ABOUT 300 ‘support groups on Facebook are campaigning for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to emerge as Nigeria’s president in 2023, checks by The ICIR have revealed.
And more than 200 others are rooting for the APC Chieftain Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor of Kogi State Yahaya Bello.
The figure was obtained from collating active Facebook accounts through which the various support groups are advancing the presidential ambition of the former vice president.
In all, more than 500 such support groups are currently campaigning for four politicians – Abubakar, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu and Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello.
Bello has signified his intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Tinubu and Abubakar are yet to formally declare their intentions to contest the presidential election in 2023, but they are expected to be among the leading contenders when the race is eventually thrown open by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Osinbajo is not known to harbour any presidential ambition, but several groups have, in recent times, been making a case for him to succeed Buhari in 2023.
* Numerous Pro-Atiku groups litter Facebook
Among the prominent groups is the Atiku Support Group.
Created on October 12, 2018, the group is located in Ibadan and has 202,000 members as at September 14.
According to its Facebook profile, the group’s mission is to “disseminate information about the presidency ambition (sic) of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON.”
Another group – Support Atiku for 2023 – was created on December 20, 2017, with the name last changed on June 16, 2021.
Located in Abuja, the group currently has 893 members, and is aimed to “inform Nigerians nationwide of the need to support Atiku for a better Nigeria.”
With 1,800 members, another group ‘Atiku for President 2023,’ describes itself as a pressure group for ensuring the election of Abubakar Atiku for president in 2023. The group was created on February 9, 2013 but the name was last changed on March 16, 2021.
Another prominent Pro-Atiku group is one known as ‘Atiku Abubakar is Coming Next Year.’ The group was created on November 25, 2019 and currently has 19,000 members.
Atiku Youths Campaign Group, currently with 380 members, was created on November 1, 2018, as a ‘platform for all Nigerian youths with a common goal to support, campaign and help market the ideas of Atiku Abubakar.’
On the group’s Facebook profile, Abubakar was described as a politician “whose main vision is to transform, unite this nation, stop the killings in the land and grow our economy with the best hands.”
Another group, the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Group Organisation, was created on September 17, 2020 and currently has 671 members.
As of September 14, another Pro-Atiku group – Atiku Support Group, 2023 General Election – created on May 14, 2020, has 25,000 members.
The ICIR’s checks show that many of the existing pro-Atiku groups were formed to campaign for the former vice president in the 2019 presidential election, which he contested as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Abubakar lost the election to the incumbent President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some of the groups which promoted Abubakar’s candidacy in 2019 have had to change their names to reflect the subsequent goal of supporting his presidential ambition once again in 2023.
However, others who campaigned for Abubakar in 2019 did not change their names to reflect the current 2023 agenda continue to use their platforms to mobilise support for the former vice president ahead of the next presidential poll.
Among the Pro-Atiku groups are also many which were formed after the 2019 elections, in anticipation of his expected presidential bid in 2023.
Groups campaigning for Abubakar to succeed Buhari as Nigeria’s president also include U and I for Atiku 2023, Dr Atiku Abubakar Support Group, Atiku Support Group Youth Movement, Atiku Students Support Group, Atiku Diaspora Support Group the USA, Atiku Support Vanguard Nationwide, Coalition of Atiku Support Groups, Atiku Special Support Group, 774 Support for Atiku 2023, Coalition of Atiku Support Groups Initiative (CASGI), and Atiku Support Group Come 2023 General Election, among others.
Our correspondent counted about 300 of such groups.
* Pro-Tinubu groups
In the same vein, The ICIR’s checks show that more than 120 support groups are promoting the presidential ambition of Chieftain of APC Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Among the groups campaigning for the former Lagos State governor Tinubu is the Tinubu Support Group (TSG).
The Facebook profile of the TSG shows that the group was created on September 23, 2020 and currently has 279 members.
The Ahmed Bola Tinubu Support Group Germany is another prominent platform that is promoting Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
The group, located in Stuttgart, Germany, was created on May 29, 2020 and its Facebook profile says it has 12,000 members.
The mission of the group, according to the Facebook page, is: Promote Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu brand of progressivism; expand support for Ahmed Bola Tinubu in Nigeria and across the globe; increase social consciousness of progressive politics through the lens of Ahmed Bola Tinubu, and promote progressive governance of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Another group campaigning for Tinubu is Tinubu for President 2023. Located in Kano, the group was created on July 11, 2020, and currently has 32,000 members.
“Ahmed Bola Tinubu is a long live democrat (sic). He is the leader we turn to come 2023. The Jagaban of Nigeria,” the group states in its Facebook profile.
Yet another prominent Pro-Tinubu group is the Tinubu Media Team, created on January 1, 2019 and boasts of 209,000 members.
The Tinubu Media Team, located in Abuja, describes itself as an ‘Arewa Youth Progressive Alliance (AYPA) for the propagation of Tinubu candidacy in 2023.’
“Our aim includes but not limited to putting the necessary pressure to persuade his Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu contest as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023,” the group adds in its Facebook profile according to its Facebook profile, a
A 13,000-member group – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – located in Kano, Lagos and Ibadle, was created on September 30, 2020, “to brainstorm together and work hard to choose Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as our president by 2023 general election.”
