TWO weeks after Twitter suspension in Nigeria, President Muhammadu’s followership has dropped, while those of his aides have seen some increase.
Since the announcement of the ban, President Buhari’s Twitter account has lost 8,030 followers.
This reporter made use of the Wayback Machine, an internet archive website, to track the growth or otherwise of the president’s Twitter followership. It was discovered that Nigeria’s president had 4.107 million followers from his last archived tweet on June 4.
The number dropped to 4.099 million as followers disembarked from the account.
However, Buhari’s media aides Bashir Ahmad and Tolu Ogunlesi have experienced some level of growth in terms of followership on their Twitter accounts.
Using the internet archive website, it was found that Buhari’s Personal Assistant on New Media Ahmad Bashir had 915,579 Twitter followers on June 5 – a day after the announcement of the ban.
His followership has grown to 917,189 on June 21. This means that his account has received 1,610 new followers.
Special Assistant (SA) to the President on Digital and New Media Tolu Ogunlesi had a total of 686,644 followers on April 9, the last day archived by the Wayback Machine.
Ogunlesi’s Twitter account has since risen to 697,844 as at June 21. This implies that he has added 11,200 new followers.
The Twitter accounts of both presidential aides have been silent, without any new tweet, yet there have been movements in terms of followership.
A campaign was launched on Twitter despite the ban
The ICIR had earlier reported the Nigerian Attorney-General Abubakar Malami’s call for the prosecution of Nigerians violating the Twitter ban.
This was the same period when it was reported that Nigerians made use of virtual private networks (VPN) to access Twitter.
After the ban on June 4, the hashtag #unfollowbuhari began to trend cross the Twitter space.
Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Chidi Odinkalu, through his handle @ChidiOdinkalu, put up a post that read, “#UnfollowBuhari. It’s easy…”
Another user @jessie_oyawiri wrote in Pidgin English, “Who still dey follow Buhari… Operation unfollow Buhari,” followed by the hashtags #Buharimustgo, #unfollowbuhari, #Twitterban and #EndSARS.
Social media analysts said the hashtag forced many of Buhari’s followers to unfollow him. On the other hand, they said his aides gained more followers because Twitter users wanted to monitor when they would tweet.