Last month, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cleared the presidential candidates of 18 political parties for the 2023 general elections. With this, 18 candidates are currently jostling for the number one position in the country and will be testing their popularity come February next year at the polls.
One of many factors pointing at serious contenders in the game is social media engagement and followership. The political gladiators have also recognized this and are latching onto the various platforms to engage with potential voters. Instructively, supporters are also demonstrating their loyalty by following their candidates on these platforms.
While it is believed that elections are not won or lost based on social media sentiments, there is no doubt that the number of followership a candidate commands on such platforms mirrors the popularity of such candidates, at least, on social media.
Of all the social media platforms, the microblogging site, Twitter, has proven to be a vibrant avenue for political engagements. Politicians all over the world recognize the power of Twitter and have continued to leverage it for political success.
Interestingly, since the 2015 general elections, events on Twitter have continued to play a significant role in election victories in Nigeria. It is, therefore, not surprising that politicians continue to actively engage with the Twitter community as the election draws nearer.
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Nairametrics looks at the Twitter handles of the 18 Presidential candidates for the 2023 elections and highlighted below are the top 5 candidates with the highest number of followers.
Atiku Abubakar (4.6 million)
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar is not a newcomer to social media and he has been on Twitter over the last 12 years engaging his followers. The former Vice President, who also contested in the 2019 elections currently has the largest number of Twitter followers among the Presidential candidates. He is followed by 4.6 million people.
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As of June this year, Atiku’s followership on Twitter stood at 4.2 million. This shows that the PDP Presidential candidate has gained 400,000 more followers in the last 4 months.
Peter Obi (2.3 million)
The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi came second with 2.3 million followers on Twitter. Obi, who joined Twitter in 2018, is currently enjoying massive support across various social media platforms.
As of June this year, the former Anambra State Governor had 1.1 million followers on Twitter. The current figure shows that he has more than doubled his followership in the last 4 months, adding 1.3 million new followers.
Bola Tinubu (1.4 million)
The former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is now the Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is no stranger to Twitter. Having registered his presence on the platform in February 2012, his 10-year-old Twitter account currently has 1.4 million followers to emerge as the third most-followed Presidential candidate on the platform.
The APC candidate has gained 300,000 new followers on Twitter in the last 4 months. As of June this year, his followership on the platform stood at 1.1 million.
Yele Sowore (812,300)
The Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2023 elections, Yele Sowore, has been on Twitter since 2013 and he is one of the most-followed candidates. He currently has 812,300 followers to occupy the 4th position.
Back in June this year, Sowore’s followership stood at 728,800. This shows that he has gained 83,500 new followers in the last 4 months.
Rabiu Kwankwaso (258, 600)
Another formidable force in the 2023 Presidential election is Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). He is also pushing his campaign through various social media platforms. With his 4-year-old Twitter account, Kwankwaso has garnered 258,600 followers as of the time of filing this report.
The former Kano State Governor has also recorded an increase in followership over the last 4 months. In June this year, the number of his followers on Twitter stood at 172,200.