One of the ironies of life is how the people who have little or nothing to offer possess the most fragile egos. Real and perceived slight get the sledgehammer reaction. Massive logs lodged right in their pupils are ignored for the imaginary speck in a neighbour’s eye. It’ll never cease to confound. Yet, it’s a reality, especially where I am from. Terms like “public servant”, “leadership by example” and other sundry overused phrases are fillers for electioneering speeches. What obtains in ‘real life’ is a far departure from that.
Governments who define themselves as a democracy the world over know that open criticism, sometimes bordering on abuse comes with the territory. In their pursuit of political office, they are trained to understand they will be blamed for what they are responsible for and what has nothing to do with them. In other words, they are the sacrificial lamb who receive flak whether a man loses his tyre as a result of a bumpy road or battles infertility.
Government is supposed to be the mature one…god on earth who takes on a fatherly role and does everything he can to ensure peace in his household. Hospitality is also a quality government must possess as they work to attract the courtship of strangers who mean well for their country.
If there was a memo stating the aforementioned, there’s no doubt that the current administration in Nigeria missed it. They not only missed it, but are also not making any effort to request the memo.
The Twitter ban leaves no doubt as to this. And while it was shocking to a lot of people, it shouldn’t have been. We should have foreseen such a move through the antecedents of the man at the helm of affairs and the people he selected as advisers.
I am almost certain the president has never sent out a tweet by himself. Someone does on his behalf; the same person informed him of the deleted tweet and probably advised Mr President to go the route of cancelling the social media platform.
No depth of thought as to the many upsides of the microblogging forum; no consideration for the millions of Nigerians whose only voice are heard via Twitter. No attempt at initiating a roundtable discussion with the owners of the platform who was even in the country not too long ago.
Just a fiat—Twitter has to go and that’s that!
Nothing else screams dictatorship or autocracy like what the Nigerian government has done. It’s what pride does to you—makes you believe you are infallible—even when everything else screams “stop!”
Then again, it has become a pattern for our leaders to not weigh the implications before embarking on a course of action. The flirting with bandits and terrorists; offering them the sort of a care package a top executive would envy. The skewed appointments and nepotism, ditching federal character in the mud and leaving qualified persons from other tribes wondering if they are a part of “One Nigeria.” And the neglect of urgent matters such as insecurity and poor health care to dwell on less important ones such as a deleted tweet.
Worse still, any attempt to draw government’s attention to these anomalies is either met with stoic silence, mockery, or flagrant rejection. So much so that one wonders if our leaders remember they were elected to service; that we the masses are their bosses, and not the other way round.
Because of the bruised ego of one man, about 40 million Nigerians have been denied their right to free speech in a supposed democracy. Many times we are convinced we have seen it all. In our minds, nothing can surprise us anymore about the way the country is run, but you have to applaud the creativity of Nigeria’s political office holders when it comes to this part. They are ingenious; adopting diverse strategies to ensure they never fail to inject the element of shock in their decision making.
Thankfully, Twitter has elected to be the big brother in this case by calling for a discussion on the way forward. Let’s hope some sort of agreement is reached and we can go back to finding solace in the space that allows us to vent our frustrations and enjoy good old banter.