From Magnus Eze, Enugu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Okwe Obi, Abuja Abuja and Chukwudi Nweje
Applause and condemnations, yesterday, trailed Twitters decision to delete President Muhammadu Buhari’s civil war tweet.
In the tweet shared on Tuesday, Buhari spoke about the civil war experience and threatened to deal with those “bent on destroying” Nigeria through “insurrection.”
Buhari had in series of tweet on Tuesday via is verified Twitter handle @MBuhari tweeted: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian civil war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Twitter rules prohibit a number of actions from users, including violence, abuse and hateful conduct.
Following several complaints, Twitter deleted the tweet, stating: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.”
Reacting to the development, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, accused Twitter of double standard. He said while the social media giant had conveniently ignored inciting tweets by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and his cohorts, displaying the same biases it did during the EndSARS protest last year, where government and private properties were looted and set on fire but finds Buhari’s tweet offensive.
He alleged Twitter’s role is suspect and Nigeria would not be fooled.
“Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concern about a situation, he is free to express such views. Now, we should stop comparing apples with oranges. If an organisation is proscribed, it is different from any other which is not proscribed.
“Two, any organisation that gives directives to its members, to attack police stations, to kill policemen, to attack correctional centres, to kill warders, and you are now saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that? We are the ones guilty of double standards. I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organisation, a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria, and will direct his members to attack the symbols of authority, the police, the military, especially when that organisation has been proscribed. By whatever name, you can’t justify giving orders to kill policemen or to kill anybody you do not agree with.”
According to the minister, Buhari’s comment cannot be compared to the directive by Kanu to his followers to kill soldiers, policemen and burn down government facilities.
“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very, very suspect. Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? Has it? The same Twitter during the EndSARS protests that was funding EndSARS protesters, it was the first to close the account of former president of US, Trump. And you see, when people were burning police stations and killing policemen in Nigeria during EndSARS, for Twitter, it was about the right to protest. But when a similar thing happened on the Capitol, it became insurrection.
“You see, we are not going to be be fooled by anybody. We have a country to rule and we will do so to the best of our ability. Twitter mission in Nigeria citing those two examples is very suspect. What is their agenda?
“How does Mr. President’s speech that anybody who is destroying infrastructure, who is destroying police offices, who is destroying INEC offices should be ready for the consequences, is that inciting violence?”
However, Former President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike and former second vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Onyekachi Ubani and others hailed Twitters.
Ubani described Buhari’s tweet as hate language.
“The fact that the tweet has been pulled down shows that some of us who said it was wrong of the president to threaten his citizens are justified in our position. I saw that tweet as sensational especially as he was talking to his children and said he will unleash a language they will understand; that is hate language and I’m happy that it has been deleted. What the president needs to do is to say I didn’t mean it. What we need now is to call for a truce and listen to what the people are saying; threats will not solve our problem.”
Adeolu Ogunbanjo, national president, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) said: “I see his (Buhari) choice of words offensive to the younger generation and obviously it is a threat because his words were too open ended and coming. I think he should calm down and look at what Twitter is saying; that you can’t use their medium to be threatening a whole generation of a country. These people he is threatening are supposed to be the ones in charge.”
Jide Awe, chief executive officer of Jidaw Systems Limited said: “The truth is that all social media big tech platforms are private platforms. My assumption is that such actions are taken when a user’s post is deemed to be against the social media platform’s community guidelines and terms. All users agree to those rules when they sign up. Having social media accounts is a choice.
“In view of their reach and influence, many world leaders use these platforms to communicate with their citizens and the world. The global response to posts and tweets is a sign of the power of social media platforms. However, they own their private platforms. On their own, these platforms determine when a user breaks the rules and the actions to take when there is a violation.
“Former US President, Donald Trump had his tweets deleted and received several warnings and “violation” reports on his tweets before he was eventually banned from Twitter.”
Twitter has also been on fire of the president’s utterance. Former Ekiti governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose, @GovAyoFayose, tweeted: “Nigeria is boiling everywhere and all that the president can do is to be threatening genocide up and down? Now that Twitter has dealt with our almighty President Buhari, won’t he “deal” with Twitter too? Like Trump, like Buhari.
“It is obvious that those using the president’s powers for him do not know when and where to stop their power-madness. Regrettably, Twitter may not know that Buhari is not the one operating the handle. Can our president operate android phone not to talk of making genocidal tweets?
“A president who cannot address his own people in time of crisis can certainly not be the one tweeting on the crisis. Twitter should rather hold Garba Shehu, Lie Mohammad and co accountable.”
