Audio glitch in Nigerian presidential candidate's speech gives false impression of verbal gaffe

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As the presidential race in Nigeria heats up, candidates are in the crossfire of disinformation. A video viewed tens of thousands of times allegedly shows the ruling party's candidate, Bola Tinubu, describing his rival Atiku Abubakar as the former governor of southeastern Anambra State – instead of another key opponent, Peter Obi. On the campaign trail, Tinubu has come under scrutiny for making verbal gaffes. But in this case, the claim is false. AFP Fact Check found that the clip appears to have an audio glitch which alters its original meaning. Other footage and transcripts of the speech show Tinubu was referring to Obi, who served as Anambra governor several times, including most recently from June 2007 to March 2014.

“When Atiku was the governor of Anambra State? Tinubu is finished”, reads a tweet published on January 25, 2023.

A screenshot of the false post, taken on January 30, 2023

The video, which has been viewed more than 157,000 times, shows Tinubu speaking at a rally in southwestern Ondo State.

After mentioning Abubakar, Tinubu appears to say: “Instead, he [Abubakar] would rather sell your birthright to the highest bidder and his cronies and run off with the proceeds... has [had] the chance to show how progressive he could be when he was governor of Anambra State.”

A static sound is heard right before Tinubu seems to refer to Abubakar as Anambra’s former head.

Tinubu is the candidate for Nigeria's ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and has emerged as one of the top three contenders among the 18 candidates vying for the presidency in the election on February 25, 2023.

He has come under scrutiny throughout the campaign for making verbal gaffes and being difficult to understand during speeches. Most recently, he was mocked online for using a teleprompter during an event in London and allowing his staff to answer questions for him.

But the claim about Tinubu citing the wrong Anambra governor is false.

Audio glitch

By searching online for keywords such as “Tinubu presidential rally Ondo State,” AFP Fact Check found the full video of the speech made in early January and live-streamed by Lagos-based broadcaster TVC Nigeria.

In the official TVC clip at 16'40", listeners can hear the same audio as in the clip shared on Twitter, in which Tinubu appears to misstate Abubakar’s background.

However, by using the same keyword search, AFP then found a second live-streamed video from the same event, this time produced by Vote APC, in which Tinubu clearly refers to Obi as the governor of Anambra.

In this video, at 56'14", Tinubu talks about Abubakar, saying: "He would rather sell your birthright to the highest bidder and his cronies. And run off with the'll be left with nothing."

He adds: "Obi has [had] a chance to show how progressive he could be when he was the governor of Anambra State."

The keyword search also yielded several news reports about the speech, including from TVC Nigeria, as well as an official transcript, in which Tinubu refers to Obi as the former governor.

Contacted by AFP Fact Check, TVC Nigeria's news director Stella Din-Jacob said they would “revert [the video] as soon as possible", but did not elaborate further on the apparent audio glitch.

Candidates’ health questioned

The health of candidates running in the February 25 ballot is a sensitive topic in Nigeria, especially after President Buhari spent months away for treatment in his first term. In 2010, President Umaru Yar'Adua died in office after a long illness.

The contenders are being scrutinised for any indication that they are not fit for office.

AFP Fact Check has debunked multiple false claims on the topic, particularly about Tinubu.

Find our complete election-related coverage here.

Nigeria elections 2023