The Kogi state off-cycle elections were conducted on 16th November 2019. Twenty-four political parties participated in the election, but there were three frontrunners: Musa Wada of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Yahaya Bello of All People’s Congress (APC), and Natasha Akpoti of Social Democratic Party (SDP). Given the trend of disinformation in previous elections held in the country, the Centre for Democracy and Development
(CDD) chose to intervene in two ways:
- CDD conducted disinformation mapping, aimed at identifying key actors and mechanisms of action in Kogi’s disinformation ecosystem;
- This mapping informed a stated-based fact-checking structure that sought to identify and counter disinformation spread before, during and right after the election. Our methodology for disinformation mapping involved a combination of a desk review of reports on political and electoral trends and in-person unstructured interviews. Disinformation mapping revealed that false narratives were spread by actors called “Data Boys”
and “Shekpe Boys” who operate in online and offline spaces.
- The primary mechanism of action was tailoring messages to exploit ethnic cleavages in Kogi as they largely coincide with partisan divides. The tension between the two major ethnic groups, Igala and Ebira,
was exploited the most. These messages leverage confirmation bias to entrench polarization; their efficacy is enhanced by high levels of poverty and illiteracy in Kogi state. Our pre-election report details specific sources of disinformation.