The online controversy of the week was ignited by an abusive tweet by Zahra Buhari, one of the daughters of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ms. Buhari, using her Twitter account, @Zahra_Buhari, tweeted insults at the President Jammeh of The Gambia calling him a ‘fucking child fucker’ over his alleged declaration to have the throats of homosexuals in The Gambia slit.
Once online media reported on this uncouth language from the daughter of a Nigerian President and the fact that it was directed at the President of another country and could spark a diplomatic row between Nigeria and the Gambia, Zahra Buhari attempted some damage control by doing a followup tweet to clarify that her ‘child fucker’ comments were directed at gays and those who legalize homosexuality.
In addition, President Buhari’s team began to sponsor media reports online, especially in The Gambia, amplifying Zahra’s clarification with the intent of keying into the homophobic sentiments of West Africans.
It turns out that in Ms. Buhari’s solo attempts to manage the situation, she inadvertently called President Barack Obama and all gay people, ‘child fuckers’. The United States recently legalised gay marriage through a Supreme Court ruling which was hailed by President Obama.
Following a wave of negative publicity over Zahra’s ‘child fucker’ tweet directed at President Obama and all gay people in the world, Buhari’s media team went into overdrive with the hopes of disclaiming Ms. Buhari’s Twitter account which was used to promote Buhari during the campaigns and after.
The @Zahra_Buhari Twitter account follows only 120 people and has 400,000 followers and even yesterday tweeted information on Zahra’s private itinerary. The account @Zahra_Buhari was a celebrity account among Buhari’s online supporters often mentioning his most ardent supporters in her tweets. At no time did anybody in the APC or Buhari’s official Twitter accounts disclaim @Zahra_Buhari.
So, last night, a new account was created by Buhari’s media team, @Zmbuhari. The account immediately tweeted at Kayode Sesan (@LordPuzo), a reporter with one of Nigeria’s investigative online newspapers, Breaking Times.
Hi Kayode, I am Zahra Buhari I just got back on Twitter today. All the other accounts are fake.
— Zahra M Buhari (@zmbuhari) July 4, 2015
The tweet was intended to quell the raging controversy especially as observers had predicted that Ms. Buhari’s uncouth and unguarded language against presidents of foreign countries, especially the US President would negatively impact President Buhari’s standing in the international community.
Ironically, reversal of Nigeria’s anti-gay law is expected to top agenda of the Obama-Buhari parley to hold on the 20th of this month.
Insiders in Twitter Nigeria informed The Trent, Saturday night, that Buhari’s media consultants were making frantic efforts to get the new Zahra Buhari account verified on Twitter. Breaking Times, published a report exposing this plot last night.
Faced with diplomatic pressure over Zahra Buhari’s language online, the Nigerian Presidency has been forced to issue a statement in which the government denied the offensive @Zahra_Buhari account and declared the account @Zmbuhari, created less than 24 hours earlier, as Ms. Buhari’s official Twitter account.
The statement declared that @Zahra_Buhari originally belonged to the president’s daughter, but it was ‘hacked’. The statement did not say exactly when it was hacked. As recent as yesterday, the account tweeted Zahra’s private travel itinerary.
Also, analysts are querying why the Presidency says not none of Buhari’s family members own Twitter accounts. So, why is Zahra special? Why did she break this rule and open an account last night for the purpose of damage control?
This is the statement from the Presidency below:
The attention of the Presidency has been drawn to unauthorized and unexpected Tweets by an account falsely linked to Zahra Buhari, one of the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Following enquiries by a few foreign missions on the raging online controversy about unsavory comments against some foreign leaders purportedly made by her, we wish to state categorically that Zahra is indeed on Twitter but the offending handle @Zahra_Buhari has stopped being her own for a long time since it was compromised by hackers.
Tweets by this handle are therefore not her own and should be disregarded and considered as the work of hackers seeking to cause mischief between this country and other friendly states.
Zahra’s authentic handle is @ZmBuhari and any handle other than this on Twitter should be considered as fake and therefore fraudulent.
It also pertinent to state at this point that neither the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari nor the other children are presently on Twitter, Facebook or the various other platforms.
As they the (sic) explore the possibilities on this new territory, we request the general public to ignore the many accounts on various platforms in their names that currently exist. Such accounts, beside the authentic one cited above in the name of Zahra are unauthorized and therefore fake.
The White House is yet to publicly react on the issue and experts in foreign relations say it is capable of affecting outcomes of President Buhari’s meeting with President Obama in Washington DC. Some have suggested that the US government could be deliberating on backing out of the meeting altogether.