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No, the sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar has not endorsed Nigerian presidential candidate Peter Obi

IN SHORT: The rumours that a Nigerian traditional leader, the sultan of Sokoto, has endorsed the Labour Party’s presidential candidate Peter Obi are just that – rumours, to be ignored.

Has the influential sultan of Sokoto endorsed Peter Obi, the presidential candidate for Nigeria’s Labour Party in the February 2023 elections?

The sultan of Sokoto, alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, is the ruler of the formerly independent Islamic caliphate in northwestern Nigeria and president-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

On 19 January 2023 a long post was shared on Facebook, with the claim that it was written by Abubakar.

It reads, in part: Hold me responsible if Peter Obi didn't perform well, the problem of the North is from the north, not Peter Obi or an Igbo man, it will be worst and more deadly for the North if Tinubu wins, if they tell you an Igbo man is the problem of Nigeria, tell them Igbo man never rule Nigeria before and north is world poverty capital.” 

The supposed quote was also republished in other Facebook posts.

But has the sultan of Sokoto endorsed Obi? We checked.


Fake endorsement

On 20 January, Abubakar’s media team said the quote circulating on social media was fake, in a statement signed by Bashir Adefaka.

It said the sultan would “continue to support all efforts that will lead to the success of the election process. So, let any incoherent claims of naysayers be ignored. The Sultan is not a politician”.

Obi meets with Abubakar

In February, Obi, who is Christian and from southeastern Nigeria, and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, visited the palace of the sultan.

The visit came two weeks after the sultan distanced himself from the message circulating on social media that he had endorsed Obi for president.

Other presidential candidates have also visited the sultan’s palace  in the ancient city of Sokoto during their campaigns, but he has not publicly endorsed any candidate.

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