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FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Who is the biggest liar in Ghana
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”

Joseph Goebbels

Who is the biggest liar in Ghana, and why does Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia's name come up come up for this query? This study breaks down probably the most effective social disinegenuity perpetuated in Ghana's politics.

Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

When Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia formally announced his intention to run for president, the hashtag Bawuliar popped up in Ghana's Twitter trends.

It was not the first time #Bawuliar had trended. As of March 2023, over 1,110 Twitter users had used #Bawuliar created 24 million impressions and reached over 5.69 million people. 

The hashtag spiked on April 8, April 28 and later on May 2 when news broke that Dr Bawumia declared his intention to run for president in a meeting with the  in .

We identified a cell of 28 Twitter accounts that amplified the #Bawuliar campaign on Twitter using the copy-paste technique, a coordinated campaign that was intended to discredit Ghana's Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia by highlighting various contradictions and inconsistencies in his pronouncements, and digging up his failed promises. The campaign ultimately sought to brand Dr Bawumia as a liar.

Why #Bawuliar?

Bawuliar was first mentioned by a Twitter account with the username @NotJustPascal on 18th June 2016. However, the hashtag was used for the first time on 7th September 2016 in @ishmaelseidu1's reply to Gabby Otchere-Darko's tweet about whether the government was trying to muzzle Dr. Bawumia, who was by then, running mate to the New Patriotic Party's presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo. 

Many users on who cannot be identified as belonging to a political party have also expressed their disappointment in the Vice President who convinced Ghanaians before the 2016 elections that he would competently handle the economic affairs of the country.

Dr Bawumia promised to halt the depreciation of the and even famously declared that “we have arrested the cedi and given the key to the IGP”. But Ghana's exchange rate has performed rather poorly and was ranked as the world's worst-performing currency in 2022. The Vice President once indicated he does not believe that transactions should be taxed but in 2022, his government introduced mobile money taxes.

Many of these incidents have cast doubts on the credibility of his government. The  government promised never to seek help from the International Monetary Fund but it made a U-turn and secured a $3 billion loan.

An Economist and Governance Expert, Dr Ishmael Yamson recently questioned the credibility of the NPP government in saying, “The government is faced with credibility crisis otherwise, why are investors refusing to lend to Ghana? Because they know we cannot pay”. 

Although the has seen some stability in recent months, the high inflation rate of over 50 percent and fuel prices are still a burden on the ordinary Ghanaian. 

As a result of this, there has been a barrage of attacks on the integrity and credibility of the vice president following the government's inability to provide concrete interventions in dealing with the economic challenges.

Many have been wondering why Vice President Dr. Bawumia who eloquently diagnosed the economic challenges affecting the country when he was in opposition is currently unable to provide solutions to the quagmire his administration is faced with.

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.

This investigation looks into whether the trend of #Bawuliar is organic or an attempt orchestrated by political opponents to cast a slur on the credibility of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.

An analysis of the actors that shaped the #Bawuliar trend?

A chart showing the top 10 seeders of #Bawuliar (Source: JoyNews using Python)

A chart showing the top 10 seeders of #Bawuliar (Source: JoyNews using Python)

Top Amplifiers

These are the top 10 Twitter accounts that retweeted #Bawuliar tweets.

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

A chart showing the top 10 amplifiers of #Bawuliar (Source: JoyNews using Python)

Top Influencers

These are the top 10 Twitter accounts whose tweets were retweeted the most.

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

A chart showing the top 10 #KenMustGo influencers (Source: JoyNews using Python)

Who are the top players of #Bawuliar?

We identified Twitter user @sammygyamfi2017 as the second most influential account in respect of the #Bawuliar trend.

@sammygyamfi2017 per our checks, used to be the username of the Twitter account of the National Democratic Congress (), Sammy Gyamfi. Currently, the account's username is @SammyGyamfi_.

This is supported by the archived tweets on Wayback Machine, from when the account's username used to be @sammygyamfi2017.

@SammyGyamfi_ has tweeted #Bawuliar 11 times. The top three #Bawuliar tweets were by @SammyGyamfi_.

The most popular #Bawuliar tweet was @SammyGyamfi's reaction to Dr Bawumia's claim that Ghanaians could use the Ghana card as a travel document in lieu of a passport.

The 12th February 2022 tweet described Dr. Bawumia to be allergic to the truth with lies being embedded in his DNA. The tweet garnered 171 retweets and 727 likes. 

