The internet has been heated following the viral video of the Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who missed his step and fell as he tried to mount his carriage on Nigeria’s Democracy Day, June 12, 2024, at the Eagle’s Square Abuja.

Netizens across social media did not relent in making it an internet sensation. Youths have shared the video on TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. The President’s fall generated memes and criticism of those who made fun of the incident.

Omotayo Willams, with a handle on X @KadunaResident, tweeted, “Twelve hours after Alhaji Tinubu’s speech, I have yet to see any motivating quotes or statements from it. All I have seen are videos of him falling. In contrast, he is trending minutes after Peter Obi’s speech, and his videos are everywhere. We know our president, and it may not be well with anyone who contributed to the rigging process. I hope you riggers are buying fuel at ₦200 per litre.”

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@SeniorBro11 tweeted, “Steeze wey everybody dey manages, e reach Tinubu turn e no fit maintain am.”

@Onlineguru tweeted, “Tinubu didn’t fall. He attacked the floor.”

Criticising those who mocked the President, user @CaptainArinze tweeted, “I just saw the video of President Tinubu tripping over. That wasn’t a good fall. It was scary to watch. I pray nothing happens to him. I hope he is okay. President Tinubu is elderly. There is nothing funny about an elder tripping or falling. Where are our morals as a people? That fall had nothing to do with him being weak. That was an accident, and we should be worried.

Everything is not politics. We can hold him accountable for his poor policies. We can continue to press his neck with objective criticism about the poor state of the nation. One thing we should never do is to jest at him because of that fall.”

Reactions from politicians

2023 Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) and founder of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowolu, reportedly called the President a sick man and shared videos of the fall across his social media handles.

Former Governor of Anambra State and LP Presidential Candidate, 2023, Mr Peter Obi @PeterObi, tweeted, “I was saddened to learn of President Tinubu’s unfortunate fall today. I wish him well. We achieve nothing by crowing about an accident that could well happen to any of us.”

In criticism of the mockery, Senator Shehu Sani @ShehuSani tweeted, “Not Just President Tinubu, anyone alive can trip and fall; it happened to President Biden and Fidel Castro. Presidents are human beings and mortals.”
Former Vice President of Nigeria and PDP Presidential Candidate, 2023, Atiku Abubakar @atiku tweeted, “I sincerely sympathize with President Bola Tinubu, @officialABAT, over this unfortunate incident as he was set to review the parade on Democracy Day. I do hope that all is well with him.”

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The President’s reaction

Speaking at a dinner following the incident, the President made light of the incident and gave the impression that it was deliberate. In his address, he said, “Early this morning, I had a swagger, and it’s on the social media. They were confused about whether I was doing buga or babaringa, but it is a day to celebrate democracy while doing dobale for the day. I am a traditional Yoruba boy; I did my dobale.”

Dobale is a Yoruba phrase that means ‘to prostrate’ when it comes to something or someone.

To this, user @chiditweets042 tweeted, “Tinubu didn’t fall, he just dobale Naira is not falling, e just dey dobale Companies are not leaving, dem just dey dobale.”

The fall of President Tinubu on Democracy Day sparked intense reactions from netizens, highlighting the power of social media as a tool for public discourse. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook were flooded with comments, memes, and videos reflecting diverse opinions and emotions.

Social media amplifies voices, allowing citizens to express instant dissent, support, and analysis. The incident demonstrated how social media could influence public perception, mobilise opinions, and foster a rapid exchange of information, proving its significance in modern political events and its ability to shape narratives and reactions in real time.