How accurate is Atiku’s claim on population of social media users in Northern Nigeria?


THE presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar has claimed that 90 per cent of Nigerians from the Northern part of the country are not on social media.

The former vice president made the claim in an exclusive interview with Arise TV, aired on Friday, July 22, 2022.

This is coming as Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) is reportedly known for having many supporters on social media especially on Twitter even though his party, allegedly, does not have strong grassroot structures across the states of the Federation.

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Atiku argued that this development would limit the chances of Obi winning the 2023 presidential election.

“So, 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 votes did Labour Party get in Osun? 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,” he said.

Both Atiku and Obi are among the candidates from various political parties contesting Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election.


But how accurate is Atiku’s claim?

According to the Nigeria Digital Data 2022 report by datareportal, there were 32.90 million active social media users in Nigeria as of January 2022 – equivalent to 15.4 per cent of the country’s total population put at 214.1 million in the report.

According to the data, Facebook and Facebook messenger had 26.10 million and 4.05 million users respectively; Instagram had 9.05 million users; YouTube had 32.90 million users; LinkedIn had 6.30 million members; Snapchat had 9.50 million users and Twitter had 325.4 thousand users.

Northern Nigeria comprises three geo-political zones, namely the North-West, North-East and North Central.

Though the national population census has not been carried out since 2006; but the current population of Nigeria is 216,687,552 as of Thursday, July 28, 2022, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data, which was also published on the National Population Commission (NPC) website.

However, the Nigeria Population Projection and Demographic Indicators-State and National, published by the NPC in 2020 stated that the country’s total population is expected to be 216,783,381 by 2022. This year, the male population is projected to be 108,350,410 while the female population is 108,432,971.

The nineteen Northern states plus FCT account for 122,305,437 of the entire projected population for the year 2022.

Based on the projection analysed by The FactCheckHub, North Central has a population of 31,613,217; North-West has 60,150,348 and North-East has a population of 30,541,872 people.

Though there is no publicly available data which provides the estimate of social media users based on region or according to states of the Nigerian federation, a report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) titled “Telecoms Data: Active Voice and Internet per State” shows that a total of 145,851,496 Nigerians were active on the internet in the first quarter of 2022.

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According to the data, Northern states account for 68,531,602 of the population of internet subscribers in the country. North Central records 27,476,820 internet subscribers while North West records 26,912,492 internet subscribers. North East, which had the lowest subscribers in the region, records 14,142,290 internet subscribers.

Infographic showing the number of active internet subscribers in Northern Nigeria

Comparing it with the 2022 population projection, about 86.9 per cent of the population subscribe to the internet in North Central, 44.7 per cent in North-West and 46.3 per cent of the population subscribe to the internet in the North-East.

In total, 56 per cent of the entire Northern region’s population in the country subscribes to the internet. 

The above analysis casts a doubt on the accuracy of Atiku’s claim because a large majority of internet users make use of social media in one way or the other, according to a social media poll result by the NOIPolls.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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