Analysis: Sentiments of the #EndSARS Hashtag Through 3.96 Million Tweets

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Subsequent to the EndSARS protests in Nigeria, More Branches undertook an analysis by leveraging Twitter data to gain some insight into the interactions and impressions towards the protests; both internationally & locally. For context, the EndSARS protest was a demonstration championed by the Nigerian Youths to voice out against the rampant police harassment, brutality, and extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) across the country.

For the purpose of this analysis, 3.96 million tweets were extracted which accounts for 10% of the total number of Nigerians who have a Twitter account (NOIPolls, 2019); these were extracted from 2016-2020 by making use of the hashtags “EndSars” & “EndPoliceBrutalityInNigeria”.

While the protests seemed to have been sparked by the death of a young boy who was reportedly murdered by a SARS official on the 3rd of October and might have seemed sudden to many, an insight into the yearly tweets shows the use of the EndSARS hashtag as far back as 2017 which only confirms the aphorism that little drops of water do actually create large oceans.

Evident from the yearly tweets, there was no data found for 2016. This can be attributed to the fact that the Nigerian youths had not capitalized on the power of social media. Additionally, since the EndSARS protests began, many Nigerian youths shared their various police harassment experiences; many of which were prior to 2016. In 2017, 133908 tweets were extracted. This declined by approximately 47% and 24% in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

This decrease can be attributed to the gubernatorial and presidential elections which ran from 2018 to 2019. This is also coupled with the fact that the elections required the deployment of police officials towards the security of the elections and thus a general reduction in the unnecessary harassments.

Just as a cancer starts from its root and spreads to other organs if not treated early-on, the impact of the EndSARS protests started from Nigeria but its effect was felt across the globe (over 97 countries) by many who also held EndSARS protests in various other countries such as UK, USA & Canada to support Nigerians as well as raise global awareness to the cause.

An insight into the interactions of the Nigerian states revealed the top 5 states as Lagos, FCT, Rivers, Oyo & Ogun respectively. Correspondingly, these states also witnessed a high number of protests with Lagos being the epicentre of all actions.

A glance at the word cloud reveals some of the most used words associated with the tweets extracted using the hashtags “EndSars” & “EndPoliceBrutalityInNigeria” such as ‘people, support & us’ which are words that signify unity and bring people together, ‘endbadgovernanceinnigeria’ which signifies dissatisfaction towards the current state of governance in Nigeria, ‘endswatnow & reformthenigerianpolice’ portraying lack of trust in the current system and management of the Nigerian Police Force & ‘trendingendsars’ demonstrating the awareness of the Nigerian youths towards the strength of social media towards the cause.

It also revealed some individuals who seemed to play a central role during the protests such as Jack who created a Twitter icon for the protests, Segalink who played an important role of bringing the EndSARS movement to life in 2017, Fkabudu, Aishayesufu, Mrmacaroni, Falzthebahdguy & Savvyrinu who played vital roles in the organisation and mobilisation of the protests, Davido whose song “FEM” served as a moral stimulant across the protests nationwide and Burnaboy who created billboards to create awareness towards the cause. Other names disclosed were Mbuhari president of Nigeria, Profosinbajo vice president of Nigeria & Jidesanwoolu governor of Lagos state, Ogbenidipo & Wizkidayo.

Lastly, the tweet sentiments show the opinions and engagements of Twitter users towards the use of the hashtags “EndSars” & “EndPoliceBrutalityInNigeria” through the polarity score. A polarity score greater than 0 denotes a positive sentiment while a score of less than 0 denotes a negative sentiment. As can be observed from the chart, the Twitter users reacted positively towards the use of the hashtags; most likely because it served as a means to voice their pain concerning the police harassments.

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