President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said on Monday that the president is now more determined than ever to rid the country of “artificial divisions that are impeding national cohesion and growth.”
The Buhari administration has been plagued by widespread discontent, with secessionist agitations rising in the South-East and South-West.
The agitations, which have been led by the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, and proponents of the Oodua Nation, have mostly been motivated by alleged injustices against some parts of the country and evident favoritism of the president’s region in the distribution of federal benefits.
Mr Shehu, appearing on state-run broadcaster NTA, believes that the regime’s adversary is the outlawed microblogging site Twitter, which is used to spew hate messages and endanger Nigeria’s business survival.
“I think in the last few days, we are seeing a firmer determination by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle artificial divisions that are standing in the way of national cohesion and progress of the country,” Mr Shehu said.
“As I said, Twitter is one of them, but from the pronouncement of the president, in the interview he did on Arise TV and the one on NTA here, the speech he gave in Lagos and the broadcast he gave, I think they are suggestive of the fact that the growing heat in the country must not continue.”
Since the government announced the suspension of Twitter activities in Nigeria, the decision has been met with harsh criticism both locally and globally. Many citizens accused the president of infringing on citizens’ right to free speech and depriving them of their primary source of income.
With over 30 million users in Nigeria, Twitter is not only a social networking site, but also a venue for Nigerians to communicate their thoughts on national issues and build social cohesion.
But, in justifying the ban, Mr Shehu claimed that it was the proper method in ensuring that the country’s “rising heat” was put to an end.
The decision, according to the presidential adviser, also reflects the current administration’s willingness to address challenges that endanger Nigeria’s peaceful coexistence.
Meanwhile, the Buhari dictatorship has been extensively chastised for gross human rights violations, increasing insecurity and the economy, corruption, and nepotism, among other things.