By Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, OFR, Ph.D.
The most trending issue of the moment involves Twitter’s deletion of President Buhari’s threats to some Nigerians whom he described as “many people misbehaving today were too young to remember the deaths and destruction from the civil war “.
He then threatened, “those of us who went through the war will treat them in the language they understand”. INTERPRETED: “we shall give them the ‘death and destruction’ from the civil war” because “that is the language they understand”. Shocked and angry Nigerians rose up in unison to condemn this brazen act of a president publicly threatening his own citizens with genocide.
Twitter through which the incendiary and inflammatory words were uttered was equally not amused at all. It reacted by promptly polling down the offensive and provocative words. It also suspended Buhari’s account for 12 hours. The Twitter social media company said the post violated its ‘abusive behaviour’ policy. As expected, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed moaned, contending that Buhari had every right to “express his dismay at violence being perpetrated by a banned organization”.
Lai accused Twitter of bias, double standards and support of the looting and destruction of public and private properties during the End SARS protests last year. When such “happened on the capitol, it became insurrection. You see, we are not going to be fooled by anybody”. Lai wondered why Twitter did not also act against other Nigerians who had also stringently encouraged attacks on symbols of authority, such as Police Stations, Correctional centres; kill Policemen warders, etc. Everyone knew he was referring to IPOB, the influential South East-based organisation clamouring for Self-determination. Nigerians are now used to this government being intolerant of plurity of views or critisms. When you criticize them for fighting corruption lopsidedly, they respond by saying “corruption is fighting back”. Such simplistic illogicality! I am particularly disturbed about the president’s banal overreaction, because he has neither banned, nor ever reacted with such vehemence or threats against the killer terrorist squad of Boko Haram, which is rated one of three deadliest terrorist groups in the world; and against ravaging armed bandits, vicious kidnappers and different murderous squads that have had a free rein on Nigeria, turning Nigeria into a sprawling field of blood bath.
The President did not only overreact, his action actually showed his great disconnect with the people he was elected to govern. He can only beguile some die-hard loyalists by playing victimhood when his actions in the last six years signpost an uncaring and indifferent president who has since lost touch with his electors. What did u expect Lai Mohammed to say? Go against his president’s utterances even if offensive and insensitive to the people’s feelings? He would never dare! Like Hitler’s Goebel, Lai is paid to carry out propaganda and defend the president, the Federal Government and their actions, at all cost no matter how oppressive, illegal and inane such defence is.
How can Buhari be belly-aching over Nigerians’ reactions to his poor governance style when, as Commander-in-chief, he has lost grip of governance, especially on security, economy and corruption matters. Recall that these constituted the tripodal linchpin that propelled Buhari to the presidency He has failed woefully on all of them. And you didn’t expect reactions from citizens being mauled down every day by a vicious Army of occupation that cannot take on Boko Haram, armed bandits and kidnappers? What manner of president is this? I cannot understand. Or, can you?
That Twitter closed down President Buhari’s account is to me no big deal. It is a business organisation that regulates how its products are used. It has the right to punish or delete any erring subscriber. If it could happen to President Donald Trump, the then loquacious and narcistic because President of the greatest democracy in the world (the USA), when he instigated a mob to descend on the Capitol in January this year, why not our President who is actually threatening his own citizens with violence and death?
Here is a President we have not seen for years empathising or sympathising with beleaguered Nigerians brutally maimed, raped, violated and murdered in their homes, farms, or the roads, schools, markets, offices, mosques and churches, suddenly coming out of his cocoon to threaten his own citizens with fire and brimstone, for merely agitating for freedom, liberation and independence from neocolialism. It is simply incredible! Let president Buhari be told clearly that asking for self-determination is a right recognised by the UNO, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other international instruments.
Buhari should let Nigerians be, at least to breath the (God-given) air of freedom, even if he can’t help, protect, defend or feed them. Nigerians can’t wait to see the end of his last two years in office. Or, can you?
General Buhari’s inciting and highly unpresidential tweet is a most unfortunate war mongering and a clear admission that he has failed abysmally to address Nigeria’s mounting problems which have leapt geometrically since he became President. When a President resorts to scare-mongering and unorthodox arm-twisting tactics against his own citizens, threatening them with conquest, bloodbath and genocide, then you know he has run out of all ideas and has become desperate. I don’t believe in heaping the blame on his assumed rabble rousing social media handlers as many are wont to do because they believe Buhari cannot manage his twitter handles.
Harry Truman, a former American President, said “the buck stops here”. Buhari cannot make other Nigerians, including his personal aids bear the brunt of his inefficiency and get them suffer his headache by proxy. His presidency will forever be judged as Buhari’s presidency, for good or for bad. And he has just two years left of his lack-luster and highly clannish reign as a dictator and an unfeeling Emperor Nero.
Since President Buhari appears tired of Nigerian citizens that he sought to govern in three earlier failed attempts (and even wept openly), he has one option: dissolve the Nigerian people and elect or appoint another of his choice.