Buhari switches to Facebook, risks losing four million Twitter followers

President Muhammadu Buhari risks losing over four million followers on Twitter, except he reverses his suspension on the microblogging platform.

He may also lose his position as African president with the second-highest Twitter followers if the suspension remains.

The president’s verified Facebook page has been more active since he suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 4.

Why president suspended Twitter

Angered by the deletion of his controversial post on June 2 by Twitter, Buhari ordered the suspension of the social networking service in Nigeria.

He had made the post while reacting to attacks on security agents and government facilities in the South-East.

The post read: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

The post was reminiscent of the Nigerian civil war that spanned 30 months between July 6, 1967 and January 15, 1970.

People of the South-East lost between 500,000 and two million civilians to the war.

Twitter claimed Buhari’s post contravened its rules.

Following the suspension, the president has switched to Facebook to communicate with his followers.

Buhari only present African leader to interrupt the platform for social interaction 

Screenshot of Buhari’s verified Facebook page

Buhari’s decision to suspend Twitter makes him the only sitting African leader to block a platform for social interaction at present.

Prominent Nigerians, including the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Enoch Adeboye and General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry Williams Kumuyi, have defied the order.

They claimed the president’s action conflicted with Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Many rights advocates also said the suspension was akin to dictatorial tendencies that characterised the Buhari regime when he ruled the nation as a military head of state between 1983 and 1985.

But the government has repeatedly defended the suspension and gave conditions for Twitter to resume operations in the country.

It said Twitter had been biased and constituted a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.

The government cited instances where Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a proscribed group, had posted many offensive messages allowed by Twitter.

It also explained that the public misconstrued Buhari’s message to mean that he threatened the entire Igbo and not troublemakers in the South-East. 

IPOB, a secessionist group, had attacked security formations and killed operatives in different communities in the South-East. They had also burnt many Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in their quest to create Biafra out of Nigeria.

Buhari’s followers low on Facebook, shrink on Twitter

Checks by The ICIR showed that while Buhari had over four million followers before he banned Twitter, his present verified Facebook account shows he has a little over one million (1,002,584) followers as of June 21. 

The ICIR reported, on Tuesday, that the president had lost 8,000 of his Twitter followers in less than a month that he placed the ban.

Buhari’s social media followers compared with other African leaders

Compared with other African leaders who have over a million followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, some of Africa’s most prominent social media platforms, the president enjoys a low following on Facebook. 

But he had the second-highest followership among sitting African presidents on Twitter, which he suspended.

Buhari joined Twitter in December 2014 in the build-up to the election that produced him as Nigeria’s president.

He has since made 5,180 tweets on the platform.

The president has a paltry 240,000 followers on Instagram with 290 posts.

He is, however, one of the few presidents in Africa with accounts in each of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Wordometres, a platform that provides statistics on major issues worldwide, shows that Nigeria had 206 million people in 2020, from which he draws most of his followers.

Buhari comes behind Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has 9.6 million Facebook followers. 

El-Sisi has attracted 5.1 Twitter followers and parades 2.4 million Instagram followers. 

He joined Twitter in March 2014 and has made 2,862 tweets. 

As of 2020, Egypt had a population of 102,334,404, according to Wordometres.

Ghana’s Nana Akufo Addo has 2.1 million Facebook followers and 1.9 million on Twitter. He also has 1.4 million on Instagram.

He joined Twitter in February 2011 and has made 7,738 tweets. 

Ghana’s population in 2020 was 31 million.

Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune has 1.1 million followers to himself on Facebook. But he has fewer than a million followers on Twitter (720.9 thousand).

He has made 88 tweets, and there are 43.8 million people in his country. 

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has 209,504 followers on Facebook and 1.9 million on Twitter. He joined in January 2015, and he has made 469 tweets.

The country had 59.3 million people in 2020.

In Rwanda, Paul Kagame has garnered 1.2 million followers on Facebook. and 2.3 million on Twitter. He also enjoys 759,000 Instagram followers.

He joined Twitter in May 2009 and has tweeted 2,924 times. 

Rwanda has a population of 12.95 million.

Senegal’s Macky Sall has attracted 598,086 Facebook followers and 1.6 million on Twitter. 

He joined Twitter in October 2010 and has tweeted 3,385 times. 

Senegal had a population of 16.7 million in 2020.

A screenshot of Buhari’s Instagram Page

In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni has 997,445 Facebook followers and 2.2 million on Twitter.

He joined the platform in March 2010 and has 7,524 tweets. 

Uganda has an estimated population of 45.7 million.

Zambia’s Edgar Lungu has 1.2 Facebook followers. His country had 18.3 million people in 2020.

Guinea President Alpha Conde has won 1.08 million followership on Facebook. His country has 13.1 million people.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan has 2.3 million followers on Facebook and. 1.5 million on Twitter. 

He has made 1,018 tweets since joining in November 2015.



    Whereas Nigerian are accessing Twitter through the Virtual Private Network (VPN), the government may have met a brick wall in its threat to prosecute users who flout the ban.

    The government also said Twitter was liable for losses occasioned by #EndSARS protests in October 2020 in Nigeria.

    The ECOWAS Court on Tuesday restrained the government from prosecuting users of the microblogging site.

    Twitter has requested an amicable resolution of the impasse, following which the Nigerian government set up a committee to meet with the firm. 


    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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