The German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, was racist when he wrote about the ‘inferiority’ of African culture but appeared right about the temperamental and emotional nature of black Africans; a pointed type of sensitivity that revealed itself in the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), when he let his emotions extremely stream out heatedly.
In his targeted tweet, Buhari warned the Igbo people stating that “those misbehaving today” would be “treated in the language they understand.” Buhari was making a reference to the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970 in which more than one million people died. Good God, what a tweet, who does that?
Twitter deleted Buhari’s abusive post, calling it offensive and harsh, for threatening the suspected separatist activists in the South-East. Twitter had only suspended his account for 12 hours.
As if Hegel’s view about the African’s emotionality was right, Buhari and his regime made a quick reactive judgment to suspend Twitter’s operations indefinitely. A big mistake!
The regime claimed that it blocked the microblogging site because it had been used for dissident purposes and criminal activities but most people around the world saw it as a raw enraged response that might have cost grave economic and social consequences to millions of people.
It might have cost lives, especially when vital public organisations like the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had been utilising Twitter to disseminate information about the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the Buharian injunction or suspension, the Twitter account became inactive. I will not be surprised if now or in the future, Buhari as a person and leader does not face court actions to compensate victims of wrongful the suspension.
However, on Wednesday, Buhari lifted the ban on Twitter after seven months. This apparent sentimental reaction to Twitter impacted millions of Internet users in the country and cost the country’s economy more than $1.4 billion, Wow. All because of emotionality! A very costly reaction to a developing economy. Especially at a time when the Nigerian people are experiencing enormous economic hardship and unemployment rate is extremely high.
While the Buhari regime said Twitter agreed to give its officials the capability to take down tweets it considers a threat to Nigeria’s security, well, that was exactly what Twitter did when it deleted the threatening post from Buhari. Just like it did to former American President Donald Trump who repeatedly violated Twitter’s rules until he was permanently suspended from the site and other social media platforms.
The Buhari regime told us that “many agreements had been reached” with the mega social media platform which includes committing to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria, agreeing to appointing a selected country representative to work with the Nigerian government. However, Twitter as part of its global rules to commit to freedom of expression, responded to the restoration of operations in Nigeria, by saying its “…mission in Nigeria and around the world is to serve the public conversation.” In other words, telling Buhari and his regime to expand civic communication.
We have so much disturbing regional and community stresses in Nigeria, so if Twitter can find a way to allow itself to be an added value for commercial and positive engagements, it will be very appreciated.
What Buhari needs to understand is that Twitter has this major rule known as the ‘glorification of violence’ policy, which aims to prevent direct or indirect endorsement of violence that could inspire others to engage in violent expressions and acts.
If in the coming days, weeks, and months, Buhari, as the President of Nigeria, makes the least mistake again and breaks the company’s rules regarding “glorifying violence”, he will get the Trump’ treatment, short-term and even permanent suspension of his account.
Buhari, even if you house Twitter platform’s local office in Aso Villa, the minute you violate their rules as they relate to words of abusive behaviours towards any group in Nigeria including bandits in the North or separatist agitators in the South-East or self-determination groups in the West and Niger Delta, Twitter will discipline you.
Should Twitter deem your words as repeatedly hateful, or promoting violence, your account could permanently under suspension just like that of Trump.
This they will do in a typical American way with impartiality and equal treatment.
They do not give a hoot about needs, feelings, emotions, and the status of the individual, as no one is above rules and must not use the social media to incite violence directly or indirectly.
Trump has been going from court to court, asking judges to force Twitter to restore his account; instead, the courts agreed with the social media megaphone that any company’s punishment for tweet that violates the platform’s rules, regarding potential real-world dangers, such glorification of violence, stands.
Buhari should not allow this to happen to him. In passing, he should tell heads of his MDAs, and their officials that any tweet that is defamatory, shows harassment, malicious to citizens or businesses, grossly deceptive, or offensive towards one’s character, or reveals citizens personal information, or even illegally copies tweets can land them in trouble with Twitter. Remember that I counselled you on this ooo.
As Mr. President is about to leave office in 17 months and return to Daura, Katsina to tend his cattle, Nigerians would like to keep hearing from him on social media, about his agriculture journey. So, there is a need for him to monitor his words and postings on Twitter, whether done by him or his aides and other social media platforms.
Again, Twitter’s policies are designed to make sure that individuals are not inciting violence, and if anybody does that, they must remove them from the service and their policies do not allow people to come back.
I know the unnecessary killings are becoming emotionally distressing but the President and his officials should fight against that Hegelian philosophy regarding Africans’ strong reactions, which could show up as emotional provocations towards Twitter’s rules. No more digital vexation especially the type that will make Buhari so angry again and retaliate by blocking access to social media sites. Stop it! Nigerians, Twitter is back, Hurrah!
Prof Oshodi, an American-based forensic psychologist, wrote in via [email protected]
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