Senator Shehu Sani @ShehuSani: “The President should talk to us….The President should address us…The President should speak to us….now una don hear am.
Reno Omokri @renoomokri: “Lie Mohammed accuses @Twitter and @Jack of sponsoring
@MaziNnamdiKanu: “How pathetic! When Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, Buharists celebrated. Then, Twitter was not sponsoring IPOB. And you are surprised Twitter chose Ghana over Nigeria?
Dele Momodu Ovation @DeleMomodu: “I had no answer until i saw the video… it was a sad day for those who still have some modicum of belief in project nigeria. The president did not declare war on bandits and herdsmen but was interested in fighting another civil war, and said so openly. That was an all-time low!!”
Notwithstanding the trenchant criticisms, a group, Vanguard for Peace and National Development, backed President Buhari’s vow to crush separatist groups.
Its Executive Director, Mr Ahmed Tijani, in a statement, commended the president for his stance on the agitation
Tijani also enjoined the government to probe alleged alliances between some highly placed politicians with managers of various security agencies in the country.
According to him, Buhari’s zero tolerance for the activities of proscribed groups was evident in his resolve to ensure Nigeria remains an indivisible entity.
He said it had become imperative to investigate true identities of some high-ranking security officers and politicians with proscribed groups.
“We are equally privy to series of secret meetings between some politicians and managers of security outfits in the country.
“As a group of patriots, we cannot afford to keep mute when these types of issues come up,” Tijani said.
But Uwazuruike wondered why Buhari has not threatened Boko Haram, kidnappers and bandits, but was quick to threaten peaceful protesters asking for a referendum.
“I am not surprised, the president acted true to type, he has shown his true colour. He was speaking from his heart, he was not reading a speech. His speech manifests his 97 per cent versus 5 per cent stance. Not long ago in Kaduna, Buhari appealed to armed bandits to release kidnapped university students, Mr President has not threatened the bandits, Boko Haram or kidnappers, he has not threatened bandits and kidnappers in his home state of Katsina, but he found it very convenient to threaten unarmed people asking for a referendum. Most people don’t know that what IPOB is asking for is a referendum, not secession. What President Buhari does not understand is that if a referendum is conducted those opposed to IPOB/ESN may be more. I’m not surprised that he is threatening us. I want to let Mr President know that he may defeat the Igbo but he cannot liquidate us.”
•Igbo, Arewa groups fume
Leading Igbo body, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) condemned what it called the president’s penchant for ethnic profiling, stating that his body language has given impetus to allegation that the violence in the South East was being perpetrated by some imported mercenaries to orchestrate military invasion.
A statement by ADF’s spokesman, Chief Abia Onyike, yesterday, expressed disappointment that instead of fishing out the criminals and making them face the law, president Buhari had rushed to threaten the people of the region.
“It sounds like a message of collective annihilation. Why did he not talk like this when Fulani herdsmen killed hundreds of people in the South East and other parts of Nigeria? He should stop his policy of ethnic profiling in order to save us from genocide.
“There are people who believe that the violence in the South East was imported by mercenaries from outside the zone in order to create an alibi for the military invasion of Igboland. That must be a very wicked plot. Buhari should summon a national conference to restructure/reconstitute Nigeria along the lines of genuine federalism and fiscal federalism.
“We need autonomy for the regions or federating units. Calling out security agencies to invade Igboland and kill people on the streets is not the solution to the current crisis in Nigeria.”
Also, pan-Arewa Socio-political Organisation, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), in a statement by Abdul-Azeez Sulaiman, contended that Buhari’s remark was not only empty but unpresidential, adding that the tweet merely amounted to admission of failure and loss of capacity.
“We find it ridiculous that most parts of the president’s tweet concentrated more attention to infrastructure than on the lives of citizens that are wasted daily with virtually no response from the authorities.
“The President’s revelation that most of those involved in the current agitation for secession are those who have not witnessed the 1967 civil war is a vindication of our position that the only reasonable option to ensure a more secure future is for the Igbo to be allowed to have their wish for a Biafran nation.”
“The fact that the strength of the Igbo agitation rests on youth who are mainly below the ages of 50, with diseased mindsets induced by their forefathers and encouraged by their political, cultural and religious leaders to take up arms against the Nigerian state and Northerners, has rendered the nation’s unity negotiable.
“It is therefore unreasonable for those older Nigerians who are mostly above 70 to insist that the unity of Nigeria is sacrosanct whereas the people executing the dangerous Southeast secession agenda are almost entirely below 50,” he said.