The second most popular #Bawuliar tweet was another reaction by @SammyGyamfi to the same claim about the Ghana card on 10th August 2022.

This time, he posted a video in which Ghana's foreign minister, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, clarified that Ghanaians can use the Ghana card as a travel document only in instances when they are travelling to Ghana from other countries. This tweet garnered 163 retweets and 537 likes.

The third most popular #Bawuliar tweet was also by @SammyGyamfi on the same subject of the Ghana card being used as a travel document.

In this tweet, he shared a Ghana Web publication that reported the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO)  statement that they do not have the power to certify the Ghana card as an electronic passport.

The tweet, which garnered 86 retweets and 290 likes, also described Dr Bawumia as jocular and a serial liar. 

Our investigation revealed that @sammygyamfi2017 and @SammyGyamfi_ are both usernames that belong to the same Twitter account belonging to the communications director of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi.

Thus, the username of the account was changed from @sammygyamfi2017 and @SammyGyamfi_.

This was confirmed by archived versions of tweets by the account from when its username used to be @sammygyamfi2017. See the tweets below. 

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Screengrabs of archived tweet with @sammygyamfi2017 as username (left) and the same tweet by the same account with @SammyGyamfi_ as username (right) (Source: CfA using Wayback Machine and Twitter)

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Screengrabs of archived tweet with @sammygyamfi2017 as username (left) and the same tweet by the same account with @SammyGyamfi_ as username (right) (Source: CfA using Wayback Machine and Twitter)

NB. The difference in the tweet time could be because the person who archived the tweet may have been in a different time zone. 

We identified the Twitter account with the username @Annanperry as the most influential account concerning the #Bawuliar narrative. The account used #Bawuliar 97 times.

@Annanperry identifies himself as a youth activist of the opposition National Democratic Congress. @Annanperry frequently amplifies pro-NDC narratives.

This is evident in the account's most used hashtags per its last 2192 tweets. The hashtags include #NDCDecides, #NDCPrimaries, #GalamseyGovernment, etc. (See screengrab below) 

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Screengrabs of @annanperry's most used hashtags and the Twitter accounts that were involved in pushing the #Bawuliar narrative are heavily connected.

@SammyGyamfi_ has retweeted @Annanperry's tweets 29 times. @AnnanPerry has also mentioned @SammyGyamfi_ in his tweets 20 times.

@Annanperry retweeted @MPKwarteng's tweets 59 times, retweeted @royal1kingly's tweets 54 times and @Dejoh36's tweets 53 times.

Thus, @Annanperry is also strongly associated with @MPKwarteng, @royalkingly and @Dejoh36, all of which are part of the top 5 influential accounts that drove the #Bawuliar narrative on Twitter.

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Visualization of the Twitter network that drove the #Bawuliar narrative on Twitter (Source: Joynews using Gephi)

Copy-pasting technique used to drive #Bawuliar 

Besides being the most influential account that drove the #Bawuliar, @Annanperry was also at the centre of the coordinated campaign involving 28 Twitter accounts that copy-pasted #Bawuliar tweets.

@Annanperry would usually be the first person to send out the tweet, after which, various Twitter accounts would tweet the same content, word for word, with #Bawuliar.

Most of these tweets were excerpts of an opinion article titled ‘Digitization of Ghana's economy: An insight into John Mahama's massive investments'.

Former Minister for Communications of Ghana and Presidential spokesperson, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah co-authored this article with the Director-General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Dr. George Atta-Boateng. 

Scenario 1

Message: “Some private businesses in the financial, insurance, IT and E-Commerce industries can save millions of dollars annually by hosting and storing their data, websites/Apps, E-mails and other systems locally through the National Data Centre.”

Breakdown: 18 accounts posted this same content word, for word, 20 times. This meant certain accounts engaged in retweeting more than others.

Screengrab of copy-pasted #Bawuliar tweets (top left, top middle, top right, bottom left, bottom middle, bottom right) (Source: Joynews using Twitter)

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Scenario 2

Message: “At no additional cost to the State, this fibre network was also extended to the (UHAS) to facilitate research, teaching and learning.#Bawuliar”

Breakdown: 18 accounts posted it 19 times. This meant that certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

Scenario 3

Message: “For Mahama, every aspect of a digital economy lies at the heart of these two main components: Digital Infrastructure and Digital Applications. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: 18 accounts tweeted it 18 times. This meant that certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

Scenario 4

Message: “On E-Workspace, the main objectives of John Mahama were to, among other things:

Run a paperless governance system and reduce the time and energy public and civil servants spend on printing or photocopying documents. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: 15 accounts tweeted it 40 times. This meant certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

Scenario 5

Message: “These digital interventions have made life more convenient for millions of Ghanaians and enabled critical services to be extended to the needy in remote and underserved communities. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: 18 accounts tweeted it 18 times. This meant certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

Scenario 6

Message: “Digital Infrastructure is the foundation of every digital economy therefore, during his tenure, President Mahama built the most robust and efficient infrastructure in the country since independence. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: 16 accounts tweeted it 17 times. This meant particular accounts tweeted the message more than once. 