The Tinubu Support Organisation (TSO) is equally another prominent Pro-Tinubu group. With 4,200 members, the group, created on September 13, 2020, is on its Facebook page described as a ‘political group in solidarity to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu 2023.’
The Young Professionals for Tinubu Presidency – created on October 28, 2019, and currently has about 2,600 members – describes itself as a group of young professionals working to ensure Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu becomes the president of Nigeria in 2023 ‘God willing.’
Other groups that are campaigning for Tinubu to become Nigeria’s president in 2023 include: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – B.A.T National Forum, Tinubu for President 2023, Tinubu 2023 Support Group, Tinubu Solidarity Group, Northern Alliance for Tinubu 2023, Bola Ahmed Tinubu Group, USA, Tinubu Transformation Agenda 2023, I Love Tinubu, Tinubu Mandate Group, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu Northerners, Tinubu Peoples Network, Vote Tinubu 2023, and Tinubu Grassroots Movement, among several others.
* Bello’s presidential ambition gaining momentum
Ever since he declared that he would give a positive response to Nigerians, including youths, women and ‘very objective elite’ who he claimed were asking him to run for president in 2023, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has become one of the leading names in discussions concerning Buhari’s successor.
The development has resulted in the emergence of several support groups which engage in promoting the governor’s presidential ambition on Facebook.
Checks made by The ICIR show that, as at September 14, about 50 support groups are campaigning for Bello.
One of the groups is Yahaya Bello for President 2023. Created on April 17, 2023 with about 1,500 members, the group states its mission as ‘Yahaya Bello for 2023 Project.’
Another pro-Bello group – Yahaya Bello for New Nigeria 2023 – created on March 11, 2021, describes itself as a “team of forward-thinking individuals who have come together to support a visionary leader in person (sic) of His Excellency Governor Yahaya Bello.”
Among the existing pro-Bello groups were created to campaign for him in the Kogi State gubernatorial election but have now been updated to serve the interests of his presidential ambition.
One of such groups, Gov. Yahaya Bello Network, was created on April 29, 2016, and renamed on March 9, 2021. The group, which said it is located in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State in South-West Nigeria, states its mission: ‘Yahaya Bello 2023 Movement: A dream that shall come to pass by our support and that of God Almighty.’
The Governor Yahaya Bello Media Group 2023 was created on June 30, 2021. On its Facebook profile, the group, which boasts 263 members as at September 13, describes itself as ‘mainly for campaigns of Yahaya Bello for President 2023.’
Other groups that are campaigning for the Kogi governor to become Nigeria’s president in 2023 include: Alh. Yahaya Adoza Bello for President 2023 Campaign, I Stand With Governor Yahaya Bello, Yahaya Bello Support Organizations for President, Youths Arise for Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, Yahaya Bello is Our President 2023 and Coalition of Nigerian Youths4Yahaya Bello’s 2023 Presidential Project, among others.
* Groups want Osinbajo to succeed Buhari
In August, after campaign posters featuring the pictures of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje flooded the streets of Kano, the VP’s spokesman Laolu Akande said that Osinbajo had no interest in the 2023 presidential election.
But checks by The ICIR show that several support groups are campaigning for the vice president to succeed his boss, Buhari, in 2023.
Vice presidents taking up the mantle after presidents has concluded their tenure in office is usually the norm in democratic governance and, although Osinbajo has not spoken openly of any intention to take over from Buhari, as at September 14, about 50 groups are actively marketing him for Nigeria’s next presidency.
One of the groups that are campaigning for the vice president is Professor Yemi Osinbajo 2023. Created on April 4, 2021, the group currently has 111 members.
Another group – I Support Yemi Osinbajo – created on June 24, 2014, with the name changed on June 26, 2020, has 10,000 members.
The group, which states its location as Kano, describes itself as a ‘group of true lovers and die-hard supporters of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.’
Another pro-Osinbajo group – Osinbajo for President 2023 – was created on May 22, 2021. Stating its reasons for backing Osinbajo to emerge Nigeria’s next president, the group, on its Facebook profile, says: “He (Osinbajo) was tested when the president (Buhari) travelled and he was an economy builder (sic).
“Nigeria needs you now,” it added, in a plea on the VP to declare his intention to contest the presidential election in 2023.
Another group rooting for the vice president to succeed Buhari in 2023 is ‘Osinbajo Must be President,’ created on April 18, 2021, and currently has 146 members.
The existing pro-Osinbajo groups include some created to campaign for the Buhari/Osinbajo APC presidential ticket back in 2015 and again in 2019 but have now taken up the fresh mandate of advancing the VP’s candidacy for 2023.
The Osinbajo Support Movement, with about 63,000 members, is among the vice president’s most prominent support groups. The group was created on June 6, 2015 and renamed on August 18, 2020.
On it Facebook profile, the Osinbajo Support Movement says it exists as a complete support base for the vice president.
“Nigeria craves for a man of integrity and an unblemished leader with the fear of God. Osinbajo is the man. Our loyalty to the Star Boy (Osinbajo’s nickname) is unshaken and our support is total,” the group adds.
Other groups that want Osinbajo to become Nigeria’s president in 2023 include: Coalition for Osinbajo Volunteers (COV 2023), North-West for Osinbajo, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for President Support Group, Yemi Osinbajo Vanguard, North-Central for Osinbajo and Osinbajo Media Team.