By Muhammed-Bello Buhari
Claim: Atiku, Nigeria’s former Vice President and the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, claimed that 90 per cent of northerners are not on social media while responding to a question in an exclusive pre-recorded interview on Arise TV aired on Friday, July 22.
Atiku made the claim, suggesting that the Labour Party cannot make inroads in northern Nigeria. He played down the possibility of Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, causing an upset to his presidential ambition during the next year’s general elections.
“It is very difficult to expect a miracle to happen simply because Peter Obi is in the Labour Party. After all, they were saying through social media [that] they had more than one million votes in Osun state.
“But how many voters turned for the Labour Party? And then again, mark you; you’re talking about social media. In the north, 90 per cent of our people are not tuned to social media.”
With this claim, social media was awash with all sorts of counterclaims. Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter knocked the former vice president out for his comment, alleging that such a claim is untrue.
According to the Digital Report 2021 by Datareportal—one of the world’s most trusted sources of social media data, insights and trends—the number of social media users in Nigeria was equivalent to 15.8% of the total population (208.8 million) in January 2021. This means there were 33.00 million social media users in Nigeria in January 2021.
This same report recorded the total population of the northern region to be 128.17 million. This is also in line with the National Bureau of Statistics figures on Nigeria’s demographics, using data from the National Population Commission.
So assuming that the divide of the social media users in Nigeria between the south and the north is 50-50. i.e. of the 33 million users, 16.5 million are northerners. This means that of the 128.17 northerners, only 12.9 per cent are on social media, representing 87.1 per cent are not on social media.
And given the apparent disparities in internet usage between the north and south due to market size, urbanization, economic development, income, telephone density and employment, which are the major contributory factors to the divide as reported in the research conducted on the digital divide in Nigeria, there’s at least a 60-40 percentage divide between the south and north in terms of internet and social media usage.
As such, 40 per cent of Nigeria’s 33 million social media users is 13.2 million. This means that of the 128.17 northerners, only 10 per cent are on social media, which also means that 90 per cent are not on social media.
Verdict: Atiku’s claim that 90 per cent of northerners are not on social media is backed up by data. Findings have shown that only 10 per cent of northerners are on social media. Therefore, the claim is valid.
Muhammed-Bello Buhari is a freelance fact-checker based in Kaduna and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.