During his ministerial screening on Saturday, Bosun Tijani, the CEO and co-founder of CcHub, apologised over some controversial tweets he made in the past. His apology has raised questions on the right of citizens to be critical of the government because of future political ambitions.
Bosun Tijani, the CEO and co-founder of CcHub, apologised for some tweets he made in the past during his appearance before the Nigerian Senate for screening as a ministerial nominee on Saturday. Tijani’s nomination has excited many in the tech ecosystem given that he leads one of the most influential tech incubators on the continent.
But just as the news broke, some of his critical tweets about Nigeria’s politics and politicians resurfaced. Some of the senators quizzed Tijani about these tweets during his screening. “Nigeria is a bloody expensive tag,” read one of the tweets, cited by Senator Abdulfatai Buhari who is representing Oyo North Senatorial District.
Tijani’s response was that taken alone, the tweets did not paint the entire picture. For instance, he shared that he made the tweet about Nigeria being an expensive tag after an incident at the Chinese Embassy because of his Nigerian passport. “I am a patriotic Nigerian. “I believe so much in this country and I won’t do anything to undermine the integrity of this country,” he said. “The tweets online don’t represent me at all. As a young man born and bred by Yoruba parents, tender my sincere apology. I am profusely sorry.” Senate President Godswill Akpabio accepted the apology on behalf of the Senate after some Senators spoke in Tijani’s defense citing his impressive credentials.
In his earlier remarks, Tijani thanked President Bola Tinubu for nominating him to serve in a “crucial capacity”. The chances are that he will likely serve as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy—a big win for the Nigerian tech ecosystem that has long clamoured to have one of its own at the table. “Many of the prosperous nations that we admire have been built on a strong foundation of innovation. We are blessed as a nation with a signiﬁcant young population which is a critical resource for harnessing the opportunities oﬀered by Technology and Innovation in support of Mr. President’s stated goal of building a prosperous Nigeria for all,” the CCHub boss said.
The censure question
While Tijani’s apology might ensure that he’ll scale the ministerial screening, the Senate’s decision to question him over his past tweets will raise questions about censure. On one hand, many argue that his tweets were a reflection of the frustration of the average Nigerian about the state of the polity and the leaders. They also argue that such criticism shouldn’t be considered to represent unpatriotism.
In the end, the argument is pretty straightforward: when critics are offered a chance to serve in the government, they should be judged by their competence and pedigree—and not their critical opinions.