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Nigerians beware, newly inaugurated Kogi governor did not prostrate himself before past governor during swearing-in ceremony

IN SHORT: Social media posts circulating in Nigeria claim a video shows the new governor of Kogi state prostrating himself before the immediate past governor. But this is false and the video shows the new deputy governor.

On 12 November 2023, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) announced Usman Ododo as the winner of the Kogi state governorship election for the All Progressives Congress party.

Ododo was sworn in as governor on 27 January 2024. The swearing-in ceremony was extensively covered by the Nigerian press. 

In a video of the ceremony, a man and woman can be seen lying down flat in front of the outgoing governor of the state, Yahaya Bello.

Some Facebook users are claiming that the man in the video is Ododo, the new governor. One post making this claim is dated 27 January 2024 and reads, in part: “I am happy for Kogi people that Yahaya Bello is leaving but sorry for them that the new Governor is the prostrator in chief.”

Africa Check previously debunked a false claim that the new governor created an office for the immediate past governor. 

A post on X (formerly Twitter) includes a screenshot from the video and the claim the governor is prostrating himself before Bello, the immediate past governor. The post has over 60,000 views, with many comments supporting the claim.

Facebook posts with the same claim can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here. An Instagram post with the same claim account from an account with over 16,000 followers has been viewed more than 5,000 times.

People in Kogi state may perceive such a gesture as an act of godfatherism. Godfatherism is a political term used primarily in Nigeria, where an older or more experienced politician uses their influence to improve the standing of another, usually younger, politician, often within the same political party. 

But is the man flat on the ground in the video and screenshot circulating on social media the new governor of Kogi state? We checked. 


Deputy governor showing respect

A new state governor prostrating himself in front of the past governor would be a newsworthy event and would be reported by the Nigerian media. However, Africa Check found no credible report of anything like this. 

But we found several reports that the person bowing down in the video is the newly inaugurated deputy governor, Joel Oyibo, and not the governor.

Furthermore, in the video version found on the YouTube page of TVC News, the governor and his wife can be seen sitting beside Umar Ganduje, former governor of Kogi state. We also found another version of the video on Channels TV’s website.

The speaker can be heard calling the new governor to the stage as the deputy governor lies before former governor Bello.

Fact-checking false claims about perceived godfatherism or other forms of political influence helps to expose attempts to manipulate public perception and enables the public to make informed decisions.

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