The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his counterpart on the platform of Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, were yesterday locked in verbal war over the former’s accusation of the latter’s supporters of mudslinging and spreading fake news against other candidates, especially him, ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Tinubu’s campaign organisation had called on the LP candidate to rein in his supporters, who it accused of spreading fake news about its candidate but Obi’s camp in a swift reaction dismissed insinuations of his supporters spreading fake news about any candidate, saying it was in line with Tinubu camp’s plan to run a campaign based on issues.
Tinubu in a statement by his Campaign Organization yesterday, had urged Obi to caution his supporters and allow the election circle be about issues that will advance the growth, progress and stability of Nigeria.
Director, Media and Communications at the Tinubu Campaign Organization, TCO, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, who signed the statement, also admonished the Labour Party presidential candidate to get his supporters to desist from spreading lies, malice and denigrating other candidates, especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
TCO further stated that “Nigeria will be better for it and the electoral process will be enriched if the 2023 presidential campaign sticks to issues of good governance that will lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty rather than being dominated by the ravings of guttersnipes, who do not wish the country well,” the statement added.
Onanuga noted that the TCO saw the need to appeal to Obi to rein in his supporters after investigating the origin of the fake report claiming that the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, wrote a letter to the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, asking him to support Peter Obi and take care of his health.
According to him, the Ghanaian president via his official Twitter account has vehemently debunked the fake news as a product of deliberate mischief, with the intent to deceive the public.
“I have written no such letter to the APC leader, and it will not occur to me to do so. Ghana and Nigeria boast of decades of cordial, strong and brotherly relations, and I am not going to be the one to interfere in the internal affairs and politics of Nigeria,” the Ghanaian President had said via Twitter.
Continuing, Onanuga said: “We have found that the fake news about Akufo-Addo’s letter was first published on June 22 by a rogue platform, whose url reads as worlsnews.space (sic) and site identity as World of News.
“A content analysis of the site clearly showed that it is a Biafra news platform. The fake news was reposted on Facebook by Peter Obi Support Group, same day – a clear proof that Biafra campaigners and Peter Obi supporters are the same.
“Both the Facebook account and the website are replete with fake stories about Bola Tinubu, including a fake story credited to former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, alleging that Tinubu demanded N50billion monthly payment from him.
”The spuriousness of the statement is in the evidence that Lagos did not begin to clock N50billion revenue until after Ambode left office. Tinubu could not have demanded N50billion monthly payment from Ambode when the state government didn’t make such in a month throughout the tenure of Mr. Ambode.
“The pirate website, which the Facebook account feeds on, also parades malicious fake news and headlines such as ‘I am old, but my blood is young, please vote for me – Tinubu begs youth.’
“There is also the most wicked of all headlines: ‘When I become president, I will build more prison (sic) for Igbos and IPOB members – Tinubu’.
“The big surprise in all of these is that all the headlines have no supporting stories, and clicking them may bring virus to your computer.
“We have come to a point where it becomes imperative to tell Mr. Obi to show leadership and disavow his supporters who are employing fake news and disinformation as deliberate tools to deceive and poison the minds of unsuspecting Nigerians.”
Issue-based campaign: I agree with Tinubu — Obi
But reacting to the allegations by the Tinubu Campaign Organisation yesterday, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, threw his weight behind the call by Tinubu for the campaign, whenever it starts, to be based on issues and not personality.
A statement signed by Obi’s Media Adviser, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, said the statement by the APC advising candidates to “desist from spreading lies, malice and denigrating other candidates,” exactly mirrored what Obi had propagated over the years.
He said if supporters were mindful of this, some articles published in some newspapers against Obi would not have been published, including those with offensive titles.
On the alleged fake letter from the President of Ghana and the alleged request of N50 billion monthly payment, Obienyem said that while Obi was not bothered about their authenticity, it was wickedness to link them to his supporters, insisting that any publication from Obi’s group was always properly signed and the source clearly spelt out.
Obienyem, who also described as the height of mischief, the attempt to link Obi’s campaign to IPOB, said: “We know that things are not well in Nigeria.
We know of the agitations in different parts of the country, our principal has always said what he would do with such organizations to stop their agitation and bring them back to Nigeria as one happy family.
”Instead of others saying what they will do, they are here creating more problems by trying vainly and wickedly to link their fellow contestants to some of those organisations.”
He expressed happiness that Nigerians knew the truth and that such gimmicks used to deceive them would no longer fly.
Obienyem said that right from Obi’s position as governor of Anambra State, he was not known for the habit of attacking people or building lies against others, adding that his disposition was contrary to those of some of his opponents, whom, he said, actually originated most of those fake news, published them under false names and turned round to ascribe them to Obi or his supporters.