On Friday the 14th of December 2018, five vice 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.
The participants at this debate were selected earlier this week by the presidential election debates group and a group of broadcast stations affiliated to the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
The participants at the debate were Peter Obi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Yemi Osinbajo of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ganiyu Galadima of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Khadijah Abdullahi of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Umma Abdullahi-Getso of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
As expected, most of the candidates made a number of claims which may or may not be true, false or just plain exaggeration. Here’s a simplified way to ascertain what is true and what is not out of the barrage of information sent out yesterday.
VERIFYING VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 1 – MR PETER OBI
Mr Peter Obi started by reeling out statistics to attack the Buhari administration. He mentioned worsening inequality, misery index, terrorism index, poverty index, unemployment, health, education and all other key indexes he said have shown that Nigeria is getting worse. Let’s take a look at his first claim:
“Nigeria has 10 cars per 1,000 people. There are about two million vehicles in Nigeria.”
FACT – According to road transport data by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for Q1 2018, estimated vehicle population in Nigeria as at Q1 2018 was put at 11,653,871. That means that vehicle ownership in Nigeria is way above the 2 million figure claimed by Mr Obi. Also, with the total population of Nigeria set at 198,000,000 in 2018, this means that (approximately) 1 out of 17 people have cars. Again, WRONG!!
Second claim: “Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world today. Our inequality has worsened, our misery index has worsened.”
FACT – According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in the world.
The report indicated that most of these children are in Nigeria’s northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where insecurities caused by Boko Haram have disrupted academic activities. With UNICEF’s evidence, we can say that Peter Obi’s claim is TRUE.
Third claim: “SMEs are contributing to more than 60 per cent employment in China.” He says China’s policies have guaranteed the country over seven million jobs annually, while Nigeria continues to lose over four million jobs per year.
FACT – According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics as quoted by statista, China’s economic system is largely based on growth and export with the manufacturing sector being a crucial contributor to the country’s export competitiveness. The distribution of the workforce across economic sectors in China from 2007 to 2017 showed that in 2017, 27 per cent of the workforce were employed in agriculture, 28.1 per cent in industry and 44.9 per cent in services.
According to the China Statistical Yearbook, in 2015 SMEs made up about 97.9% of all registered companies in China. Their total assets have been around 53.4% of China’s total number, their revenue was 62% of the total and the profits been 64.3% of the total with a number of 4.26 Billion Yuan. They also contributed nearly 58 per cent of the GDP and 68 per cent of exports.
SMEs are also playing an increasingly significant role in the employment situation in China. The number of employees in SMEs makes about 82% of total employees in China. They are also responsible for nearly 75% of the new jobs every year.
With data from China’s National Bureau of statistics, we can say that Peter Obi’s claim that MSME contributes more than 60 per cent employment in China is TRUE.
Fourth claim: “Nigeria unemployment and underemployment was 24% in 2014, In 2017 it is now 40%. Within the same period that China produced 7m jobs, Nigeria lost 4m jobs.”
FACT – According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Force Statistics Q1-Q3 2017, Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate in Q1 2015 was 29%, In Q4 2016, the unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 35%. The last unemployment rate uploaded by the country’s official data repository, NBS was in the third quarter of 2017 and the unemployment rate as at then was 40%. So, The claim by Peter Obi about Nigeria’s current unemployment rate is TRUE.
Fifth claim: “Nigeria has fallen on the global competitive index from 124 to 127.”
FACT – According to the latest (2018) World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018, Nigeria rose on the index by 10 places. Nigeria is currently 115 (47.5%) out of 140 countries with chad being the 140th country (35.5%) and the United States of America being rated first with 85.6% rating.
Obi wasn’t specific on his claim, he didn’t talk about the year so, for this and according to available document, the claim by Peter Obi on Nigeria falling on the global competitive index is FALSE.
Sixth claim: “Oil is responsible for 80% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.”
FACT – As of 2017, NBS figures showed that Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings from oil the oil sector stood above 90%. Also, according to Global Edge, the oil sector provides 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and 80% of its budgetary revenues.
So, the claim by Obi that oil is responsible for 80% of Nigeria’s Forex is NOT ENTIRELY TRUE.
Seventh claim: “In 2014, Nigeria generated $21bn in Foreign Direct Investment, in 2017, it fell to $12bn in 2017.”
FACT – According to NBS capital importation reports, the first quarter in 2018 saw a continuous growth in total Capital Importation into Nigeria, the fourth consecutive quarterly increase since Q2 2017. The total value of capital imported in the quarter stood at $6.3 Billion, which is a year on year increase of 594.03% and a 17.11% growth over the figure reported in the previous quarter. This increase in capital inflow in Q1, 2018 was driven mainly by Portfolio Investment, which grew from $3,477.53 million in the previous quarter to $4,565.09 million, accounting for 72.42% of the total Capital Importation during the quarter. As at the end of 2017, total capital imported into Nigeria was $12.2 billion, an increase of $7.1billion or 138.7 per cent from the figure recorded in 2016.
So, according to this statistics, Mr Obi’s claim is FALSE.
VERIFYING VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 2 – YEMI OSINBAJO
The APC’s vice presidential candidate, Yemi Osinbajo who is also the serving vice president, went straight to the achievements of his party and listed the achievements of the current government from railways to payments to poor Nigerians.