Scenario 7

Message: “A 300 km radius Metro Fibre Network within  and Tema, with the capacity to offer Wi-Fi and other ICT services to millions of Ghanaians and businesses within the enclave, was also deployed. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: 18 accounts tweeted 18 times. In this copy-pasting by these accounts, 18 of the accounts tweeted once. 

Scenario 8

Message: “From the NDC's massive digital infrastructure achievements, John Mahama's Digital Applications record is unmatched. #Bawuliar”.

Breakdown: In this copy-pasting by these accounts, 15 of the accounts tweeted once.

Scenario 9 

Message: “The GOTA phones have been used by many security, civil and public servants; and have even been applied towards the innovative attempts to reduce maternal mortality in the Greater Accra Region. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: In this copy-pasting by these accounts, 15 of the accounts tweeted once.

Scenario 10 

Message: “An LTE/4G network with over 119 base stations across the length and breadth of Ghana, to provide internet services and network backbone support to all Government agencies (Ministries, Departments, Districts, etc.) was also rolled out. #Bawuliar”

Breakdown: With this scenario, 15 accounts tweeted once.

The Impact of #Bawuliar

The framing of the Vice President as a liar appears to have gained some ground. Dr. Bawumia's photos dominate the image tab upon a Google search for “Who is the biggest liar in Africa?”.

(Screengrab below) This could be the result of “Google bombing”, a technique where a website is pushed to rank highly for irrelevant or off-topic search terms by amassing lots of connections to it, similar to how Donald Trump was linked to the word “idiot” in 2018.

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana? Who is the biggest liar in Africa?

The emergence of #Bawumianneverlies, a supposed counter-narrative 

#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. 

This was the only tweet that used the hashtag in 2022. But, between 1 January 2023 to 14 June 2023, #Bawumianeverlies has been mentioned 11,719 times on Twitter. 2,105 of the mentions were original tweets, 8,109 were retweets, 1,341 were quoted tweets and 164 were replies.

Pro-NDC accounts hijack #Bawumianeverlies

#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 to amplify tweets about Dr Bawumia's supposed failed promises.

Scenario 1

Message: “Bawumia promised to produce at least half of Ghana's sugar needs locally within the next four years. We now import sugar and other products more than ever, meanwhile Komenda factory is left to rot. #Bawumianeverlies”

Breakdown: 12 accounts posted it 21 times. This meant that certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

FACT CHECK: Who is the biggest liar in Ghana?

Screengrab of copy-pasted #Bawumianeverlies tweets (top left, top middle, top right, bottom left, bottom middle, bottom right) (Source: Joynews using Twitter)

Scenario 2

Message: Bawumia promised to “provide a reliable and cost-effective mix of energy supply for businesses” #Bawumianeverlies

Breakdown: 12 accounts posted it 15 times. This meant that certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

Scenario 3

Message: “Bawumia promised to complete the development of the Buipe Inland Port. Bawumia has no Shame and integrity, otherwise, he would have apologised to our Northern brothers. #Bawumianeverlies”

Breakdown: 10 accounts posted it 12 times. This meant that certain accounts tweeted the message more than once.

Also, three Twitter accounts that were involved in the #Bawuliar campaign were involved in the hijacking of #Bawumianeverlies. The three accounts are @HonBawuah, @ChiefJoelKofi1 and @Elikem_official. 

The verdict

Although there are organic public sentiments that Dr Bawumia has broken many promises he made to voters as reflected in mainstream media, 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 the narrative.

As the 2024 general election beckons, many of such accounts belonging to party loyalists will likely be used together with sockpuppet accounts to aggressively battle for control of the narrative on social media.

This article was produced with mentorship from the African Academy for Open-Source Investigations (AAOSI), to tackle disinformation that undermines our democracies, as part of an initiative by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and Code for Africa (CfA). Visit https://disinfo.africa/ for more information.

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