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Reno Omokri’s claims on Buhari’s N3.2bn food, travel budget false

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A twitter user, Reno Omokri (@renoomokri) claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari budgeted N3.2 billion for food and travel for 2020. He also claimed that President Buhari increased the fuel price three times in 2020. He further claimed that the President inherited an exchange rate of $1 to N199, the rate has risen to $1 to N500 now. 

False. The budgets for the president’s food and travel amounted to N2.65 billion and not N3.2 billion. It is also false that the president had increased the pump price of fuel three times as at December 9, 2020 when the claim was made. Checks showed that in 2020, fuel pump price was increased four times contrary to Omokri’s claim that it was increased three times. Moreso, President Buhari inherited an exchange rate of $1 to N197 and as at when the claim was made, $1 was exchanged for N380 officially. 

Full Text

Omokri, with about 876,000 followers, made a number of claims on President Buhari’s budgets for food and travels, fuel price hike and naira-dollar exchange rates.

He tweeted: “General #Buhari has a N3.2 billion food and travel budget for 2020. That is N8.7 million daily. He is living lavishly at our expense, but increased fuel price 3 times in 2020. He met dollars at $1 to N199. Now it is $1 to N500.”

A screenshot of the claims.

How true are these claims? 

Verification

The 2020 budget of the Presidency obtained from the Budget Office of the Federation showed that a total of N2.65 billion was budgeted for the President’s food and travel expenses. 

A look at the document showed that N2.53 billion was budgeted for his travel and transport, comprising N1.75 billion for international travel and transport and N775.60 million for local travel and transport. 

In terms of the president’s food, N98.31 million was budgeted for his food stuff/catering materials supplies while refreshment and meals amounted to N25.65 million.

In all, his food and travel budgets amounted to N2.65 billion, contrary to the claimed N3.2 billion.

Fuel price

Secondly, data sourced from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), showed that the pump price of fuel has been on a downward slide from January 2020 up to June 2020 when the agency fixed the price between N121.50 and N123.50 per litre from the N123.50 per litre it announced for May.

The first price increase was in July when PPPRA raised the pump price of fuel to between N140.80 and N143.80 per litre. 

The second price increase was in August, 2020 when PPPRA fixed the pump price between N148 and N150 per litre.

Then, the third price increase came in September, 2020 when PPPRA fixed the price between N158.18 and N162 per litre. 

Additionally, PPPRA announced the fourth increase in pump price of fuel in November, 2020 ranging between N168 to N170 per litre before announcing a N5 cut in the price in December, 2020. 

Therefore, in 2020, fuel pump price was increased four times, contrary to Omakri’s claim that it was increased three times. 

Exchange rate

Finally, on the exchange rate claim, the record of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that on May 28, 2015, $1 exchanged for N197. That was a day before President Buhari was sworn in to office on May 29, 2015. 

However, CBN’s record showed that as at December 9, 2020, the official exchange rate was N380 per dollar. 

Though parallel market exchange rates are historically higher than the official rate, official records do not support Omokri’s claims. 

Conclusion

The claims are false. The budgets for the president’s food and travel amounted to N2.65 billion and not N3.2 billion. It is also false that the president had increased the pump price of fuel three times as at December 9, 2020 when the claim was made. Checks showed that in 2020, fuel pump price was increased four times contrary to Omakri’s claim that it was increased three times. Moreso, President Buhari inherited an exchange rate of $1 to N197 and as when the claim was made, $1 was exchanged for N380 officially. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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