Claim: Nigerian professor and Dan David Prize winner, Saheed Aderinto, requested Peter Obi’s mandate from the president-elect, Tinubu.
Verdict: FALSE. Our findings show that the account is a parody. Saheed Aderinto does not have a Twitter account.
Nigerian creatives typically perform well in global scenes like Saheed Aderinto, a Professor of African history and African diaspora studies at the Florida International University, recently did.
On February 28, 2023, he went on his Facebook account to announce his clinching of the prestigious Dan David prize of $300,000, equivalent to N220 million. Mr Aderinto is the first Nigerian to win the award.
Soon after, his achievement attracted the attention of social media users, including the Chairperson Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa (@abikedabiri), who celebrated Mr Aderinto on Twitter. Congratulatory messages from prominent Nigerians and the international community soon followed this.
Amongst the congratulatory messages were those of Peter Obi and President-elect Bola Tinubu. In the messages sent by Mr Obi and Mr Tinubu, they praised Mr Aderinto for clinching the $300,000 prize, making Africans proud.
To ridicule Tinubu and project Obi, a parody Twitter user named “Saheed Aderinto (@Aderinto0)” quoted the congratulatory messages of Mr Obi and Mr Tinubu.
The parody account retweeted Obi’s congratulatory message addressing him as his President-elect while he urged Tinubu to allow the mandate of the people to prevail.
He retweeted Tinubu’s congratulatory post on March 13, 2023, while that of Obi was retweeted a day earlier, on March 12, 2023.
As of March 14, 2023, the post on Tinubu had been retweeted over 13,000 with over 27,000 likes, while Obi has over 23,000 likes and 5,665 retweets.
In the comments section for the retweet of Obi’s post, some users became cynical about the credibility of Mr Aderinto.
A Twitter handle @FabunmiAdeyemi wrote, “I am very sure that you will not win this award if you write like this, someone that came third in an election is your own President-elect. Anyway, I celebrate with you and congratulate you on the award.”
Another Twitter user, Mouthpies @amhussle, wrote, “Prof can’t afford blue tick yet won $300,000.”
Another user, Chlorpheniramine #OBIdients (@VictorIsrael), said, “e choke! I will dance like David danced. Tinubu Return our Stolen Mandate.”
We also discovered the claim was trending on Facebook. Our search showed that the posts had been trending as over 2,000 engagements as of March 14, 2023.
The post was also spotted on WhatsApp groups, TikTok and YouTube.
At the moment, Nigerians are still divided over the outcome of the presidential election as opposition parties have begun challenging the result. Therefore, considering the virality of the post and the consequences of the claims, DUBAWA deemed it necessary to verify.
A quick search of the name Saheed Aderinto on Twitter showed various mentions. DUBAWA navigated to the account name Saheed Aderinto writing under (@Aderinto0). The account opened in 2019 has 3,193 tweets with 8,180 followers.
As of 10:25, March 14, 2023, the said account, with the username @Aderinto0 had changed to @ParodyElluP, still with the name Saheed Aderinto. However, by 11:38 am of the same day, it had changed its username to @ElluP01 with the name changed to Saheed Aderinto Parody.
However, in the comments session, his initial handle, @Aderinto0, still reflected as people mentioned him. These moves were observed by some Twitter users, while others tried to excuse his actions.
Another user @AderonkeW pointed out that the account is fake while sharing a screenshot of Aderinto’s Facebook post denouncing the Twitter handle. She alleged the person behind the parody account is one Iteola Akinpelu Oladele, calling on security operatives @OfficialDSSG to wade into the matter.
Reacting to the several comments calling him out, the person responded that nobody cares if the account is a parody.
He wrote, “They said it’s a parody account. Who cares?? Pls Return that stolen Mandate ASAP.”
He tweeted a follow-up taunting the people calling him out and challenging them to go to court.
“They said my name is not Saheed Aderinto. If you are not satisfied with it, Go to Court!!!” he wrote.
He subsequently made another tweet, confirming his account to be a parody.
A check on Aderinto’s Facebook page showed that he knows the Twitter post and has disassociated himself from the account. He also did the same on LinkedIn.
Further checks revealed that Aderinto posted his receipt of the prize on February 28, 2023, and also reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s message.
DUBAWA discovered that the Twitter account which made the controversial tweet is a parody. Mr Aderinto has also clarified that he does not have a Twitter page. Hence, the claim is false.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Harmony FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.