The Dirty Business of Running Nigeria Down

Simbo Olorunfemi

By Simbo Olorunfemi


Recently, my attention was drawn to the report by CNN on location of Twitter Office in Ghana. I would not have bothered to go beyond the headline, seeing that what is actually a next to nothing has been framed as a supposed new jollof war. So silly. But it was cited as reference, though ended up not being one.

But I was stuck by the story for other reasons, from the professional point of view and as a Nigerian. The story has 2 bylines – Nimi Princewill and Stephanie Busari. Reading through, you might assume this was a promotional for Ghana and a hatchet job against Nigeria.

First, what is the rationale or sense in pitching a win for Ghana as a loss for Nigeria? Is it necessarily so? Was there a competition between Ghana and Nigeria over the location of Twitter’s office? Why is the win for Ghana not framed as a loss for South Africa, Kenya or Egypt? Why make it about Nigeria? Is Nigeria, which already hosts Facebook, Google, Microsoft, among others, the only country in Africa? There is nothing in the statement by Twitter, except I missed it, that makes reference to Nigeria.

Now, to the story. Anchored by Nimi Princewill and Stephanie Busari, my first thought was that Nimi must be Ghanaian, as Stephanie is Nigerian, wondering how the Ghanaian was able to pull a positive swing while the Nigerian only pushed a negative narrative. A check seems to suggest that both writers are actually Nigerians!

So, these are supposedly two Nigerians privileged to write for an international platform. They take on a simple story for Ghana and weave negativity about Nigeria around it, in the name of reporting on ignorance-fueled hullabaloo on Social media.

From a professional point of view, it is conceded that some Nigerians took on the Twitter office location in Ghana to talk down on their country. Fact. But is there proof that their position is the dominant one that it must colour how the Nigerian position is presented to the world? I am not aware of any. None was offered in the report.

This report quotes five Nigerians- Reno Omokri, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and others. None had any positive thing to say about Nigeria. Let us assume that the reporters are not conversant with the politics of these two men, will they also claim that on Twitter, like other social media platforms, they could not find just ONE Nigerian who took a contrary position to that by Omokri to reference in their story? They did not see the numerous tweets and posts on the presence of bigger Tech giants in Nigeria. Busari and Princewill did not see all the references to location of offices in Nigeria by Facebook, Google and Microsoft? What an unprofessional report with no effort at striking balance.

I have made the point, like many, that the location of a Twitter office is less significant than has been made by some. Of course, it is understandable that the ever ready, desperate brigade looking for firewood to fuel contrived anger will latch at anything, real or imagined, to talk down the country. But, a Journalist should be able to tell when he is running on empty, except on a mission to destroy. It surely cannot be an account of patriotism, except the brand that has been appropriated by Shakabula Activists.

No one says there are no issues with country, governance or even business environment. But just as there are challenges are there opportunities. There are people and businesses daily taking advantage of these opportunities. Some might choose to ignore where we are coming from, what has been achieved and the direction the journey is taking, but to insist that everyone must ignore gains and wins, but take to perennial lamentation is strange. If you can’t see, others can.

We know it is the age of faux activism, with some getting high on lows for their country and going low when the country sails high. They lose their voices when things go well and find them, once news breaks, even if fake, that reinforce their biases. Even with plenty of eggs on your face from previous misadventures, they never hold back. They are on a mission. It is an obsession.

There is a whole multinational industry dedicated to the mining of contrived anger, bottling it up for cash and retailing it to the army of faux patriots, taking advantage of their naivety and gullibility. It is a dirty business. The objective is to run Nigeria down. They have failed.

– Olorunfemi is a journalist and author