Under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru El-Rufai used social media to devastating effects. As the politician with the largest Twitter following at the time, El-Rufai fired salvos, dished criticisms, shared opinions and propaganda freely on his page. Most importantly he cultivated a following that was a fertile base for his subsequent campaign and election as Kaduna governor.
Social media for crisis: On Wednesday, while receiving the new commander of Operation Safe Haven, a military task force in Kaduna, the governor said this: “There is need to curtail the emerging trend of using social media to create crisis in the country. I think collectively we have to fight it and discourage those behind it by arresting and prosecuting them.“
The social media El-Rufai: As stated earlier, before becoming governor, El-Rufai used his social media page freely and was never arrested by the former administration. It’s important to highlight some of the comments he freely made on his pages without getting arrested so they could be referred to when he begins arresting social media users for “creating crisis”.
- Sniper list: Without any evidence, El-Rufai made this claim – “I am number seven on the GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) sniper list, so I will only worry when GMB (General Muhammadu Buhari), Asiwaju (Tinubu), Amaechi, Akande, etc, are killed,” he tweeted. Considering the following of some of the people he listed there, the tweet could easily have created crisis.
- GEJ sponsored Boko Haram: Several times El-Rufai accused Goodluck Jonathan of sponsoring Boko Haram to cover corruption, again without evidence. He said whenever corruption in the Jonathan government was to be exposed, the former president ordered Boko Haram to attack, “to change the attention of the masses on the Boko Haram’s activities rather than anxiously waiting to protest or sue the government for corruption.” In response to a Twitter follower who asked him if there was hope for Nigeria, he said, “no hope in the short term with GEJ and Boko Haram in partnership.”
- Kill a Fulani, take a loan: Here’s what El-Rufai freely said in July 2012 on his Twitter handle: “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.”
- Genocide: In 2014 after an Army attack on Shiites led to the killing of some Shiites, El-Rufai wrote this: “Genocidal Jonathanian Army kills again.” It is important to note that the Shiites have suffered even greater persecution under the current government at the federal and state levels with thousands of Shiites killed and the leader of the group still in custody despite court orders.
- Snapshot: Here is a snapshot of the typical way El-Rufai used social media outside government:
From social media to Government House: Through all these and many more “incitements”, Gov. El-Rufai was never arrested or prosecuted. Rather he contested and won elections, displacing an incumbent. Before he starts arresting, he may want to do the El-Rufai test: “This thing I want to arrest someone for, is it something I took delight in doing before I had the power to arrest?”