How Correct Are Donald Duke’s Figures on Nigeria’s Population and Economic Growth?

CLAIM 1: Donald Duke, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said Nigeria’s population growth rate is “3.2% or thereabout.”

EVIDENCE: According to the 2017 Demographic Statistics Bulletin published in May 2018 by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s population growth rate is 3.12%


CLAIM 2: Donald Duke, SDP presidential candidate, put Nigeria’s economic growth rate at 1.2%



The question of how healthy Nigeria’s economy has been under the current Buhari-led administration has been an unending one. Almost every presidential hopeful in the just-held 2019 elections has continuously harped on this question – each suggesting a way forward while also picking the holes in the economic prosperity of the country.

Donald Duke, the flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), recently waded in on the subject in question. He said in an interview with Channels TV, after the Court of Appeal declared him the candidate of the SDP in coming national elections, that Nigeria’s economy is not growing at the same rate as the population growth rate.

The government says for instance that we are out of recession because the economy is growing at 1.2 or 1.3 per cent. That’s hogwash,” the former Cross River state governor reportedly said.

Your population is growing at 3.2% or thereabouts and your economy is growing at 1.2 per cent, you are still in recession. For you to get out of recession, your economy must be growing faster than your population is. That is why this is not a popularity contest. This is not a game. This is serious business.”

Is Nigeria’s Population Growing By 3.2%?

The population growth rate for a year ‘T’ (in this case 2016), as defined by Trading Economics, is the exponential rate of growth of mid-year population from year ‘T-1’ (in this case 2015) to ‘T’, expressed as a percentage.

Quoting the National Population Commission (NPopC), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its 2017 Demographic Statistics Bulletin published in May 2018, put Nigeria’s 2016 population estimate at a little over 193 million (193,392,517). This is an increase from the 2015 estimate of 187 million (187,301,926). This approximate increase of 6 million in the span of a year represents a 3.12% estimated population growth rate.

Scaling up Donald Duke’s “3.2% or thereabout” mark with the above 3.12%, his figure could be said to be true.

Is Nigeria’s Economy Growing By 1.2%?

In a World Bank Group Flagship Report titled “Global Economic Prospects”, and published in June 2018, Nigeria’s GDP growth in 2015 was 2.7%. This took a sharp plunge in 2016, reaching a low -1.6%. By 2017, the country’s estimate had moved up, reaching 0.8%. The estimate for 2018 was 2.1%.

A World Bank global report published in 2018 estimated Nigeria’s GDP growth rate at 2.1%.

DUBAWA spoke to Samuel Atiku, who is the Head of research at BUDgIT. Quoting NBS, he said that the GDP growth rate for the third quarter in 2018 was 1.8%.

Every of these official figures in the recent past contradicts Duke’s 1.2%.


Although Mr Duke got right Nigeria’s population growth rate at “3.2% or thereabout” (the exact figure is 3.12% according to the NBS); his 1.2% economic growth rate figure is incorrect. According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP growth as of 2018 is 2.1%; while the NBS put it at 1.8%.

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