ENDSARS Protester Apologizes Over Past Derogatory Tweets

By Ezra Odogu

A ministerial nominee from Ogun State and #ENDSARS protester, Bosun Tijani, on Saturday, apologised to the Senate and Nigerians over past derogatory tweets.

Tijani made the apology while being screened by the Senate for a ministerial position.

Senators had in their questions asked Tijani whether he still stands by his past tweets one of which directly impugned the image of the country and another one which referred to Senators as “morons.”

Tijani said the tweets which were largely taken out of context were made during times of tremendous frustration.

After intervention from the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele, Senator Elisha Abbo and Senator Solomon Adeola, Tijani however apologised over the tweets after which the Senate asked him to “take a bow and go.”

Tijani explained the reason behind the controversial tweet to the Senate.

Senator Fatai Buhari (APC – Oyo North) had posed a question to Tijani, a Tech guru, when he appeared at the hallowed Red Chamber for screening.

Tijani had in an old post, tweeted that he doesn’t appreciate the Nigerian passport and Nigeria as a Nation.

Besides the controversial tweet under reference, a number of the nominee’s old tweets about the President had gone viral since his name emerged on the president’s ministerial list on Wednesday.

Senator Buhari while questioning the nominee read Tijani’s tweet that had gone viral, saying, “Nigeria is a bloody expensive tag to have against your name. Leave patriotism for a minute – that tag is a bloody waste of energy. A second foreign passport isn’t sufficient to clean that “sin.”

“Is that still your position or have you changed your mindset, Nigerians need to know?,” Senator Buhari asked the nominee.

Tijani in response, told the lawmakers that he made the tweet out of frustration over what he experienced while trying to get a visa from the Chinese Embassy.

The nominee explained that he had been at the forefront of displaying patriotism through the work he does for the Nigerian Youths and the country.

Tijani said, “Thank you, for asking that question Senator Buhari and I will want you to listen to me as if I am your son because I will speak from my heart because everything I say today can be proven.

“I have spent the last 15 years of my life going across the world looking for people to support people who believe they can use technology to uplift this world.

“Every time you get to the lobby of my offices, you’d find an artwork and embedded in the centre of the artwork is the Nigeria flag.

“In 2019, as a sequel to what I did with Google, the business I do with young people requires that they raise money and their ability to raise money relies on investors from abroad and I did everything possible to ensure that I built an office that is fully domiciled in Nigeria.

“In the Technology space, people hardly domicile their businesses in Nigeria but I domiciled my business in Nigeria.

“We decided to improve Nigeria’s opportunity to be able to raise more funds for Nigeria and we needed to do a tour of the whole world and we didn’t just want to do it as Nigeria but as Africa.

“So, I opened up 15 slots, this whole trip was paid by Google, and nothing came to me. We gave eight of the slots to Nigerians because I have a second citizenship which is a British passport.

“I was in the UK and I was trying to apply to the Chinese Embassy because I do not need a passport to other countries of the world.

“I got to the Chinese Embassy and they told me that it would take two days to get my Chinese visa and I was very excited.”

He further stated that things went sour for him, the moment he mentioned that his business was based in Nigeria and it was at that point that he made the tweet.

“They asked me what I do and that I needed to provide my pay slip. I told them I run my business and they requested my Bank account statement; I told them my business is fully domiciled in Nigeria.

“The moment I told them my business was domiciled in Nigeria; the young man told me they have to do a check on me which will take take a minimum of two weeks.

‘In anger, I tweeted what you read, which was paraphrased wrongly and now I have a taste of what the Youths do to you as well. The tweet you read is just the first part of the tweet,” Tijani said.

Tijani further pleaded with the lawmakers that he was only a victim of misinformation.

He added that the second part of the tweet explicitly read: “For us to lift this country, we must find a way to correct our image to project a positive image because I don’t want my two young girls to grow up to experience the same thing.

“What they have given you is the first screenshot which is convenient for them,” he said.

On his part, Senate Minority Leader, Simon Mwadkwon, also asked Tijani to explain what he meant in one of his tweets where he referred to Senators as “morons.”

At this point, Senate Leader Bamidele rose to make clarification.

He noted that Tijani’s tweet reflected his past position as a leader of the #ENDSARS protest and his age as a youth.

He added that his own two daughters who were given birth to in the United Kingdom during his law practice there also joined the ENDSARS protest when they returned to Nigeria to serve in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

He said he was sure that children of some of his colleagues also joined the protest at the time.

He asked his colleagues to see the nominee as a son who was nominated by Tinubu who had been accused of sending soldiers to shoot protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.

On his part, Senator Solomon Adeola, said Tijani is given opportunity to apologize over his past utterances through tweets he is ready to do so.

He added that Tijani would have spoken through youthful exuberance and therefore he should be so allowed to apologize.

In his contribution, Senate President Godswill Akpabio said: “Even people are disappointed with the way Nigeria’s image is being battered in the international community but since then you have made effort to correct the image.

“You have brought Zuckerberg, Gates and you are doing a lot of things to bring young Nigerians to go into IT business for them to make money from there to sustain themselves and you are very determined to make sure that your young children grow up to be proud of their identity as Nigerians so that what you suffered Internationally should not be meted to them and that the image of this country must be corrected.

“So, when Mr President gave you this opportunity, we are very happy and this is now even a higher platform for you to come in and help change that image and also have to change Nigeria.”

In his response, the nominee, Tijani, said: “As a Yoruba boy that grew up in Lagos and Abeokuta, I do understand that we are not meant to disrespect our elders. That was not the training we were given.

“My father won’t be proud of me for all these allegations but what he will be proud of as well is the passion that led to those mistakes.

“I apologise to everyone in this hall, including everyone anywhere in Nigeria that may have been offended by everything I’ve said.

“I ask that you please, in the process of accepting my apologies that you look at the undertone of everything I’ve said. I didn’t say it to spite, I said it out of frustration. So, please accept my sincere apologies.

“Distinguished Senators, please accept my apologies for going too far in my explanation, I’m absolutely sorry for everything I’ve said.”

In his response, Akpabio said: “Senators, we are all fathers, our children do err and we cannot throw away the baby with the bath water.

“We recognise his intellect, contributions, we thank the President for being a forgiving father despite all these tweets.

“On behalf of the Senate, I want to accept your apology. Keep up the good work of creating opportunities for young people to grow so that they will not be having the kind of anger that made you to make all those tweets.”

Tijani holds two degrees from the University of Jos; a B.Sc in Economics and a Diploma in Computer Science.

He also obtained a Masters’ Degree in Information Systems and Management in 2007 from the Warwick Business School in England and completed a Ph.D. programme in Innovation and Economic Development at the University of Leicester.

Tijani is the CEO and co-founder of Hub. He has led the expansion of CcHub across Nigeria, Kenya, and more recently, Namibia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *