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Did Tinubu call Buhari an ethnic bigot and religious fanatic?

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CLAIM: Buhari is an agent of destabilization, ethnic bigot & religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethno-centrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity”- ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, 2003. BAT was right — Femi Fani Kayode, July 2019

CONCLUSION: Partially True

EVIDENCE: Although the quote is not exactly right, it cannot be said to be entirely false as it contains elements of the actual quote albeit not in the same order and with some additions

FULL TEXT:

On Thursday 25 July, the verified twitter handle of Femi Fani Kayode tweeted: @MBuhari is an agent of destabilization, ethnic bigot & religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity”- ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, 2003. BAT was right.  

This quote has been used by many Nigerians including ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo. This happened amidst the build-up to the 2019 elections in a press statement widely published in the Nigerian Media on 21 January

The statement goes, “Bola Tinubu’s statement about Muhammadu Buhari in 2003 (2007) is fairly prophetic, ‘Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilization, ethnic bigot and religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity.’”  

Additionally, Hope for Nigeria – a PDP/Atiku apologist Facebook page used the same quote on 22 February, during the campaigns for the General Election.

How True is this Claim?

 A google search on the claim leads to Wiki Leaks, a non-profit organisation that publishes news leaks and confidential media materials provided by anonymous sources.

Wiki Leaks shows that Tinubu made some comments about Buhari in the build-up to the 2003 Presidential Election while having a conversation with a US diplomat. This took place when Tinubu was the Lagos Governor and was contesting as the Vice President of Atiku Abubakar under the support of the defunct Action Congress (AC) in an election Muhammadu Buhari was also contesting under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). 

The leaked confidential transcripts from the US Diplomatic Library by WikiLeaks was labelled Lagos State Governor’s views on Iraq, National elections, and AGOA  and was filed on Friday 21, February 2003 with canonical id: 03LAGOS369_a and was classified as a confidential document.

The confidential document was a conversation between Mr Tinubu and the visiting DAS Pamela Bridgewater in the presence of the consulate general. This took place at a luncheon on the 16th of February and was recorded by US diplomats. The then Lagos state Governor went on to comment on national elections, and told the US Diplomats that:

“Moreover, Obasanjo is the only candidate who stands a chance of blocking his rival, General Muhammadu Buhari, whose ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity. Buhari and his ilk are agents of destabilization who would be far worse than Obasanjo.” 

There is however no evidence that Mr Tinubu repeated the same statement at an ACN rally while campaigning for Atiku as suggested by the press statement of Obasanjo. 

Conclusion:

Although the quote is not exactly right, it cannot be said to be entirely false as it contains elements of the actual quote albeit not in the same order. More so, there is no evidence that the quote was said in public or at a political rally. It is, thus, PARTIALLY TRUE.

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