IN SHORT: Religion plays a prominent role in Nigerian politics, but this claim doing the rounds is false.
A post circulating on Facebook claims the presidential candidate for Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, is about to marry a Muslim wife. She would become the country’s first lady should Tinubu be elected in the 25 February 2023 elections.
The post reads: “Senator Remi Tinubu has been shoved aside because she's a Christian. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is now set *to marry a new Muslim wife* on Saturday 18th February 2023, @ Katsina.”
Katsina state is in northern Nigeria.
Attached to the post is a video claimed to be the digital invitation to Tinubu's wedding to his new bride. The nuptials will supposedly be at the Katsina Central mosque on Saturday 18 February.
This wedding date would be one week before Nigerians choose a new president.
Bola Tinubu is Muslim and is married to Oluremi Tinubu, who is Christian. Oluremi Tinubu is a third-term senator representing Lagos central district. She was also first lady of Lagos state from 1999 to 2007, when her husband was state governor.
The leadership of Nigeria has largely rotated between the north, which is majority Muslim, and the south, dominated by Christians.
A presidential ticket also tends to be split between the two religions, with the main candidate being from one and their running mate from the other.
For this reason Tinubu’s candidacy has been controversial. He is Muslim and from the south while his running mate Kashim Shettima is also Muslim, although from the north.
Some leaders had argued that for religious balance, Tinubu should have chosen a Christian running mate from the north.
Outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari, also of the APC, is Muslim while his deputy is Christian.
The claim circulating on Facebook further alleges that Tinubu is marrying a Muslim because his wife Oluremi is considered to be an “infidel”.
An infidel is a person who does not believe in a religion that someone regards as the “true” religion.
The same claim appeared on Facebook here, here and here.
So is presidential candidate Tinubu about to “shove aside” his current wife and marry a Muslim woman?
‘Infantile propaganda from the opposition’
Festus Keyamo is the spokesperson of the APC’s presidential campaign council.
He told a national newspaper that the claim was juvenile “propaganda” from rivals hoping to discourage Oluremi Tinubu’s supporters.
“It is obviously one of those infantile propaganda from the opposition. They are just desperately targeting the Christian votes that his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, is bringing to the ticket and they know she is a pastor.”
Keyamo said he “won’t be surprised” if the allegation came from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition party in the country.
The PDP’s presidential candidate is Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and one of the four frontrunners in the presidential election.
As the election draws closer there has been an increase in similar disinformation, including a claim that another presidential candidate had changed his running mate. Like that, this supposed news about Bola Tinubu should be ignored.
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