In what appears to be his first formal reaction to the unfolding armed insurgency against the Nigerian state by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) separatist group, President Muhammadu Buhari had this to say: ” Many of these misbehaving today are too young to remember of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. “
As though to remind these ” young” and ” misbehaving” separatist agitators of his exploits during the 30- month- long Nigeria/Biafra war, Buhari, who was a brigade major within the 1st Division of the Nigerian Army under the command of General Muhammadu Shuwa, boasted thus, ” Those folks within the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them within the language they understand. “
Buhari’ s threat of treating Biafran separatist agitators within the language they understand evoked the horrific memories of the war, which is characterised by starvation, death and physical destruction.
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Unfortunately, the federal military government of Nigeria, under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon, launched an operation to crush the Biafran rebellion between 1967 and 1970.
It recorded a fatal accident of mass starvation and over three million civilian deaths, including women, children and therefore the aged.
The Biafran territory, a neighborhood approximating the predominantly Igbo- speaking South East geo- political zone in present- day Nigeria, was completely devastated by heavy air and artillery bombardment by the Nigerian security forces.
It is against this background that Buhari’ s statement was widely condemned as a threat against citizens of his own country, and when he took an equivalent message of threat to Twitter, it attracted wider condemnation and subsequent sanctions from the tech company, citing violation of its rules.
Amid widespread condemnation, the angry reaction of the Buhari administration to the action taken by Twitter against his offensive tweets, by banishing the messaging application from the Nigerian cyberspace, may be a clear and dangerous indication that Buhari didn’ t learn any lessons from Nigeria’ s war history; a history he was a part of.
Because of the various lessons unlearned from Nigeria’ s war history, Buhari clearly misunderstood the condemnation of his statement as support for IPOB’ s insurgency and misinterpreted the deleting of his tweets as Twitter’ s deliberate act of aiding forces of destabilization of his government.