This is the real story of how Naomi Campbell tweeted, deleted and tweeted again after taking a tour with President Buhari.
What would have been deemed an innocuous tweet anywhere else, immediately turned political in Nigeria.
Before Buhari left Lagos for Abuja on Friday, a tour of the Eko Atlantic City project, was last on his itinerary.
Eko Atlantic is envisioned as a coastal city sprawled on a land area of approximately 10 square kilometres in highbrow Victoria Island, Lagos. It was reclaimed from the Atlantic ocean.
Moments after the president’s tour of the Eko Atlantic, the presidency’s Twitter handle @NGRPresident, happily informed the world that Campbell had joined Buhari on the project inspection tour.
“President @MBuhari today in Lagos toured Eko Atlantic City. He’s pictured here with Governor @AkinwunmiAmbode, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and @NaomiCampbell. #PMBinLagos”, the tweet from @NGRPresident read.
Minutes later, Campbell corroborated the presidency’s tweet with hers that read:
“Was a pleasure to be invited by His Excellency The President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to the private launch of Eko Atlantic @NGRPresident @MBuhari”.
Soon after both tweets were issued, the blowback from Twittersphere became intense. Before long, 'Naomi Campbell' became the top trend on Twitter Nigeria.
Campbell’s past was thrown into the mix by angry Twitter users on the other side of the nation's political divide. She was called names for alleged blood diamond dealings with former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Buhari shouldn’t be shaking hands with her or inviting her over on a tour of government projects, these Twitter users averred.
As the criticisms and debate on Twitter raged, the presidency put out a disclaimer through Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmad.
“For the sake of clarity, President @MBuhari didn’t invite Ms. Naomi Campbell to any event during his 2-day visit to Lagos State. They only met at the Eko Atlantic City while Mr. President was touring the project, and she requested to take photos with him”, Ahmad tweeted.
And as though on cue, Ms Campbell deleted her earlier tweet in which she stated she had been invited on the tour by Buhari.
Her tweet was replaced with one that read: “Was a pleasure to meet His Excellency The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to the launch of Eko Atlantic. HERE FOR ARISE FASHION WEEK”.
Why did Campbell delete her first tweet which read that she had been invited on the tour and replaced it with one which read that she was in the country for an event organized by ThisDay Newspapers; and had just happened on the president’s entourage?
A presidency source who was working the phones as the debate raged on Twitter, explained all that transpired to Pulse.
Naomi Campbell was in Nigeria as guest of Nduka Obaigbena, ThisDay publisher. Obaigbena is close friends with Femi Adesina who is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.
Obaigbena's ThisDay annually puts together the 'Arise Fashion week' where hot models in scantily clad attires, strut the runways and red carpets.
Obaigbena had asked Adesina if he would be able to pull off a photo-op for his guest with the president.
No problem, Adesina told Obaigbena. Just bring her over.
Adesina thereafter fixed it all.
After Campbell put out her first tweet which explicitly stated that she had been invited by the president on the tour, presidential aides rang Adesina to relay the Twitter blow-back to Obaigbena.
The ThisDay publisher was told to instruct his guest, Campbell, to delete her first tweet without delay, because it was rubbing the president the wrong way and had been completely taken out of context.
Campbell then deleted her tweet as instructed.
Soon after, presidential aide Ahmad sent out his disclaimer tweet and Campbell followed up with another.
Obaigbena wasn't immediately available for comments and Adesina told Pulse over the phone that he was too busy to comment on the subject.
President Buhari is back in Abuja after a two-day working trip to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
It was his first official trip to Lagos since he was elected president in 2015 with help from the godfather of Lagos and Southwest politics, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.