In a bid to gain traction among the huge population of social media users in Nigeria, Indian social media platform ‘Koo’ has featured the image of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) for its internet advert.
Peoples Gazette reports that the microblogging app also promises to provide “exclusive updates from him on their platform.
The development has courted a backlash from one of Nigeria’s civil society organisations, Center for Democracy and Development, (CDD), which describes its use of Buhari’s face for Koo’s commercial as “distasteful and immoral.”
Koo, touted as a replacement for popular microblogging app Twitter, was promoted by Buhari’s supporters shortly after the Federal Government banned Twitter operations in the country in June.
Days after the ban, official federal government social media platforms stopped tweeting and migrated to Koo as top government functionaries, presidential aides, agencies, and other pro-government individuals also took to the social media app.
The Indian microblogging site has since moved in to cash in on the development, with an assurance to establish a physical presence in Nigeria while connecting with top influencers.
Koo co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna hinted from his Twitter handle:
“@kooindia is available in Nigeria. We’re thinking of enabling the local languages there too. What say?”
Interestingly, Koo’s entry into Nigeria is similar to the circumstances around its introduction to its home market in India.
Shortly after its launch, thousands of Indian farmers started protesting three controversial agricultural laws, many people took to Twitter to complain.
The Indian government demanded that Twitter suspend accounts of some media houses and opposition, insisting that they were spreading misinformation, PG reports.
Koo positioned itself as a government-friendly alternative to Twitter, as the social media platform’s vocal support for freedom of expression was not accepted by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.
In Nigeria, the Buhari-led administration has been vocal about its desire to impose control over social media, which has been a voice for activists and opposition groups to challenge repressive policies.
The latest advertorial of Mr Buhari as the face of Koo in Nigeria received an excoriation from civil society organisation, Center for Democracy and Development, CDD.
“Its a shame the #TwitterBan has persisted till now, despite the economic disaster it has proven to be for youths who depend on #twitter for their livelihoods.
“For obvious reasons, we find this ad by #koo, another microblogging platform, both immoral and distasteful,” CDD tweeted.
For now though, the ban on Twitter remains as Nigerians turn to Virtual Private Network (VPNs) to access the popular site.