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Fact-Checking Oby Ezekwesili At The 2019 Presidential Debate

SUMMARY:

CLAIMS:

1.60% of Nigerian women are poor

ANS: FALSE. According to the World Bank and Poverty and Equity Brief for sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of poor women in Nigeria is 53%, not 60%.

2. The structure of our economy is such that services constitute 60% of it. The services are not high-earned services, it’s low productivity services

ANS: FALSE. In a February 2017 report of the NBS, services was classified as 53.2% of Nigeria’s GDP and it consisted telecommunications and information and communication technology (ICT); financial services; tourism; and creative industries, industries that cannot be termed as low productivity.

3. 65% children of the poor do not have access to early education

ANS: TRUE. According to UNICEF, of the children aged 36- 59 months (3-5 years), only 35.6% of them receive early childhood education. By implication the remaining 64.4% of them have no access to education in their earlier age.

FULL TEXT:

On Saturday, the 19th of January 2019, three presidential candidates vying for leadership roles in Nigeria met at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja for a debate. Debates have become customary during presidential elections for candidates to discuss prevalent societal issues and their proposed policies to address them.

See our previous fact-check on the vice presidential debate.

Of the 5 main candidates that were supposed to be present at the debate, only three actually debated – Kingsley Moghalu Obi of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Peoples Congress of Nigeria (APCN). The current president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari and the former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, both declined.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of the claims she made during the debate and the truth about them:

CLAIM 1 – 60% of Nigerian women are poor

EXPLAINER – FALSE

According to the World Bank, as of April 2018, the population of females within the international benchmark for poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa was put at 53% of the entire population.

Also, the October 2018 Poverty and Equity Brief for sub-Saharan Africa (using 2009 estimates) stated that 53% of Nigerian females live below the poverty line (of $1.90 per day).

CLAIM 2 –  The structure of our economy is such that services constitute 60% of it. The services are not high-earned services, it’s low productivity services

EXPLAINER – FALSE

Figure 3.1, page 54 of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020), published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in February 2017, ranks services as the highest contributor to the nation’s GDP. In the ranking, services (which include retail and wholesale) contribute 53.2% of Nigeria’s GDP in 2015 — trailed by agriculture which contributes 23.1%.

The report further states that 4 main sub-sectors make up services: telecommunications and information and communication technology (ICT); financial services; tourism; and creative industries. Out of these four, telecommunications and ICT alone was termed the second fastest growing sector in absolute terms, and in the 3rd quarter of 2016, it contributed 4.4% of the nation’s GDP!

Also, the financial service sector (including insurance) was reported to have grown by 11% a year up to a total of N2.1 trillion. Nigeria’s creative industries – film, music, broadcasting and publishing — was also said to be one of the fastest growing entertainment industry around the world.

In fact, the latest report of the NBS shows that in Q3 of 2018, services contributed 48.78% to the economy while agriculture and industry contributed 29.24 and 21.96 respectively.

Even though some subsectors of services could possibly be of low yield, it is false and also misleading to say that all services under this category are “low productivity” and not “high-earned services”.

CLAIM 3 – 65% children of the poor do not have access to early education

EXPLAINER – TRUE

According to UNICEF, of the children aged 36- 59 months (3-5 years), only 35.6% of them receive early childhood education. By implication, the remaining 64.4% of them have no access to education at an earlier age.

Akintunde Babatunde is a program officer with the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism. A dedicated researcher, channeling his skills towards the unveiling of political propaganda and demystifying the secrecy associated with government projects. A diligent and hardworking intellectual, he holds a bachelor’s degree in educational management and mathematics.

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