Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia in the leadup to the 2016 election became famous for the use of the word “incompetent.” This was despite the fact that the word was directed at then president John Dramani Mahama’s style of governance.
Roll on the years, Bawumia is facing a similar case of unpalatable branding largely by pro-opposition activists on social media platform Twitter.
Bawumia has serially been referred to as a liar by senior officials of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in media interview and postings on social media.
A report into what has become known as the #Bawuliar hashtag has revealed among others that the trends were largely inorganic and emanated from increased activity by NDC activists on Twitter.
It also emerged that the NDC’s National Communications Officer Sammy Gyamfi was a major source of #Bawuliar tweets that went on to trend, most of them triggered after Bawumia makes a major economic statement or address.
The most recent was after Bawumia announced his presidential bid for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearership.
Findings from Kwetey Nartey’s analysis
The analytical report on the trend was conducted by JoyNews journalist Kwetey Nartey who found among others that the term Bawuliar and #Bawuliar were first used in 2016 but their use for political engagement started in February last year.
“Criticisms which started as an organic onslaught on Dr. Bawumia’s credibility on the streets and in the mass media, gained traction in social media circles with the hashtag #Bawuliar.
“During the investigation, we observed that almost every comment the Vice President made about the economy was met with a spike in #Bawuliar tweets,” his report read in part.
The investigation identified the top accounts, influencers and amplifiers of the #Bawuliar trend whenever it is employed, usually after the Vice President makes a major statement on the economy.
Nartey also identified through anaylysis that at the heart of the inorganic nature of the trend was the cut-and-paste postings that meant that they were coordinated and ratcheted up to achieve a particular outcome.
It notes that when pro-government activists tried countering the #Bawuliar trends, their version of #BawumiaNeverLies, was hijacked by the NDC Twitter army.
“#Bawumianeverlies first emerged on 22 April 2022 in @kingkobby_gh’s reply to @Yabbanx’s tweet about the use of drones to deliver blood to save lives being a manifestation of the vision of President Akufo Addo and Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
“#Bawumianeverlies was supposed to be a counter to #Bawuliar. However, #Bawumianeverlies was hijacked by pro-NDC Twitter accounts to drive the narrative that Dr. Bawumia had failed to deliver on his promises, suggesting that he had been dishonest. 16 accounts used the copy-paste technique coordinatedly amplify tweets about Dr. Bawumia’s supposed failed promises,” the report added.
The journalist concluded that even though government and Bawumia specifically has come under sustained critique by people in opposition and the civil society space, which critique are organic, “the NDC has taken advantage of these sentiments and branded the Vice President as a liar for political gains.
“The coordinated sharing of #Bawuliar tweets by 28 accounts using the copy-paste technique shows an aggressive move to exaggerate and entrench the “liar” narrative.”
“Whilst the Vice President may indeed be facing a credibility deficit, #Bawuliar is an inorganic trend that exaggerates the existence of narrative,” he added.
The report was produced with support of the African Academy for Open-Source Investigations (AAOSI).