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Buhari’s twitter ban: A misuse of presidential powers

By Ade Ebimomi

Just read a piece by a certain Prince Tony Ogbetere, defending President Mohammadu Buhari over his unilateral ban of Twitter and at the same time, calling those Nigerians against the President, “self-hating sycophants” and “seriously sick”.

For calling Nigerians who are rightfully angry that President Mohammadu Buhari would deprive – in a manner that only dictators do – 300 million Nigerians the use of Twitter (which, by the way, I must remind Chris and all supporters of such a brazen and totally anti-democracy move, is a private company with PRIVATE and INDIVIDUAL contracts with its users/clients), self-hating sycophants and seriously ill, Chris just showed himself to be a shallow-minded fellow and he is the one who is a sycophant to a supposed democratic but blatantly dictatorial President.

He harped on the statement by Twitter that they “don’t know Buhari and they don’t know the country he leads”.

The stark sarcasm in this statement is obviously lost on Chris.

He became so contradictory in his submission when he even quoted the number of Nigerians on Twitter, the amount Twitter makes from Nigerian businesses and especially restating the imbroglio between Twitter and Pastor Chris years ago, and in the same sentence, wanted us to believe Twitter actually “does not know Nigeria”.

That’s laughable.

Does he not know that, apart from the thousands, if not millions, of Nigerians that use Twitter to make money, Twitter also employs hundreds of Nigerian techies in their organization?

Does he not know that our own Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is actually on the Board of Twitter?

Does he know that 2 of Twitters’ top 10 executives are Nigerians?

And that this same Twitter was in the forefront of those who raised money for the #ENDSARS protesters?

Yet, he wants to make us believe that Twitter does not know Buhari or the country he leads.

Chris, I am surprised that you are not intelligent enough to see the sarcasm and the deliberate insult directed specifically at Mohammadu Buhari in that statement – an insult he certainly and unquestionably deserve.

Afterall, the entire world is a witness to how clueless and ridiculous the President has always been, and how undemocratically he has tried to run a democratic set-up.

His latest and last Twitter statement, where he threatened his already scared, scarred and traumatized citizens with more violence and civil war, was a continuation of his highly-publicised irresponsibility, power-drunkenness and unwholesome cluelessness to leadership.

Just as it is with Nigerians, it was too much for Twitter and the international community to take.

And Twitter has a policy that all users signed up for: promotion of violence and threat of any kind goes against the grain of their corporate existence.

It was only natural that they would suspend the account that does that – the ownership of such account is immaterial.

It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the suspension and the accompanying statement were handiworks of Nigerian Twitter executives. It was a legal and very nice way of dissing a President whose dangerous excesses needed to be curtailed.

The right thing for Buhari to have done in that circumstance (if he was pained that a “small” Twitter could control his acts) was to follow in Pastor Chris’ Yookos footstep: get the best techie brains in the country together to come up with and develop a social media platform that would rival, if not better, than Twitter.

But then, of course, we are talking about Mohammadu Buhari here…not Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyetta or Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Ado or Rwanda’s Paul Kagame

Banning 300 million Nigerians from using Twitter was dragging us – with the accompanying gargantuan business losses – into what is purely a private and personal spat he has with a private company.

It was highly irresponsible, abhorrently brazen, regrettably dictatorial, clearly illegal and absolutely teeters on childish presidential tantrum.

He shouldn’t have even contemplated it.

But then, power in the hands of a drunken man is a very dangerous thing; it’s akin to a flying grenade in a room-full of kids, with its pin pulled.

Ade Ebimomi, an Economist and a published author, writes from Abuja, Nigeria.

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