FACT-CHECK: Did the Economist Magazine actually endorse Atiku as claimed by his campaign organisation?

FACT-CHECK: Did the Economist Magazine actually endorse Atiku as claimed by his campaign organisation?

- Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation claimed The Economist has endorsed the PDP presidential candidate

- The claim has, however, been fact-checked to be false

- The influential magazine has not endorsed any presidential candidate for Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election

- Its sister company, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) only predicted the outcome of the election in favour of Atiku

Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation released a statement on Friday 0ctober 26, with the claim that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, was endorsed by The Economist, an influential London-based magazine.

The campaign organisation in a statement titled “The Economist Vindicates Atiku Abubakar,” said the ‘endorsement’ by the Economist “puts to lies the recent ridiculous claims made by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that the international media is askance of the candidature of Mr Abubakar.”

Lai Mohammed, the minister of information had earlier claimed that during his recent engagement with journalists from international media organisations, he was asked why Atiku emerged the PDP presidential candidate, despite the government’s claim to fighting corruption.

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Mohammed said: “They asked me: How can you claim to have succeeded in waging war against corruption when one of the major contestants in the 2019 general elections is actually a man with stupendous wealth but cannot explain the source of his wealth?

“That baffled me a lot, because it means that we are still being perceived as a country where corruption thrives.”

Hence the statement by the Atiku campaign organisation is a direct reaction to the information minister’s claim.

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The campaign group claimed ‘the latest endorsement by the Economist’, ‘the second in two months’, is an endorsement of its candidate’s superior policies.

“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 Progressives Congress’ administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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“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,” the Atiku Campaign Organisation wrote.”

The question is: did the Economist magazine actually endorse Atiku as claimed by his campaign organisation?

Premium Times fact-checks the claim. Here are the facts:

First, in sharp contradiction to the claim by Atiku Campaign Organisation, the reports cited as containing the endorsements were not written by the Economist Magazine. Rather they were written by a sister company of the newspaper, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The EIU is the research and analysis division of the Economist Group, the parent company of the Economist magazine.

The two divisions are independent of each other. While the Economist magazine focuses on international business and world affairs news, the EIU provides forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis.

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The EIU publishes monthly country economic forecast, risk services and industrial reports. It was the EIU reports on Nigeria in July and October that the Atiku Campaign organisation was referring to and not a report written by the Economist magazine, as it wrongly claimed, the newspaper stated.

Does the Economist endorse political candidates?

Established in September 1843, the magazine’s initial editorial policy did not support taking sides in elections. However, the policy changed in 1955 when in the run-up to the 1955 United Kingdom’s parliamentary election, it dropped its neutrality in election matters and endorsed Conservative candidate, Eden Anthony.

The magazine has since endorsed political candidates in influential elections across the globe. Legit.ng gathers that the Economist endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari in the buildup to the 2015 presidential election.

However, The EIU, unlike the Economist magazine, has reportedly never endorsed candidates running for political offices.

“It merely analyses prevailing realities and trends in countries and forecasts possible political or economic outcomes,” Premium Times notes.

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Thus, what the EIU did in its July and October country reports on Nigeria was analyses of the current political developments in Nigeria.

In its October report on Nigeria, which the Atiku Campaign organisation cited as evidence of endorsement, the EIU clearly drew a parallel between the rising insecurity and what it termed “economic difficulty” and the outcome of next year’s presidential election.

“The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts ongoing severe outbreaks of instability, given slow progress on tackling numerous security and societal challenges at a time of economic difficulty,” the report said.

“With tight national elections expected in 2019, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will be focused on intra-party politics and security concerns will be sidelined. The election period itself will be a time of high risk; as a recent by-election in Osun state demonstrated, small-scale violence at the polls is highly likely, as is disputation of the results.”

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Prediction is not an endorsement

Analysing the prevailing circumstances, the EIU in the report predicted that Atiku would win the coming election. But this is not an endorsement. It is a prediction that flowed from the internal analysis by EIU personnel.

“Our baseline forecast is that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, will lose power, and that the next government will be led by Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP, the main opposition party), but instability will remain an insoluble challenge.”

The EIU explained that the reason it predicted victory for Atiku and the PDP are believed to be more popular in the south of the country while the vote from the north would be split between President Buhari and Atiku because the duo are from the north of the country.

The organisation also noted, however, that the election will be a tight race because President Buhari also has the advantage of incumbency.

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The Economist Magazine, as analysed by Premium Times did not endorse Atiku. Its sister company, the EIU, only predicted the outcome of Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election in favour of Atiku, it did not endorse the PDP presidential candidate. An endorsement is different from prediction.

VERDICT: The claim by the Atiku Campaign organisation that Atiku was endorsed by The Economist is false.

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Meanwhile, Atiku has returned to Nigeria in the early hours of Sunday, November 11 to a thorough search by state security agents.

The former vice-president returned from Dubai in a private jet around 12am, after spending over two weeks outside the country.

The Adamawa-born politician said via a tweet that he was thoroughly searched by agents of the state, but added that he can't be intimidated.

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Source: Legit.ng

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