Alhaji Lia Ahmed, the country’s veteran opposition spokesman was bristling with indignation this Saturday morning at an interactive session with a select group of newspaper editors.
The setting was in September 2014, months away from what many had predicted as a do or die election.
“Even if this man did not have the opportunity of wearing shoes in his primary school days, must he drag all of us back with this abominable decision,” Alhaji Ahmed asked in pointed reference to the decision of the President Lucky Yohna administration to stop the circulation of the United States based magazine, The Tweet!”
“This president must know that all of us here are subscribers to The Tweet, not necessarily out of choice, but as a matter of obligation to keep ourselves informed,” he chipped in.
Firing on, he said, “Despite pictures of President Yohna in the past flaunting his copy of The Tweet, we know he does not read it, it is all part of a smokescreen to give the impression that he is used to the fastest channel in the information superhighway.”
The decision of the Yohna administration to proscribe The Tweet had shaken the entire country especially given the fact that the medium had grown to become the most prominent medium for information for business, politics, culture and so.
The administration had cited the failure of The Tweet to register itself in the country. But beyond that, everyone also pointed at the decision of the editors of The Tweet to yank off an opinion piece allegedly authored by President Yohna for breaching its editorial policies.
Alhaji Lia Ahmed, who had practised as a lawyer for years before the advent of democracy when he became principal secretary to the first civilian governor of the country’s most commercial province, was quick to draw in his legal acumen into the matter.
“You know this President Yohna is very dumb. What he has done is against the country’s laws and also against international conventions, and I just don’t know why they cannot think,” he said.
“Gentlemen, one thing I can assure you is that I am aware many lawyers have informed me that they are heading to the courts to overturn this stupid decision.”
As the discussion continued, one of the editors poked Alhaji Lai Ahmed that there could be some internal politics at work in the discussion.
Ayo Osunde, editor of The Scope observed that the minister of information, Alhaji Ail Moha, has since the crisis over The Tweet found his voice after the political disappointment he suffered in the ruling party’s registration exercise in his local province.
“We have for long sought to speak to the minister but he avoided us and everyone around was saying that the dirty fight he was having with the governor of his province was having a bad turn on him,” Osunde said, noting that he had delegated a reporter for weeks to seek out an interview with the minister but to no avail.
Osunde said that it was the suggestion in some quarters that Alhaji Ail Moha had used the proscription of The Tweet to again win relevance in the political corridors of the presidency.
Alhaji Lia Ahmed was quick to retort, “Yes, I must confess to you that what that governor did to Alhaji Moha was very unfair.
“After using all his powers to make him governor, see how the governor turned against him. But that does not mean that the minister should now use the collective interest of the country to project his political interest.”
“Yes, I hear from the grapevine that the minister has been dodgy especially as journalists want to find out from him why the degraded Boko Haram is still threatening our soldiers,” Alhaji Lia Ahmed added.
Continuing, he said: “I have said it before again and again this government is clueless. Now by banning The Tweet, how do our businessmen, intellectuals, entertainers and others link up with their counterparts in the international community? You just don’t cut your nose to spite your face,” Alhaji Lia Ahmed added.
As the discussion continued, another editor, Gbenga Idris said that he gathered that The Tweet was proscribed to stop the paper from being used as a vehicle for mobilization ahead of the June 12 ritual by pro-democracy advocates.
“Yes, I have heard that theory too. But it still doesn’t make sense for the government to shut down the most prominent news medium because of its fears that it would be used to project an alternative view, it doesn’t make sense to me at all.”
“Gentlemen, nothing makes sense from what we see from this government. You all heard the president when he rationalized his appointments in that television interview two days ago, that his appointments were all based on merit.”
“I can assure you, he made sense to only those his speech writers. Not to us and to the majority of Nigerians.”
“On a final note, I can assure you that when we come to government that we will bring Change that you and all Nigerians will be proud of.”