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Nigerian Presidential Candidates Trade Accusations

Nigerian presidential candidates Bola Tinubu (L), Atiku Abubakar (Middle) and Peter Obi (R) pictured.
Nigerian presidential candidates Bola Tinubu (L), Atiku Abubakar (Middle) and Peter Obi (R) pictured.

Rival presidential candidates from Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are trading accusations in the run up to next month’s election.

APC candidate Bola Tinubu and the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar have blamed the other for spreading false information ahead of the Feb. 25 vote.

On VOA’s Daybreak Africa program, Bayo Onanuga, spokesperson for the APC’s Presidential Campaign Council, told VOA the PDP has been using social media influencers to misinform Nigerians.

“The Atiku camp has been using people with influence on some platforms on social media and their agenda has been focused on malicious fake news,” Onanuga said.

“We must alert authorities that something is afoot because they have a mission to start spreading fake news and fake information all over the place to confuse people while using Hausa language,” he added.

In response to the APC’s allegations, the PDP denied spreading “fake news,” alleging that the ruling party is blaming them for an action that they are guilty of.

“The All Progressives Congress has fatally failed Nigerians whether in party politics or in governance. And as such, Nigerians are looking at a new direction,” Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesperson for the Atiku campaign, told VOA.

Leonard Anyogo, a political analyst and constitutional lawyer based in Abuja, says Nigerians are not surprised by the accusations traded between Tinubu and Abubakar.

“Nigerians have not been surprised by the accusations and counter accusations, but the general mood is that if these two candidates are accusing each other of gross abuse of power and corruption, then they are not fit to lead the country,” he said.

Contender Peter Obi of the Labor Party is benefitting from the accusations traded by his rivals, Anyogo said.

“The expectations are that the young people are going to vote for Peter Obi, so I think he may have some advantage,” he said.

Nigerians will head to the polls next month to select a new leader as outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari concludes two terms.

VOA’s Peter Clottey and James Butty contributed to this report.