A close look at claims Buhari made in Democracy Day speech

On June 12, 2021, Nigeria celebrated its democracy day amid protests across states demanding better governance. The president addressed Nigerians in a 23-minute video.

Several claims emanating from the president’s speech have been called into question by Nigerians. In the light of this, we took a look at some of them.

Claim one: 10.5 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the last two years.

“In the last two years, we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women and the like.”

Excerpt of Buhari’s comment on poverty.

Looking at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2019 poverty data (from September 2018 to October 2019) released in 2020, Dubawa observeed that  40.1 per cent of the total population were classified as poor meaning on average, 4 out of 10 individuals in Nigeria have real per capita expenditures below 137,430 Naira per year. This translates to over 82.9 million poor Nigerians. NBS however noted this data excludes Borno State

Screenshot of NBS poverty data for 2019.

Although data could not be found for 2017/2018 to compare the difference (the last NBS data before 2018/2019 was 2009/2010) the increasing number of poor persons in the country between 2018 and 2019 contradicts the president claim, making it false.

Claim two: GDP growth was recorded in the second quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

“Though marginal we have recorded GDP growth over two quarters; Q2 2020 and Q1 2021. This is evidence of successful execution of the ESP by the Federal Government.”

Excerpt of the president’s comment on GDP.

A look at the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 2020 and 2021, Dubawa noted that the second and third quarter of 2020 experienced a negative downturn of -6.10% and – 3.62 respectively while the first and fourth quarter experienced positive growth in 2020 with 1.87% and 0.11% respectively.

Screenshot of NBS GDP quarterly data for 2020.

For the first quarter of 2021, GDP growth was positive at 0.51%.

Screenshot of NBS GDP data for the first quarter of 2021.

A look at these quarterly reports shows the president’s claim is not completely true. While it is false there was growth in the second quarter of 2020, it is true the first quarter of 2021 grew by 0.51%.

Claim three: Nigeria has a National Social Register of poor and vulnerable households 

“We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT”

Excerpt of Buhari’s comment on the social register.

Dubawa found that this claim is true although the data available does not give details of local governments and communities, there currently exists a National Social register on the National Social Safety-Net Coordinating Office’s (NASSCO) site.

NASSCO was established in 2016 by the Government of Nigeria in partnership with the World Bank to lay a strong foundation of rigorous and reliable evidence of poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria, by building a National Social Register (NSR), as well as coordinate, refine and integrate the social safety-net programs into social protection systems while ensuring policy coherence.

The National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable Households (PVHHs) found is distributed by states, households and individuals as of April 27, 2020. This register is a repository of information about potential beneficiaries for multiple social assistance programs.

Screenshot of NSR on NASSCO’s website.

According to NASSCO, this register was built using four targeting approaches. These approaches are; Geographic, Community Ranking, Community Based Targeting (CBT), and Proxy Mean Testing (PMT).


The above claims by the president are a combination of true False and misleading. While some claims turned out to be true, others mixed up data and some were completely false.

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