President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the removal of the #BringBackGoodluck2015 banners, a hashtag promoted for his re-election, but whose adaptation of the popular #BringBackOurGirls, sparked outrage Tuesday.
A statement released by the president’s office Wednesday said Mr. Jonathan found the banners “offensive and repugnant” and had ordered they be immediately removed.
“President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has directed that the #Bring Back Jonathan 2015 signs and banners around Abuja which he and many Nigerians find offensive and repugnant be brought down immediately,” the statement said.
The banners, displayed at strategic positions in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, triggered swift reactions in Nigeria and abroad, with critical articles appearing in international media outlets, including the BBC and the Washington Post.
The #BringBackOurGirls Twitter hashtag was coined to help galvanise international support for the release of nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted April 14 in Chibok, Borno State, by extremist sect, Boko Haram.
While more than 200 of the girls remain in captivity, the campaign became a rallying point and is deemed amongst the social media’s most popular campaigns yet.
Washington Post’s columnist, Ishaan Tharoor, described the #BringBackJonathan2015 hashtag for a government that has failed to rescue the girls nearly five months after, as likely the “most inappropriate hashtag of the year”.
“It’s not clear whether Jonathan has officially endorsed the new hashtag, but its seeming ubiquity suggests that he is not opposed to it,” Mr. Tharoor wrote.
In Nigeria, the anger was more, particularly on social media.
#BringBackGoodluck2015 was he also kidnapped by boko haram?
— Khutšo ® (@khutso) September 10, 2014
one Twitter message read.
— Jen Ross (@JenRoss2009) September 10, 2014
A statement signed by a spokesperson for the president, Reuben Abati, said the banners were put up without the president’s knowledge.
“President Jonathan wholly shares the widely expressed view that the signs which were put up without his knowledge or approval are a highly insensitive parody of the #Bring Back Our Girls hash tag,” it read.
It added: “While President Jonathan appreciates the enthusiastic show of support for his administration by a broad range of stakeholders, he condemns the #Bring Back Jonathan 2015 signs which appear to make light of the very serious national and global concern for the abducted Chibok girls.
“The President assures all Nigerians and the international community that his administration remains fully engaged with efforts to rescue the abducted girls and that he will not knowingly promote any actions that will fly in the face of the seriousness of their plight and the anguish of their families,” it added.