EXPLAINER: How political candidates are becoming victims of mal-information ahead of Nigeria’s election

Elections in Nigeria are characterised by dramatic downturns from members of one political party to their opponents. 

At every election season, it is common to see politicians and their followers dissing their counterparts in other parties to discredit them. 

While fact-checking organisations like DUBAWA and others are leading the war against mis- and disinformation, mal-information remains an aspect of the information disorder rearing its ugly head.

What is mal-information?

Mal-information, according to UNESCO, is information that is based on reality but is used to inflict harm on a person, organisation or country. It further explains that mal-information is true information that violates a person’s privacy without public interest justification. 

At some times, true information about the sexual orientation of a person, the health status of a member of his family or occupation that has nothing to do with public interest is bandied at political rallies to discredit the candidacy of the opponents. 

Ahead of Nigeria’s much-awaited elections, DUBAWA examines some scenarios of mal-information in the current political campaign in the country.

  1. Funke Akindele

Funke Akindele is the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos state and has been severely subjected to mal-information. The politician and actress have come under fire since the party presented her as running mate to its flag bearer in Lagos, Olajide Adediran (Jandor).

Prior to the announcement by the party, Akindele’s separation from her husband, Abdulrasheed Bello, aka JJC Skillz, elicited heated reactions on social media owing to her popularity. JJC Skillz had announced on his Instagram page, noting that things had gone beyond repair between the pair.

Some Nigerians on social media have mocked her political ambition based on her divorce. Following Akindele’s unveiling as running mate to Adediran, some social media users said the actress should ‘focus more on fixing her home’ than pursuing a political ambition.

Recently, at a rally organised for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos state, attendees dissed the aspirants, noting that both Funke and Jandor had no significant other in their lives. 

They chanted in Yoruba saying, “Funke o l’oko, Jandor o l’aya, e ba wa so fún wọn kò sáré ṣe wedding,” meaning Funke has no husband, Jandor has no wife, let them quickly get married. 

Does her marital status affect her ability to govern if elected? Surely not.

  1. Atiku Abubakar

Former vice-president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, has also been a subject of mal-information in recent times owing to his polygamous nature. 

The information available online shows that Atiku currently has four wives, having separated from two of them with a total of 29 children. The wives are Titilayo Albert; Ladi Yakubu; Princess Rukaiyatu Mustafa; Fatima Shettima; Jennifer Douglas, and the Moroccan lady.

As the election draws near, some Nigerians have taken to social media to condemn Mr Atiku’s marital status claiming he will fund his wives and many children’s lifestyle with Nigeria’s money. They added that this would simply increase the cost of governance, which may impoverish millions of Nigerians, as seen here, here, here and here

EXPLAINER: How political candidates are becoming victims of mal-information ahead of Nigeria's election
EXPLAINER: How political candidates are becoming victims of mal-information ahead of Nigeria's election
EXPLAINER: How political candidates are becoming victims of mal-information ahead of Nigeria's election
EXPLAINER: How political candidates are becoming victims of mal-information ahead of Nigeria's election
Screenshots of posts on Twitter identifying Atiku’s wives.
  1. Peter Obi 

The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is another victim of mal-information. 

While the Labour party presidential candidate had been criticised severally for leaving the PDP to contest under the Labour Party, a social media user recently mocked Mr Obi over the occupation of his daughter, Gabriella Nwamaka Frances, who had worked as a secondary school teacher in Lagos state. 

Mr Obi, during a Town Hall meeting (1:23:10) with students in Bayelsa state, said his daughter, who had her elementary level to University education outside the country, preferred to work as a secondary school teacher in a public school in Lagos.

A Facebook user made use of the information to mock Mr Obi. The user stated that the presidential candidate could not get a better job for his daughter despite his influence as the former governor of Anambra state. He argued that there was no way such a person would create job opportunities for Nigerian youths if elected president.

  1. Datti Baba-Ahmed

Datti Baba-Ahmed, the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, was also mocked over his family background. Baba-Ahmed recently got emotional on TV, noting that his family had been ridiculed since he joined the vice-presidential race.

According to history, Baba-Ahmed’s father, now deceased, was an Arab cattle trader from Mauritania who was said to be a professor and expert on Islamic jurisprudence.

Meanwhile, in December 2022, Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani Kayode, posted a video of the vice-presidential candidate describing the latter as a “Mauritanian cow-lover”. 

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