When I saw Twitter CEO Jack E. Dorsey tweet on October 14, 2020, “Donate #Bitcoin to help #EndSARS,” I knew he would eventually face the Nigerian government. No government in the world would offer to back him up to donate to a movement that is shaking the foundations of his power.
From the point of view of the Nigerian government, the founder of the technology giant has contributed to the escalation of the internal crisis in the country, using his huge global opportunity to protest for the protesters, who chanted not only “EndSARS” but “Buhari must go” in the streets of Lagos. “There are a million and one respectable votes for the government to respond to, but the current Nigerian government has not found one.
Thus, on June 2, when Twitter deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet about the civil war and threats of violence in southeastern Nigeria in the 1960s, the Nigerian government was quick to respond. On June 4, the Ministry of Information announced the termination of the social media platform in the country.
Do not make a mistake. Buhari’s deleted tweet was the culmination of the Nigerian government’s Twitter outrage, not incitement. His real problem with the platform is his status as the most prominent tool in the civil assassination of the ousted Buhari government. This led to the #EndSARS protest, arguably Nigeria’s most organic protest in its recent history.
Of course, that protest could not have taken place without Twitter. It was the platform on which victims of police brutality shared their suffering at the hands of black men by the infamous Special Robbery Squad (SARS). After spending days in a police cell, in a secret prison, I knew most of these stories were true.
In early October 2020, news of harassment of Nigerian youth by SARS officers, including the killing of a young man, sparked outrage on Twitter, causing outrage across the country. This led to a steady stream of similar attempts shared by the victims, which ignited public outrage, prompting many to take to the streets demanding the dissolution of SARS.
Nigeria’s biggest revealing secret about the protest was that the government hired bandits to attack, infiltrate or discredit the protesters. It is reported that state agents made great efforts to cover up the deaths and injuries from the October 20 military offensive, which thwarted the protest movement.
Eight months after the end of the tour, Twitter remains the only platform where these events are regularly reviewed, sometimes on the 20th of the month, but many times for no apparent reason. Twitter remains a thorn in the side of the Nigerian government, a lasting reminder of the blood shed at Lekki Tollas Plaza in Lagos on October 20, 2020.
Speaking on Twitter shortly after Bukhari deleted his tweet, Information Minister Lai Mohammed accused social media of “funding #EndSARS protesters.” He also criticized Twitter for failing to delete tweets provoked by Biafra separatist (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu, who called for an independent state (Biafra) in southeastern Nigeria.
But Mohammed ignored the fact that the public was widely reporting on Buhari’s tweet. Moreover, Qano’s separatist tweets are nothing compared to the weight of a president who threatens citizens with the attitude they have taken during the civil war over genocide committed by people in southeastern Nigeria.
Buhari’s government presumably exists with a people’s mandate. Law exists because of government failures. Therefore, both sides can not be blamed for the same levels of public responsibility. The fact that this government cannot see the split of Buhari’s tweet is quite worrying.
As for IPOB, it is a homemade problem. Twitter simply serves as an amplifier of growing complaints. Many of those who reported Buhari’s insulting tweet have no sympathy for the IPOB, but they are concerned about the government’s obsession with Kanu and his people over the more obvious, destructive threats to Nigeria’s existence.
In 2017, the Buhari government forced the army to declare the IPOB an “armed terrorist group” in violation of the country’s Terrorism Act, which stipulates that only a judge can make that statement before acting in accordance with the law. Four years later, it has not yet mustered the courage to declare militants from herd communities as terrorist groups, despite their 2015 crackdown. According to the Global Terrorism Index as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world after Boko Haram, ISIS and al-Shabab. ,
A few days ago, in a town in southwestern Nigeria, militants killed at least 25 people and razed houses, shops and palaces, but they are not terrorists yet, as Bohari was clearly biased against shepherds because he was one. Bandits threaten northern Nigeria; They have abducted about a thousand people since December, and their unofficial spokesman, Sheikh Abu Bakr Gum, often burns their image in the media. Murderers and kidnappers are not terrorists for the Nigerian government yet.
Minister Mohammed’s assertion that Twitter has become a platform for “activities capable of disrupting Nigeria’s corporate existence” is unbelievable. The biggest threat to Nigeria is the lack of inspiring governance.
Nigerians are hungry. Naira continues to weaken. People’s purchasing power is declining. Unemployment is biting. There is a lack of quality health services. Cattle breeders, bandits and militants kill people with impunity.
Solve these problems և watch the Canon disappear. No one will listen to him if they have food on their table. No one will join the June 12 protests, which some activist groups are calling for to protest the ban on Twitter if they were healthy, profitable workers. June 12 is a significant day in the history of Nigeria as it was the day of the most free and fair elections in Nigeria in 1993. The result was overturned by the then dictatorial regime of Ibrahim Babangida.
Good governance is the top secret of Nigeria’s corporate existence. Twitter, which Buhari used in 2015 to call on Nigerians to condemn the failure of Jon Onathan’s government, can not suddenly become a problem in 2021. He says that the remaining two years of his tenure can be considered accelerated waste.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.