How The Nigerian Senate Almost Redefined Twit Jail By Lanre Olagunju

This administration won’t hesitate to go any length in ensuring that governance looks irritable, dirty and disgusting. I doubt if Nigerians have ever seen such absurdity, hopelessness, corruption and incompetence at this height of grandstanding before. One of the greatest achievements of President Jonathan’s administration or his supposed transformation agenda is its keen ability to add cologne to corruption and generally redefine concepts. Corruption has been redefined. And now the social media term Twit jail which implies that you lose your ability to tweet for a couple of hours once you exceed 100 tweets/hour is about to get a better meaning, as the Nigerian senate seeks to pass a bills that ensures 7-year jail term or a fine of 5million Naira for social media critics or commentators who decide to vex their anger about the hopelessness they see in their own country. I suggest it’s high time we called our seeming democracy something else!

It is in this administration that corrupt pundits graduated into the realms of stealing billions comfortably, and make it look like the best thing since sliced bread, or as if stealing has been included in Moses’ ten commandment. And now it has become very fashionable that even governors kids understand and speak the language so well. It is apparently pointless to think or hope that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration will ever make any tangible progress in fighting corruption. Never.

One would have hoped that more attention seeking issues will be topmost on the mind of the senate, but as the year runs out, they have probably thought it out to look for ways to proof their relevance. And of all the ways to do that, they had to stylishly claim to be passing a law that frowns at Internet fraudsters, who in every sense have drained Nigerians of the little reputation that is left for the nation.

 There’s no point deceiving ourselves. It is evidently clear that social media critics were the main target.

It amazes me that Goodluck Jonathan who Minister for Information, Labaran Maku hypocritically or erroneously referred to as the man who “brought” Facebook to Nigeria during Mr. President’s ‘Facebook’ book launch three years ago, is interested in turning his back against the same tool he relied on for his 2011 media campaign. Probably President Jonathan then didn’t understand that social media could also be a tool for torch lighting and analyzing government’s achievements and failures. Unfortunately, this government has produced more of the latter than former.

This tale, as comic as it sounds, shouldn’t be treated more than another track from the political class’ album of national distraction. The Nigerian government always love to give Nigerians something to discuss, chart and laugh about. It might be a strategy to get Nigerian youths who are mostly unemployed busy. And who knows? That might be an action plan in the transformation agenda in tackling unemployment.

But then, the truth lies in the fact that this administration will definitely go to any length to silence the truth, the democratic licence that gives freedom of speech to Nigerians, Nigerians ability to express their displeasure about the state of anarchy and hopelessness in the nation. If the Premium times’ exclusive report on the arrival of Elbit System officials from Israel is anything to go by, and the report that the Jonathan’s administration will be willing to spend over $40 million on a comprehensive internet spy facility, which will spy on all Nigerians’ online activities, all in the name of national security. If this is true, it will be a big bridge on people’s privacy, it implies that your emails and direct messages can be spied by the Federal Government. And come to think of it, what kind of national security is the Jonathan government trying to protect by opening the country’s entire intelligence gathering to citizens of another country? Is this the kind of security challenge facing the country presently? This administration should just cover its face in shame.

The same government that told ASUU the no money tale, expecting that academicians will go ahead to gulp that hopeless tale hook, line and sinker is now willing to spend a whooping $40 million to track online critics. However, report has it that the manner at which the contract was awarded contravenes the Public Procurement Act of 2007, depicting that this government is essentially about lawlessness.


Lanre Olagunju is an hydrologist turned freelance journalist.  An alumnus of the American College of Journalism, Lanre advocates on several international platforms for the prosperity and absolute well-being of the African continent. He is @Lanre_Olagunju on Twitter

What kind of national security is the Jonathan government trying to protect? Lanre asks