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Fact-checking Buhari’s farewell speech as Nigeria’s president

On May 28, Muhammadu Buhari, the immediate-past president of Nigeria, highlighted a couple of achievements of his administration. 

Before his election in 2015, Mr Buhari promised to resolve the challenges ravaging the country at the time: poverty, corruption, low employment opportunities, erratic electricity supply, and insecurity. 

Seemingly convinced by his promises, Nigerians elected him president, and he went on to serve a two-term tenure of eight years. 

However, at the end of his first tenure in 2019, many of these promises were yet to be fulfilled, as seen here, but he was still able to secure another four years in office. 

On May 29, he completed his tenure in office and handed over power to Bola Tinubu, the incumbent president. Prior to the handing-over ceremony, Mr Buhari, in his farewell speech, claimed his administration had put an end to terrorism and banditry. He also claimed his government increased the ability of poor Nigerians to earn a living and provided more food for millions of Nigerians in the villages. 

His speech, in part, reads, “…The Nigerian economy has become more resilient due to the various strategies put in place to ensure that our economy remains afloat during global economic downturns.

“Furthermore, we increased the ability of the poor and rural Nigerians to earn a living, provided more food for millions in our villages and gave our women opportunities to earn a living. 

“Our battle to ensure that all Nigerians live in a safe and secure environment has achieved considerable results. As I complete my term in office, we have been able to reduce the incidences of banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other criminal activities considerably.”

DUBAWA fact-checked some of the claims to ascertain their veracity.

Claim 1: We increased the ability of poor and rural Nigerians to earn a living.

Verification

Available records show that during Mr Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s poverty rate witnessed a steady increase compared to the period before his administration. 

Considering the metrics used to ascertain the country’s poverty level, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that 133 million people representing 63% of the entire population, are multidimensionally poor. 

To give a clear explanation, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative explained that Multidimensional poverty encompasses the various deprivations experienced by poor people in their daily lives – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, disempowerment, poor quality of work, the threat of violence, and living in environmentally hazardous areas.

According to the NBS report, Nigeria’s MPI is 0.257, indicating that poor people in Nigeria experience just over one-quarter of all possible deprivations.

Meanwhile, the report measured multidimensional poverty as higher in rural areas, where 72% of people are poor, compared to 42% of people in urban areas. Also, the 2018/2019 national monetary poverty line showed that 40.1% are poor, which is relatively lower than the measure of multidimensional poverty.
Further data from the World Poverty Clock noted that about 71.2 million Nigerians out of the estimated population of 220.4 million were living in extreme poverty, with 53% in rural areas and 9% in urban areas. 

Also, “earning a means of living” could mean engaging in gainful employment. While the former president claimed his administration increased the means of living for those in rural areas, data from the NBS showed that the country’s unemployment rate had increased significantly to 33% – the highest in over 13 years

Recall that in 2015, a report by the National Bureau of Statistics said eight million Nigerians were unemployed (10.44 per cent of the labour force) – this was before the coming of the Mr Buhari administration. 

Fact-checking Buhari's farewell speech as Nigeria’s president

Verdict: False. Available records showed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate worsened under Mr Buhari’s administration.

Claim 2: We provided more food for millions in our villages – Buhari.

Verification

Mr Buhari also claimed that his administration provided more food for “millions” of Nigerians in the rural areas. 

In 2022, Nigeria ranked 103 out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index, released years into the Mr Buhari administration. “With a score of 27.3, Nigeria has a level of serious hunger,” the report added.

Further analysis showed that the hunger index in Nigeria has been reducing over the years. In 2014, the hunger index for Nigeria was at a score of 28.4, compared to 32.1 in 2007 and 40.4 in 2000.

This foregoing showed no significant drop in the country’s hunger level under Mr Buhari – despite the said food provided for millions in the villages. 

In December 2022, for instance, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that 25 million persons in the country are at high risk of food insecurity during the lean season (June to August 2023).

The report noted that an estimated 17 million people are at risk of food insecurity, attributing the current level of food insecurity to conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices. 

“Food access has been affected by persistent violence in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue and Niger,” the report added.

The Food Security Information Network, in its 2023 Global Report on Food Prices, also submitted that conflict/insecurity in the Lake Chad region contributed largely to the acute food insecurity in Nigeria and five other West African countries.

Fact-checking Buhari's farewell speech as Nigeria’s president

Verdict: There is insufficient evidence to prove that millions of Nigerians in villages have been provided with food.

Claim 3: We have been able to reduce the incidences of banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other criminal activities.

Verification

The former president further said his administration reduced incidences of banditry, terrorism and armed robbery in the country. He further claimed that he left Nigeria better than it was in 2015.

The Global Terrorism Index has shown that the country has witnessed a decline in the number of deaths resulting from terrorism. The report, released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, noted that in 2023, Nigeria moved down by two spots from 6th in 2022 to 8th in 2023. This is even as deaths fell by almost a quarter, from 497 in 2021 to 385 in 2022.

Also, Nigeria got an overall 7.15 criminality score on the 2021 Global Organized Crime Index. Criminal markets highlighted include human trafficking, human smuggling, arms trafficking, flora crimes, and synthetic drug trade. Criminal actors included: mafia-style groups, criminal networks, and state-embedded networks. 

Fact-checking Buhari's farewell speech as Nigeria’s president

Verdict: Mostly true. 

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