Nigerian opposition leader Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) has gained wide popularity with young people seeking better prospects. Social media post recently claimed that the country’s leading opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), used Obi’s photo on its campaign materials because their own candidate “is no longer sellable”. The claim is false: AFP Fact Check found that the image actually features Hilary Ibegbulem, an aide to the running mate of the PDP’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.
“PDP is now using @PeterObi picture to deceive voters. Their candidate @atiku is no longer sellable (sic),” reads a tweet published on January 1, 2023, accusing the PDP of “impersonation” for which it “should be sued.”
A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on January 4, 2023
The tweet features a 29-second-long video showing men loading what looks like bags of rice into a truck. A picture of a man wearing glasses and the words “Atiku and Okowa” are printed on the bags.
Shared by a pro-Obi account, the tweet has been liked and retweeted more than 800 times, and the clip viewed more than 13,500 times.
Obi is among the three leading presidential candidates — including Abubakar and the ruling All Progressives Congress’ Bola Tinubu — hoping to win over voters next month.
A few polls have since projected him to win the February election ahead of Tinubu and Abubakar.
Last December, a coalition of Obi supporters dissociated their candidate from campaign posters for Abubakar that featured Obi's photo, saying that the posters were “an attempt at taking advantage of the popularity of HE Peter Obi.”
But the claim that his image was used on PDP campaign souvenirs seen in the video is false.
A PDP presidential campaign council member, Ose Anenih, said on Twitter on January 2, 2023, that the photo printed on the bags belonged to Hilary Obioma Ibegbulem, a member of the party in Delta state. Anenih shared Ibegbulem’s picture to back his claim.
Ibegbulem is the principal secretary to Delta state governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is Abubakar’s running mate.
A keyword search for “Hilary Ibegbulem” led to a Facebook post shared on December 27, 2022, by Dantes Odogwu, a media aide to Okowa. The post features two pictures: one shows several 10-kilogramme bags of rice in a truck; the other shows similar bags of rice on the ground.
Odogwu said the pictures showed bags of rice donated by Ibegbulem to Odogwu’s wife for her 50th birthday celebrations.
In the pictures Odogwu shared, the names of the PDP’s presidential candidate and his running mate, as well as those of a few of the party’s candidates for other positions, were printed on the bags. Ibegbulem’s name also appeared on the bags.
Similarities between the branded bags as seen in the video (left) and in a picture shared by Dantes Odogwu (right)
Moreover, the photo of Ibegbulem shared by Anenih and the one printed on the bags appear identical.
Similarities between photos of Ibegbulem, left, and the one seen on the branded bags, taken on January 4, 2023
Ibegbulem’s name could also be seen on a bag at the 17-second mark in the clip.
Screenshot from the video showing “Hilary Obioma Ibegbulem” printed on the bags