Tinubu’s one year: A look at misinformation spread by his media team


AS Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu clocks one year in office, one of the major turn-offs of his administration is the repeated spread of misinformation by his media team led by Ajuri Ngelale.

Being the official mouthpiece of the Nigerian president, the media team is charged with the responsibility of disseminating vital information regarding the government’s policies, directives and other developments through press releases and media appearances.

Since Tinubu became the president on May 29, 2023, his media team has made various misleading claims, thus sparking public outrage and undermining the administration’s credibility.

READ: #NigeriaDecides2023: Buhari’s aide Ajuri Ngelale makes false claims about disputed election in CNN interview

In this analysis, we take a look at some of the misleading claims made by the president’s media aides in the last one year.


Misleading Press Releases

Shortly after Tinubu was inaugurated as Nigerian president, he appointed Ajuri as Special Adviser on media and publicity. Before he joined Tinubu’s government, he was a senior special assistant on public affairs to the former Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and he has a history of sharing misinformation.

One of his major responsibilities is managing press releases for the president. Press releases are a major source of information for newsrooms and citizens generally and as such, they are expected to go through rigorous examination and verification to ensure that their contents are factual and not misleading.

In early September 2023 after Tinubu met with the leaders of the UAE, Ngelale issued a press statement claiming that the UAE authorities approved the immediate lifting of the visa ban on Nigerians and the immediate resumption of Emirates and Etihad flights to Nigeria.

A visa ban was placed on Nigeria in October 2022, as the UAE banned nationals of about 20 African countries including Nigeria from entering its borders.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the President of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan,” finalized a historic agreement on Monday in Abu Dhabi. The agreement has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travellers. As negotiated between the two Heads of State, this immediate restoration of flight activity, through these two airlines and between the two countries, does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government’’, Ajuri said.

Many Nigerians were excited upon hearing the news having come directly from the Presidency. Many news platforms also reported it but it would later turn out to be false. The UAE government itself debunked the claim before the presidency also came out for clarification.

ALSO READ: Tinubu makes false claim about Nigeria’s total population

Nine days after the misinformation regarding UAE, President Tinubu rang the closing bell of the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ) in the US.

After Tinubu rang the closing bell, Ngelale issued a press release on September 21, 2023 claiming that Tinubu was the first African leader to ring the closing bell of NASDAQ. This is not true.

An internet search showed that President Jakaya Kilwete of Tanzania had in September 2011 rung the NASDAQ closing bell – 12 years before Tinubu did it, thus showing lack of due diligence by the president’s official spokesman.

Announcing the appointment of the Director-General (DG) of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ajuri issued a statement claiming that Zubaida Umar is the first woman to be appointed as the agency’s head. This was also false!

Findings showed that the first DG of NEMA, Oluremi Olowu is a woman. Olowu served from 1998 to 2002 after which she voluntarily retired to join politics. 


Onanuga’s misleading video on Peter Obi

On February 29, 2024, Bayo Onanuga who is the president’s Special Adviser on information and strategy posted a video on X with a claim that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in Nigeria’s 2023 general election, Peter Obi, was “making a case” for online fraudsters.

“Peter Obi makes case for Yahoo Yahoo boys. Incredible he could use one wrong to justify another. What a leader!” he posted.

In the 43-second clip, Obi is heard saying that the authorities were “chasing young boys with computers and say they are doing yahoo-yahoo when people are stealing billions, which we have as a government”.

But Onanuga’s claim is misleading because the video he shared had been cut in the middle to portray Obi as an advocate of online fraud. 

In the full video published on YouTube by Channels Television on February 26, 2024, Obi was commenting on the government’s clampdown on bureau de change operators (BDCs), calling the move ill-advised.

“Today, we spend more time chasing young boys with computers saying they are doing Yahoo Yahoo when people are stealing the billions, which we have as a government,” Obi added.

He also clarified that he was not excusing any crime adding that the priority should be on public officials looting public funds.

“I am not encouraging anybody to steal, but we’ll deal with those stealing our common resources first,” he noted.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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