Fact Check

Posts falsely claim Nigerian governor told the ruling party’s presidential candidate to quit over age

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Social media posts shared a video purportedly showing the governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state urging the ruling party’s candidate Bola Tinubu to withdraw from the presidential race because of his advanced age. But the claim is false: AFP Fact Check found that the clip was incorrectly translated as well as wrongly dubbed in English. Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who spoke Hausa in the footage, was talking about himself stepping down next year and being too tired to continue in office.

“If El-Rufai can disagree to BAT presidency, you must be a fool to want him (sic),” reads a tweet from November 19, 2022. “BAT” refers to 70-year-old Tinubu, whose full name is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on November 21, 2022

The tweet features a 16-second video of El-Rufai at a July 2022 press conference speaking in Hausa, one of the major languages spoken in northern Nigeria.

An English quote contained in the tweet claims El-Rufai said the following about Tinubu: “Since Asiwaju knows he’s gotten to the age that he no longer has the strength, he should leave it to those with the strength & we’ve been discussing with him even 2days ago we discussed that & he refused (sic).”

The tweet has been both retweeted and liked more than 6,000 times and was posted by an account that supports opposition candidate Peter Obi.

Reno Omokri, a former presidential spokesman and member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, shared the video with an out-of-sync English voice-over. He posted it to Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok where he has collectively amassed more than two million followers and subscribers.

Other Facebook accounts also shared the doctored video including here, here, and here.

El-Rufai and Tinubu belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The Kaduna state governor was instrumental in securing Tinubu’s nomination as the party’s presidential candidate in June.

Despite questions about Tinubu’s age, El-Rufai said APC governors in northwest Nigeria agreed he was the only candidate they could easily “sell” to voters in the region.

The claim that he publicly announced his opposition to Tinubu’s presidential bid is false.

Retirement talk

Using the InVID video verification tool, AFP Fact Check traced the clip to a Facebook Live broadcast of a press conference held by El-Rufai on July 27, 2022. He spoke about past presidential elections, his choice of a successor as governor, and rumours that he was interested in being Tinubu’s running mate.

In the video, El-Rufai spoke Hausa. AFP Fact Check’s translation reveals El-Rufai was referring to himself and expressing his feelings on his own retirement.

“I’m 62 this year and I’ll be 63 next year,” El-Rufai said about 30 minutes into the video. “If you reach that age, I think I should be grateful to God and leave the job for others to do because I’m becoming weak, but some did not accept the excuses I gave. Even Asiwaju, we are still talking with him on the excuses I gave but we will continue to discuss it.”

He had previously said he would step down at the end of his second term in May 2023.

“I’ll be 63 next year. So, I prefer to look at other options to contribute to the development of my country,” El-Rufai told local broadcaster Channels TV in March, insisting he was “tired”.

His media aide Abdallah Abdallah took to Twitter to dismiss the video dubbed in English as “doctored”.

El-Rufai himself retweeted Abdallah’s thread and several other tweets that clarified his comments at the press conference.

Tinubu publicly pleaded with El-Rufai on October 15, 2022, to be a part of his government in Kaduna if he won the presidential election scheduled for February 23, 2022.

“We are not going to let you run away,” Tinubu said at the 7th edition of the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, before adding that his government would need El-Rufai’s “vision, creativity and resilience.”

Tinubu’s age and health have been subjects of controversy. AFP Fact Check has debunked claims linked to him here, here and here.

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