Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday succeeded in setting an unwanted record for himself after he went on a blocking spree on microblogging app, Twitter.
Not less than five persons reported being blocked on Sanwo-Olu’s verified personal handle as soon as they commented on a tweet made by the governor.
The development came as a shock to many, who apparently did not expect such an act from a governor that had always tasked youths on leadership and participation in governance.
What angered Sanwo-Olu?
It all began when Sanwo-Olu heartily congratulated African Fintech firm and payment company, Flutterwave, for hitting an epic milestone in the tech industry.
The Co-Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola had announced the company’s $170m Series C funding in a tweet talking about how they had come a long way as a payment technology infrastructure, to which Sanwo-Olu lashed on with congratulatory comments.
Huge congratulations to Gbenga and the entire team of @theflutterwave for this landmark achievement. Stories of how they are enabling SMEs are everywhere around us and as a government, we are committed to supporting deeper interaction. https://t.co/7srJog6rZa
— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) March 11, 2021
Alas, the governor’s stance on the state being committed to supporting the firm’s goals attracted critics, who reminded the governor how he had also committed to supporting the defunct bike-hailing firms – Gokada, ORide as well as Max.ng.
A Twitter user, known as Demola of Lagos (@OmoGbajabiamila) replied the governor’s tweet, saying: “This clown is congratulating Flutterwave but it was the same clown that frustrated OPay, Gokada and MaxNG out of business.”
Another user, @PhiloeEsq, wrote on the timeline: “Sanwo-olu is audacious. Enabling SMEs by suffocating Gokada & co. Then congratulating the same Flutterwave they smoked during the EndSARS protests. You just know when Jagss is tweeting.”
Then came the blocking spree, as several other tweeps who had questioned the Governor’s definition of support, started posting screenshots showing they have been blocked from viewing his handle.
Does Sanwo-Olu truly listen?
Since the election of Sanwo-Olu as governor of Lagos state in 2019, there had been series of social media campaigns by his supporters, with the hashtag #SanwoOluListens always making it to the trends table on Twitter.
Following the governor’s actions on Thursday, well-meaning Nigerians dug up the hashtag to call out those championing the campaign, showing them screenshots of their principal’s behaviour.
A democratically-elected governor, who bans taxpayers from viewing his social media page just for asking a harmless question, could not possibly be ‘listening’.
Sanwo-olu blocking taxpayers’ online public access to him has to be bottom-tier crass behavior.
So much for #SanwoOluListens
— nermés (@whoisleun) March 11, 2021
I just noticed the Governor blocked me too.
I only asked who gave the order. Simple question oh
— No 🧢 (@ThaGuru_) March 11, 2021
Before now, it was unheard of that a Nigerian Governor resorted to using the block button as way of handling criticisms directed at them from social media followers.
It is actually worth pointing out that Sanwo-Olu is among the least-criticized Governors on Twitter, yet the big names in the supposed drag list of TwitterNG had never resorted to blocking.
Kano Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has been one of the most-dragged governors on the bird app, especially following the 2018 allegation of corruption with videos showing the governor allegedly pocketing dollars in his babaringa.
Abia Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu is another Governor that is regular on the Twitter trends list. Kaduna’s Mallam Nasir El-rufai, Rivers’ Nyesom Wike, former Ekiti Governor, Ayo Fayose, among others. All of these leaders are yet to resort to blocking as a form of response to criticism.
Other political office holders who are known ‘blockers’ on Twitter
Sanwo-Olu is only the latest member of a group of political office holders who do not hesitate to use the block button whenever they are not comfortable with a user’s opinion towards them.
As at the time of this publication, Ripples Nigeria, is in the block list of madam Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chaiman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission.
This could have been a step she took after seeing a headline from the Newspaper that didn’t sit well with her. Dabiri-Erewa is a known ‘blocker’ of critics on Twitter.
Media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Tolu Ogunlesi is another Twitter user cum government official, who does not take nonsense. Although his fans could argue that he had been that way long before he accepted to work with the President.
But the question remains whether or not it is right for political office holders to deny citizens public access to their social handles, to ask critical questions, the public office holders feel uncomfortable with.
A Twitter user has even suggested that anyone that cannot be tolerant enough to take such attacks, or constructive criticisms, has no place in leadership.
This is totally out of order.
These guys are just intolerant.
Anyone that is this intolerant has no place in Leadership.
— Christ in me… (@detayomanuel) March 11, 2021
But how would Sanwo-Olu respond to this? The Governor is yet to react.