Tweet makes false claims about Nigerian presidential candidate Rabiu Kwankwaso's PhD

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Political disinformation is spreading in Nigeria as voters prepare to elect a new president in February. A social media post casting doubt on the academic credentials of presidential candidate Rabiu Kwankwaso has sparked debate. The tweet insinuates that he does not hold a doctorate and claims he never published any research papers. But this is false: public records of an Indian university show Kwankwaso graduated with a PhD in engineering. He was also the lead author of a research paper published in an academic journal available online.

“Kwankwaso in March 2022, claimed to have bagged a Ph.D in Water Engineering from Sharda private university, India. A check on the varsity (sic) site shows it has no PhD. program in Water Engineering. A PhD. holder with no published academic paper(s)?” reads the tweet published on November 21, 2022, which has been retweeted more than 1,000 times and drawn 2,300 likes.

The post was posted by a Twitter user who goes by the name of Ike Ihiala. The account often shares content in support of Labour Party candidate Peter Obi.

The same claim also appeared elsewhere on Twitter and Facebook.

A screenshot showing the false tweet, taken on January 31, 2023

Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party is one of 18 contenders vying to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in a national ballot on February 25, 2023.

The tweet features a picture of him speaking at London-based think tank Chatman House, where several Nigerian election officials and presidential candidates gave talks in recent weeks.

In his appearance on January 18, 2023, Kwankwaso claimed he was more qualified for the top job than Obi.

“I'm a PhD holder in civil engineering; ask your candidate what he has,” he said. “I've been a civil servant for 17 years and not a trader.”

Kwankwaso, 66, is a two-time governor of Kano state in northwest Nigeria.

But the claim labelling him an academic fraud is false.

Doctorate from India

Using keyword searches for “Rabiu Kwankwaso and PhD”, AFP Fact Check found an official list of candidates awarded PhDs from Sharda University in India.

On the list is "Mohammed Rabiu Musa" who bagged his doctorate in civil engineering from the university in 2022.

Kwankwaso’s profile on the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) list of contestants shows his full name as "Musa Mohammed Rabiu Kwankwaso".

An affidavit submitted to INEC by Kwankwaso shows that he is officially known as “Musa Mohammed Rabiu Kwankwaso” and formerly "Musa Mohammed Rabiu".

The title of his thesis was "Design and Construction of Irrigation System in Northern Nigeria", according to the university's website.

Local newspapers, including here and here, also reported that Kwankwaso was awarded a PhD from an Indian university in March 2022.

A picture from his PhD defence was shared by a Facebook page that supports Kwankwaso, with a caption congratulating him on his successful presentation.

The same picture was also published on Kwankwaso’s official Facebook page.

Academic lead author

By searching for Kwankwaso’s name and PhD topic, AFP Fact Check found a research paper titled “Design Optimization of Water Lifting Device in Kano, Nigeria” on which he was the lead author.

It was published in November 2020 in the International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET) and remains available online.

Disinformation has dogged campaigning ahead of the polls. You can find AFP Fact Check's election-related coverage here.

Nigeria elections 2023