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Buhari, Aisha, aides greet Nigerians via Indian App, Koo, on Democracy Day

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha, and personal aides to the couple have signed on to an Indian microblogging platform, Koo, as an alternative to American microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, and have adopted Koo as a medium to greet Nigerians happy Democracy Day, barely a week after they deactivated their various accounts on Twitter.

Buhari and the first lady, Aisha, at different hours took to their Koo accounts to wish and celebrate with Nigerians and appealed that they contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria.

A check by The Guild on the platform with over six million users, mostly Indians, Buhari, who joined less than five days ago, has 3, 522 followers while the wife has 688 followers while she follows two users, her husband, and the Federal Government.

The President, on his handle, @Muhammadubuhari, greeted Nigerians and posted excerpts from his speech delivered earlier on Saturday with a hashtag, #DemocracyDay2021, meanwhile, Aisha, with a handle address, @A_Buhari, posted a terse message that was accompanied by a banner inscribed with ‘Happy Democracy Day’.

On the Indian app, The Guild gathered that the Nigerian government now has a verified account (@Nigeriagov) where it had started putting out regular official government activities and has written over 20 posts and the handle was currently been followed by over 23,000 people less than one week after joining the platform.

Joining the president to embark on the switch to the Indian platform, which was inaccessible in Nigeria before the Twitter ban last week, includes his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, his Personal Assistant on digital and new media, Bashir Ahmad, and the Special Assistant on Digital/New Media to the president, Tolu Ogunlesi, have all switched to the new microblogging platform.

While other individuals may be struggling to garner influence as they had while on Twitter, Ahmad, the president’s aide on new media, was already getting more followers than his boss, with about 10, 000 followers’ mark about six days after he deactivated his account after the ban.

Also on the app with the president and his family were the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his aides, who have been using the platform to disseminate their policies and programmes to ensure that residents of Lagos especially those that have switched from Twitter to Koo, get informed.

Following the switch, many Nigerians have started switching to the Indian app designed to resemble Twitter but with a different logo, a yellow bird, that differentiated the app from its American contemporary.

They joined the platform following the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria over allegations that the handlers of the social media app were being used to undermine “Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

These came barely hours after the apex government rejected Nigerians and diplomats’ appeal to lift the indefinite ban placed on Twitter operations after the microblogging platform pulled down President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments and Videos on the Nigerian Civil War that ended 50 years ago.

Also, it came hours after the Minister of Information and Strategy, Lai Mohammed, hinted that Twitter had reached out for dialogue and insisted that all social media platforms operating across the country would be compelled to pay taxes into government coffers.

The Koo cofounder, Aprameya Ramdhakrishna, who took to Twitter to announce the Federal Government’s arrival on the application, described the government’s arrival as an indication that the social networking platform had started getting global recognition. According to him, A very warm welcome to the official handle of the Government of Nigeria on @kooindia! Spreading wings beyond India now

Koo is an application developed by a Bengaluru-based startup and was introduced to Indians last year after their citizens particularly their Bollywood artistes and musicians, began to have confrontations with Twitter over non-compliance with the new IT rules.

Since its launch in 2020, the app managers have been able to secure funding of around $30 million from investors such as Tiger Global, to rival Twitter and possibly take over the African market from them.

The country unlike Nigeria, has an Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which stirred controversy in India in the past months.

The Indian app, Koo, owned by a tech firm, Bombinate Technologies, had been touted as India’s alternative to Twitter, after it was founded in March 2020, following the American firm’s face-off with the Asian country’s government.

Koo currently has over 6 million users in India and a number of influential politicians as well as Bollywood artistes Kangana Ranaut, whose Twitter account was suspended last months, have joined the platform to reach out to their fans.

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