A spokesman for Nigeria’s ruling party falsely claims state elected first female governor

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A day after Nigeria held gubernatorial elections on March 19, 2023, a spokesman for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) announced that the party’s governorship candidate in Adamawa state had become the country’s first elected female governor. But the claim is false: the electoral commission declared the results in Adamawa inconclusive on March 21, 2023 and ordered fresh ballots at several polling stations in the state. The date is yet to be confirmed.

“Congrats Aisha Binani for being Nigeria's first elected female state governor. We all love you for opening new frontier for all Nigerian women (sic),” reads a tweet shared on March 19, 2023 and retweeted more than 380 times.

A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on March 21, 2023

The post was published by Bayo Onanuga, a campaign spokesman for the APC’s presidential candidate Bola Tinubu who won the general elections on February 25, 2023.

Several accounts on TikTok and Facebook made the same claim, including here and here.

Also known as Aisha Binani, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed was the APC’s gubernatorial candidate in the key northeastern Adamawa state.

Her candidacy has been the subject of other false claims (archived here) debunked by AFP Fact Check.

Ahmed was elected to the House of Representatives in 2011 as a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

She later defected to the APC and joined Nigeria’s senate in 2019.

She won the APC primary nomination to run for the Adamawa seat in May 2022. Although a federal high court initially quashed her nomination, an appeal tribunal later reinstated her as a candidate.

She was the only female governorship candidate of any major party in Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

But the claim she has already won the governorship election is false.

“Inconclusive” election

At the time of Onanuga’s misleading tweet, the results of Adamawa state were not yet known.

Elections were held on March 18, 2023, to choose governors in 28 of Nigeria's 36 states and state assembly lawmakers. Governors in the remaining eight states had earlier been chosen in by-elections due to court rulings.

Results released on March 21, 2023, showed that the APC won the majority of governorships.

However, the poll in Adamawa was declared "inconclusive" as the number of voters unable to cast their ballot was greater than the margin between the two frontrunners.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said (archived here) on March 21, 2023 it would set a new date for elections in areas of Adamawa where people had been unable to vote, and thereafter declare the state-wide result.

Female candidates

If she wins, Ahmed will be the country’s first female elected governor and only the second woman to be sworn in as a governor after Dame Virginia Etiaba.

Ahmed is the second woman nominated as a governorship candidate by APC. The party nominated Aisha Alhassan for Taraba state in 2015.

Although Alhassan lost, an election tribunal declared her the winner. She eventually lost the case after an appellate court said her rival, PDP’s Darius Ishaku, was validly elected.

Both Ahmed and Alhassan are from the Boko Haram-ravaged northeastern part of Nigeria.

Nigeria elections 2023