The outrage that has trailed Bosun Tijani’s ministerial nomination over his old tweets is misdirected. If anything, Nigerians need to be just as angry as those tweets.
On 02 August 2023, President Bola Tinubu nominated Olatunbosun ‘Bosun’ Tijani, the CEO of tech startup support organization, Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), as a federal minister along with Adegboyega Oyetola, Atiku Bagudu, Bello Matawelle, Ibrahim Gaidam and Simon Lalong. Shortly after Tijani’s nomination, several people online went to work conducting ‘background checks’ on all nominees. In their ‘research’, they unearthed tweets Tijani had made in the past where he criticized Tinubu, former president, Muhammadu Buhari, and Nigeria’s government.
HOLD UP, WHO IS BOSUN TIJANI?
Tijani has been an integral part of the expansion of Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. He holds a Bsc. in Economics and a Diploma in Computer Science from the University of Jos and an MSc. in Information Systems and Management from the UK’s Warwick Business School. In March 2023, Tijani completed a PhD in Innovation and Economic Development at the University of Leicester. He co-founded CcHub in 2010, and as CEO has led the expansion of CcHub across Nigeria, Kenya, and Namibia. With a billion-naira growth fund, CcHub has supported over 95 early-stage businesses across multiple sectors including education and healthcare.
Tijani’s critics accused him of not being patriotic in his old tweets. One of the tweets his critics cited was from 2019, when Tijani wrote that the name ‘Nigeria’ had become a sort of burden due to how citizens are treated outside of Nigeria. Tijani wrote: ‘How did we earn this level of gang up of hatred? The sound of that name earns you more trouble than joy! How can we fix up? I don’t pray this experience for my kids.’
It was no surprise that questions about Tijani’s old tweets came up during his ministerial screening on 05 August 2023. In response, Tijani apologized and explained the circumstances surrounding some of his tweets, narrating how he felt embarrassed with the way officials at the Chinese Embassy treated him for holding a Nigerian passport.
WAIT…DOESN’T TIJANI HAVE A POINT?
Tijani’s outrage in 2019 was justified: from being mistreated to being denied entry at foreign airports, many Nigerians often face discrimination abroad on the basis of their passports. In October 2020, the UAE banned Nigerians from entry into the country despite former president, Muhammadu Buhari’s attempt at intervention. In July 2023, the government of Seychelles banned Nigerian passport holders from visiting the country for holiday purposes.
Those expressing outrage at Tijani’s tweets are playing the ostrich and directing their anger wrongly. They should be angry with Tijani and not at him as his outburst reflects the declining status of Nigeria and how the country is perceived globally. As Nigeria’s economic situation and outlook worsens, more Nigerians, especially those in the middle class, are opting for leaving the country, creating a ‘japa’ wave.
RUN THE NUMBERS
According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 1.7 million Nigerians left Nigeria in 2020, a substantial rise from 990,000 in 2010. In 2016, 4,400 Nigerians were granted permanent residence in Canada. This figure soared to over 15,000 in 2021. Additionally, according to a 2021 World Bank survey, 50 per cent of young Nigerians want to leave Nigeria for a better economic future abroad. With the inflation rate rising to 22.79 per cent in June 2023 and the unemployment rate set to reach 43 per cent by 2024 according to a projection by KPMG, the dire situation is forcing many Nigerians to seek opportunities outside of the country.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Tinubu’s emergence as president following the 2023 presidential election has not been favourably received by many young Nigerians. Many in this demography supported the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. Thus, for many young people (who are also very active in the tech sector), Tijani’s nomination has felt like a silver lining in what has otherwise been a stormy period. Despite Nigeria’s overall challenges, the Nigerian tech space has been steadily growing: according to Technext, Nigerian startups closed more funding rounds than any other African country in 2022. For context, 28 Nigerian startups raised their first $1m+ round in the first half of 2022.
Tijani’s critics need to understand that only those who care passionately about Nigeria are still angry. Their necessary outrage is important to spur Nigerians to participate in elections, run for office and engage in civic duties that can change Nigeria’s direction. Nigerians should be angry, like Tijani, until things get better⎈
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