President Goodluck Jonathan, on June 28, 2010, signed up for Facebook, saying he wants to interact with Nigerians in a unique way. He had made the announcement to join the social utility at the 26th convocation of the University of Port Harcourt on May 15, 2010.
His first Facebook post stated, “I have created a Facebook fan page to interact with Nigerians. As I said on that day, there is an unchallengeable power of good in the Nigerian nation and her youth and through this medium I want Nigerians to give me the privilege of relating with them without the trappings of office.”
Within twelve days of opening the account, President Jonathan’s fan base hit 100,000. On Thursday, the President’s Facebook fan base had soared to 916, 717. A check on Facebook revealed that over 30 Presidents of African countries have a Facebook fan page. Meanwhile, none of them could boast a fan base up to a quarter of Jonathan, making him the most ‘liked’ African President on Facebook. In fact, only three African presidents have over 100,000 fans on Facebook.
The African President, whose followership base ranks next to Jonathan is outgoing Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki, who has 165,356 Facebook fans. Kibaki, 81, is one of the early adopters of the opportunities which Facebook wields as a social utility. He joined Facebook on November 9, 2007.
Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, who was formerly the country’s Vice-President, started an official fan page on July 30, 2012, six days after he assumed office, following President John Atta Mill’s death.
Mahama, who deployed the account for his presidential campaign last December, has continued to utilise the platform to commune with Ghanaians, making the fan page, created barely eight months ago, increase in followership.
In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring which began after a vendor set himself on fire in protest, the country’s President Moncef Marzouki has a Facebook fan page. Marzouki, obviously took into cognizance the way and manner the protest spread to cities in the North African nation through social media, especially on Facebook.
Marzouki joined Facebook on February 9, 2011, and updates the account in both French and Arabic consistently daily.
Other African leaders who have a good presence on Facebook include President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, with 78,270 fans; President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania with 59,790 fans; President Paul Kigame of Rwanda with 43,945 fans; President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt (38,811); Senegalese President Macky Sall (31,688).
However, the case of President Jonathan, who is Africa’s most ‘liked’ president on Facebook can be likened to the saying that “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Jonathan’s adventure and engagement with Nigerians on Facebook has made him one of the most insulted on the social network. Nigerians who object to his policies have continually criticised and hurled insults and abuses on him on the social network.
Besides, President Jonathan is not the most ‘liked’ public figure in the Nigeria. Omotola Jolade Ekeinde, hit the one million Facebook fans’ milestone last month and now boasts 1,013,234 likes, making her the number one Nigerian Facebook personality.