In his debate, he made the following claims:
First claim: “With less revenue, we have spent N2.7 trillion on capital projects in two budget cycles, the highest in the history of Nigeria.”
FACT – Since Prof Osinbajo was referring to the expenditure of this current administration, we verified this claim by assessing the budget allocation and expenditure between 2016 and 2017.
According to the Budget Office of the Federation, the 2016 budget, as approved by President Buhari has an aggregate expenditure of N6,060,677,358,227 (N6 trillion) out of which N1, 587,598,122,031 (N1 trillion) was projected as capital expenditure but the total release for capital projects in 2016, according to the Accountant General, was N1,219,471,747,443 (N1.2 trillion) which translates to only 20% of the total budget size was spent on Capital Projects. Here’s a more visual look at this:
In 2017, according to official documents from the office of the accountant general, out of the N2.36 budgeted for capital expenditure in the 2017 budget, a total of N1.6 trillion was released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies for financing capital projects in the 2017 federal budget.
Going by available data on capital releases for 2016 and 2017, a total of N2.8 trillion has been spent on capital projects by the current government, so the claim that Buhari’s government have spent N2.7 trillion on capital projects, the highest in the history of Nigeria on capital investment is TRUE.
Second claim: “The VP says the government has made giant strides in agriculture, especially in the production of rice, Nigeria is now producing 90% of rice consumption.”
FACT – There is no documented evidence to back up the vice president’s claim that Nigeria produces 90% of its rice consumption.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria consumes more rice than any African country and is one of the biggest producers and importers of the grain on the continent.
In 2015, the Nigerian government through the Central Bank of Nigeria imposed import restrictions on rice and introduced a borrowing programme to stimulate local rice production while reducing the country’s food import bills, available data from Index Mundi and the United States Department of Agriculture states that rice imports increased from 2.1 million tonnes in 2015 to an estimated 2.5 million tonnes of rice in 2016, 2.6 million tonnes in 2017 and 3.0 million tonnes in 2018.
Also, according to the International Grain Council, rice imports in 2016 was estimated to be 2.1 million tonnes and 2.7million tonnes in 2017. It is estimated that Nigeria’s rice import will be 2.8 million tonnes in 2018.
Therefore, the vice president’s claim that Nigeria’s rice import has reduced and that Nigeria produces 90% of domestic rice consumption remains UNPROVEN.
Third claim: “The micro-credit scheme under the larger social investments programmes of the Buhari administration has gone a long way to address poverty. Over 400,000 people have been lifted out of poverty.”
FACT: According to a freedom of Information reply to PTCJ by the National Social Investment Office, the actual number of beneficiaries of the National Cash transfer programme is well known to the Community Trained Facilitators of the scheme who are said to be visiting the conditional cash transfer beneficiaries every week to support them with financial skills, savings group , basic enumeration etc. Based on this reply, we can ascertain that there is no public data to support this claim and as such, the claim by the Vice president that Over 400,000 people have been lifted out of poverty on the social investment scheme remain UNPROVEN.
Fourth claim: “Social Investment Programme has N500 Billion going into it every year, we have employed 500 N-power graduates, we are feeding 9.2 Million pupils daily.”
FACT: According to a freedom of Information reply to PTCJ by the National Social Investment Office, the entire amount appropriated to the NSIP has been N500 billion annually (commencing 2016) for 3 years (making a total of 1.5 trillion) but total releases so far (as at October 2018) amounted to about N307 Billion, representing 23.63% of the appropriated sum.
So, the claim that N500 Billion goes into the Social Investment Programme every year is not TRUE as the appropriation is different from actual releases. However, we have verified the claim that the government has engaged 200,000 youths under its NPOWER programme. Information available on the website of the scheme states that only 200,000 Nigerians have been enrolled so far in the scheme and news report has it that another 300,000 youths have been engaged so far on the programme.
So while the N500 Billion investment in NSIP annually is NOT TRUE, the vice president’s claim on NPower engaging 500,000 youths is TRUE.
Fifth claim: “Bag of fertiliser now sells for N6,000 to N7,000 in Nigeria.”
FACT: Price of fertiliser has experienced a drastic drop following the Nigeria-Morocco fertiliser deal. As at 2016, a bag of fertiliser sold for more than N10,000 but according to Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), the average fertilizer prices across the states increased by 0.20% for NPK, decreased by 0.88% for Urea and 2.59% for SSP compared to average fertilizer prices of September, 2018. In the open market NPK sold between N6, 150 – N9, 000, Urea N6, 200 –N8, 250, SSP N6,200 – N6,500.
So the claim by VP Osinbajo that price of fertilizer hs reduced to N6000 -N7,000 in Nigeria is TRUE.
Sixth claim: “On World Bank Ease of Doing Business report. Nigeria went down by 64 places under PDP, but has risen by 24 places under APC.”
FACT: according to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business report, Nigeria went down from 120 to 170 between 2008 and 2015, in 2017, Nigeria moved 24 places from its 2016 spot of 169 to 145. According to World Bank Ease of Doing Business report released in October 2018, out of a total of 190 countries ranked by the World Bank, Nigeria was ranked 146th in 2018, dropping by a spot from its 145th position in 2017.
So, the statement by VP Osinbajo that Nigeria has risen by 24 places under APC is TRUE.
(We are still doing research on these claims, this report will be updated as new information arises)
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.