Nigeria election posters of rivals as running mates are from 2019, not 2023

A video of Nigerian campaign posters featuring political rivals Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi as presidential running mates has spread confusion and sparked misleading claims in the lead-up to the election in February. AFP Fact Check found that the posters date back to the 2019 ballot before Obi defected from Abubakar’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the Labour camp. Abubakar’s actual running mate in the 2023 ballot is Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Obi, meanwhile, has entered the race on a Labour ticket.

“PDP in Bauchi State now plaster Peter Obi’s poster as Atiku’s Vice President. I thought they said Waziri is popular,” reads a tweet, which has drawn 170,000 views since it was published on December 24, 2022.

Waziri refers to Abubakar, who gained the traditional title Waziri Adamawa from the Adamawa Emirate Council in 2017. The Waziri is considered the “most senior kingmaker in the emirate”, referring to the traditional Adamawa state in northeast Nigeria.

A screenshot of the tweet with the false posters, taken on January 20, 2023.

The tweet, shared by an account called Nefertiti, features photos of posters of Abubakar and Obi with the slogan “Better Life for Nigerians”. A logo attributed to the “UpNorth Ambassadors for Peter Obi” is seen in the left-hand corner of the photos.

The post also included a video featuring the same UpNorth Ambassadors logo.

“Today’s date is December 24, 2022, so there is a confusion here in Bauchi State that people are saying that Peter Obi is now in PDP, he is together with Atiku… So we want Labour Party to tell our president, our candidate, Peter Obi, to come to Bauchi State and tell our people that he is in Labour Party,” says the person filming the footage while walking on dusty roads.

The clip then cuts to a WhatsApp message calling the posters “deliberate misinformation”.

Obi is among the three leading presidential candidates — along with Abubakar and the ruling All Progressives Congress’ Bola Tinubu — hoping to win over voters on February 25, 2023.

The race remains tight, with a few local polls projecting Obi’s win.

But the claim that he has teamed up with Abubakar is false.

2019 election context

Using a keyword search for “Atiku Obi election poster,” AFP Fact Check found a 2018 article with a picture of a similar poster of Abubakar and Obi. It also shows the slogan “Better Life for Nigerians” and the PDP’s logo.

“The Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alh. Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, will, on Wednesday, hold a Town Hall Meeting with the Aba Business Community,” reads the story on the Opera news site.

A screenshot of the 2018 Opera News article, taken on January 20, 2023

In 2018, Abubakar chose Obi as his running mate for the national elections held the following year. Both were in the PDP at the time.

However, Obi defected from the PDP and became the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in May 2022.

Obi named former Kaduna State senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as his running mate in the 2023 elections.

Fears of voter confusion

By searching online using a keyword search for phrases such as “UpNorth Ambassadors Nigeria,” AFP Fact Check found their Twitter account, which featured a post with the video later shared by Nefertiti.

“The PDP are telling people that @peterobi is contesting under the PDP,” reads part of the tweet, published on December 24, 2022.

A screenshot of the tweet from UpNorth Ambassadors, taken on January 23, 2023

AFP Fact Check then found the website of the UpNorth Ambassadors for Obi, which describes itself as a “support group for the Obi/Datti 2023 movement”.

Obi’s running mate is often referred to by his middle name, Datti.

When contacted by AFP Fact Check, UpNorth Ambassadors confirmed that their Bauchi State coordinator, Nweze Tochukwu Tobit, took the video on December 24, 2022, in Sabon Kaura in Bauchi State.

The collective said they first saw these posters appear in Ganjuwa, a local government area in Bauchi State.

When asked why they thought the posters had been put up, the UpNorth Ambassadors said the aim was ostensibly “to misinform Peter Obi lovers and [lead] them to vote for Atiku” in next month’s election.

The group feared that voters might get confused and cast their ballot for the PDP, thinking they were voting for Obi.

In their tweet, the grassroots collective called on the Labour Party to send representatives to Bauchi and clarify that Obi was their presidential candidate.

The group said it also went on local radio shows to draw attention to the posters.

Misinformation around the 2023 elections

Disinformation has dogged campaigning ahead of next month’s polls.

AFP debunked another claim in which Obi’s image was falsely associated with the PDP logo ahead of February’s elections.

You can find the rest of our other election-related coverage here.