter and other top stories in Nigeria politics last week and their implications to the nation’s growth and development.
These stories are significant and should not be forgotten in a hurry.
1. Buhari’s Twitter ban
President Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian Government, on Friday, June 4, 2021, banned the operation of the social media giant, Twitter.
The ban came after Twitter deleted Buhari’s ‘civil war’ tweet, which many Nigerians considered as a war threat to the Igbo people of Nigeria.
“Those misbehaving in certain parts of the country were obviously too young to know the travails and loss of lives that attended the Nigerian Civil War (between 1967-1970). Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand. We are going to be very hard sooner than later,” Buhari had said in the deleted tweet.
Apparently unhappy with the social media giant, the Nigerian government on Friday, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria indefinitely, citing alleged persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The Federal Government’s action against Twitter points to how intolerant the Buhari-led government may have become.
It also shows the level of fear that may have pervaded the government over the rising voices against its perceived failures.
The government seems to be more than ever, determined to employ every measure, regardless of opposition against such measures, to silence dissenting views.
More so, the ‘civil war’ remarks, which gave birth to the Twitter ban, confirms the fears of many that the current administration seems not to care about the consequences of its utterances and actions, notwithstanding the level of tension currently in the country.
2. Adesina’s unfortunate defence
President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Friday, June 4, 2021, said that Nigeria needed a leader with an iron fist like Buhari.
In an article titled ‘I Suddenly Remembered Why I Fell in Love with the President’, Adesina added that Buhari would not allow criminals and insurrectionists from any part of the country to destroy Nigeria.
“The man we fell in love with is of iron and steel, one ready and willing to knock sense into contumacious heads, whipping everyone into line. And being kind to us in the process. A kind bully, if you like the oxymoron.
“What our country needs at this time is iron and steel. An alchemy of GMB (General Muhammadu Buhari) and PMB (President Muhammadu Buhari),” he said.
Adesina’s piece was clearly to justify Buhari’s ‘civil war’ tweet, which angered some Nigerians, who accused him of declaring a second civil war on the South-East people of Nigeria.
Adesina can only be pitied as his job requires that he defends every action and inaction of his principal.
It is just unfortunate that Adesina, a seasoned journalist, said in this 21st century, that what Nigeria needs is a leader with an iron fist like Buhari.
He may as well be asking that Nigeria jettisons democracy and returns to military rule.
3. Pantami’s empty claims
On Thursday, June 3, 2021, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, on Thursday claimed that the Federal Government’s policy mandating Nigerians to obtain a National Identification Number has seen a substantial reduction in incidences of banditry and kidnapping in the country.
The minister, who spoke in Abuja when he gave an account of his stewardship since his appointment in office in 2019, said:
“From the end of September 2019 to 2020, you will discover that even kidnapping and banditry has reduced to the barest minimum. It was a time that hardly can you spend one month or more without hearing about kidnapping.
“The more you come up with policies to make the system effective the more criminals will come up with another strategy to compromise the policies.”
Pantami’s boast is typical of most Nigerian politicians who often make claims without evidence to back them up.
The evidence Nigerians have is that within the same period Pantami claimed that kidnappings have reduced is when Nigerians recorded an unprecedented number of abductions of school children, including students of higher institutions.
It is important Nigerian politicians stop making wild claims and thinking that citizens are fools.
4. Mailafia on Nigeria’s spiritual split
On Friday, June 4, a former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, said that Nigeria had already broken up spiritually.
Mailafia, who spoke when he featured on a PUNCH Live interview programme, warned that if some drastic actions are not taken, the physical manifestation of the break-up would soon become evident.
Asked for his view on the secessionists’ calls in different parts of the country, he responded, “Do you want an honest answer or do you want a political answer? The honest answer is that the country is already broken up spiritually.
“Talk to any Nigerian. Do Nigerians feel that they are part of the same country right now? We have become strangers to each other.”
Considering the level of secessionist agitations in the country, it is clear different groups in the country are no more interested in remaining in the union called Nigeria.
So, Mailafia only stated the obvious. Urgent and sincere efforts are needed now more than ever to still have Nigeria remain as one entity.
5. Obasanjo’s lament
On Thursday, June 3, 2021, former President Olusegun Obasanjo lamented that Nigeria is currently flowing with bitterness and sadness.
Speaking when he received a book titled, ‘The Man, The General and The President,’ written by Femmy Carrena, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, the Obasanjo said:
“My prayer is that all of us will have something to contribute to making this country what God has created it to be – a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Right now, it is a land flowing with bitterness and sadness, that is not what God wants this country to be.
“We must change the narrative, we must talk to ourselves in the civilised language. There is nowhere you go in this country that you will not see geniuses in any section of the country. So, why should we look down on ourselves?”
Obasanjo only stated what is obvious for all to see. With the raging insecurity in the country occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram, bandits, killer Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, unknown gunmen, there could be no better word to qualify the situation in Nigeria than ‘a land flowing with bitterness and sadness.’
With the growing secessionist agitations in the country, serious national dialogue is needed now more than ever in order to change the narrative.