The Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign is trying to counter what it describes as “lies” made by the information minister, Lai Mohammed, by telling lies of its own. In a statement on Friday, the campaign claimed that it has been endorsed by The Economist.
“The latest endorsement of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, by the Economist Magazine, puts to lies the recent ridiculous claims made by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that the international media is askance of the candidature of Mr. Abubakar,” the statement read.
Just that their statement is a lie. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) did not endorse Atiku, although it predicted a win for him.
Here is what the EIU actually said in its October 17th Briefing sheet on Nigeria: “The Economist Intelligence Unit expects that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, will lose power at the February 2019 elections and the next government will be led by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, although his administration will be fragile.”
There was nothing in that statement or indeed in the entire Briefing sheet that sounded like an endorsement.
The Atiku statement went further to claim that: “This is the second endorsement in as many months by the world’s number one economic and policy magazine. An endorsement based on the clarity of vision and the detailed policies of the PDP’s candidate when compared to the vague and empty promises of the incumbent All Progressive Congress administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. As the Economist rightly states, the issues in 2019 are “popular frustration over the rise in joblessness and poverty (two of the biggest voter concerns) on Mr. Buhari’s watch, as well as growing insecurity in central Nigeria.
“However, we thank The Economist for proving that no matter how far and fast falsehood has traveled, it must eventually be overtaken by truth.”
Again, that is not true. Neither the first nor the second prediction of the publication endorsed the PDP candidate.
Bottom line: Atiku’s team is overplaying its hand. It is unlikely that the heavily staffed campaign team is unaware of the difference between a forecast and an endorsement. They have the momentum at the moment but spreading falsehoods like this does no good for the PDP candidate’s already fragile credibility.