In early June 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter after the platform deleted one of his tweets and temporarily suspended his account. The tweet pertained to Nigerian secessionists and to treating “those who misbehave today” in “the language they will understand,” infringing on Twitter user rules prohibiting content that threatens or incites violence. Despite the ban, many Nigerians still have access to the site using virtual private networks (VPN) and can share their opinion on other apps, like the Indian-based microblogging site, Koo.
The deletion of the tweet is part of a larger conversation around the role of social media in politics and the national conversation. Indeed, in recent years, the world has seen social media platforms like Twitter impact democracy and politics, social movements, foreign relations, businesses, and economies around the world. This can be termed as a misplaced priority.
One of our unfortunate realities as a people is our penchant to place the emphasis – and spend a great deal of the resources we daily complain of not having – on things that are of very little consequence and add no value whatsoever to us besides massaging our ego and giving the impression to all that care to notice that ‘we have arrived’.
This is certainly not the first time you will be reading about this but it is nonetheless an issue that deserves a curious look into. Often, we bury such talk under the ‘no go area’ realms of culture. But we must question cultures that are not beneficial to people and are not in tandem with current realities. Culture is not rigid and must evolve without necessarily encouraging a drop in our values and appreciation of what is right and wrong, and we are called to make this change in our way of life.
We can as well take a closer look at our big weddings parties. So elaborate is the effort we put into forming new homes that the thought of going into one is simply tiring and scary. Not a few people break down health-wise after weddings. And for others, the absence of the resources needed to make such flamboyant show-offs have kept them from stepping up to get married. We find couples who spend much more money on a hall for the wedding reception than they can afford for their house rent. This is besides the many unnecessary expenses on multiple uniforms, ridiculous pre and post-wedding programmes and razzmatazz. And to think of the very lengthy process we go through for marriage; the rounds of traditional rites, the church wedding, another one at the registry and finally thanksgiving.
Speaking of thanksgiving, one concept that is gaining strong ground in recent times is Child Dedication. I agree that every birth is a thing of great joy and should be celebrated, but when such a celebration begins to assume such standards that it now brings pressure to many who ordinarily cannot afford it, it becomes undesirable. Why waste a fortune on such a celebration and then fail to send the very same child to a good nursery school? What is the sense behind denying good food and welfare to your wife and existing children just to celebrate this one new child?
And the list goes on; graduations, promotions, chieftaincy titles, birthdays, and even the release of convicted criminals from jail attract such colourful displays. Key to the perpetuation of this culture of waste is that inordinate desire to show off, even when our economic realities give evidence to the contrary. The cut your cloth according to your size mantra has since lost its meaning around here and, as insignificant as it sounds, this is one of the main reasons why we are where we are as a nation.
The ‘do or die’ approach to life, just so as to have enough resource to throw elaborate parties, ensures not only the perpetuation of crime but of poverty and underdevelopment as well. Imagine if we pay the same attention to our children’s education, or commit similar resources to more worthy causes for both self and societal improvement. Think about this as you begin the new week.