Nigeria election 2023: Fact-checking claims by the candidates

*Atiku, Tinubu, Obi

With Nigeria’s presidential elections looming, candidates seeking to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari have been making claims about key issues.

We have looked at statements by Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), as well as by opposition politicians Atiku Abubakar from the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi.

Peter Obi: ‘While the poverty rate in India is about 16%, that of Nigeria is about 63%… classified as multi-dimensionally poor’

Mr Obi has taken data from two different sources when making this claim.

The figure for India (16.4%) is taken from the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, released in 2022 with the backing of the UN and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

It assesses poverty in more than 100 developing countries, looking at 10 indicators covering health, education and living standards.

While the figure for India is correct, in this same report the figure given for Nigeria is 46.4% – not the 63% mentioned by Mr Obi.

That figure has come from a different study – a national survey known as the Nigeria Multidimensional Poverty Survey (also released last year).

Despite the similar name, it’s not equivalent to the global study, and it would be misleading to use information from the two studies side by side, according to Prof Sabina Alkire, head of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

It’s difficult to accurately estimate the number of Nigerians in poverty

A national index is a country-specific poverty measure and in most cases is tailored to each country’s own situation and for Nigeria, it has additional indicators not included in the global study, adds Prof Alkire.

And we also need to be aware that the data from the global study is from different years – the figure for Nigeria is from 2018 and that for India from 2019-21.

This raises further questions about whether it’s a valid comparison, since the Nigerian data pre-dates the Covid pandemic.

World Bank researchers point out that assessing poverty trends in Nigeria has long been difficult due to changing methods of measurement.

Mr Obi has also claimed Nigeria had “overtaken India as home to the biggest pool of absolute poor in the world”.

The World Poverty Clock, which tracks progress made by countries in ending extreme poverty, first showed Nigeria ahead of India in terms of people living in extreme poverty in 2018.

The latest estimates are that Nigeria has 71 million people in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 per day) compared with India’s 44 million.

Atiku Abubakar: ‘In just five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of fully employed people dropped by 54% – from 68 million to 31 million people’

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar with his hands raised during a campaign rally in Kano, northwest Nigeria

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar with his hands raised during a campaign rally in Kano, northwest Nigeria

Mr Atiku Abubakar of the opposition PDP, who was vice-president from 1999 to 2007, said this in January.

He is correct about the figure for those categorised as fully employed in 2020, according to official data.

But his figure for 2015 also includes those defined as underemployed – that is working fewer hours than they would like, or doing work not fully utilising their skills.

In 2015, there were 55 million people fully employed according to the government’s Unemployment/Underemployment Report, which would mean the correct figure for the fall in employment is 44%.

Bola Tinubu: ‘(Insecurity has) actually reduced… we (had) flags of foreign jihadists in Nigeria, that is no more’

Insecurity has been a major election issue, in particular the fight against Islamist militant groups such as Boko Haram.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Mr Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), sought to defend the record of the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is his party leader.

He claimed foreign jihadists had been operating in four states when Mr Buhari took over in 2015 and that this was no longer the case. “That is long gone,” he said.

Boko Haram has indeed been weakened and has been pushed out of much of the territory it previously controlled, but other groups have grown stronger during this period, among them the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap), which broke away from Boko Haram.

David Malet, from the American University in Washington DC, who has been researching foreign fighters since 2005, says it is difficult to say how many there are in Nigeria, but suggests it is still a problem.

“With Islamic State recruitment, there are certainly more today in neighbouring countries in the region, so it is likely there are more in Nigeria too,” he told the BBC.

The government is also experiencing other security-related challenges – among them banditry, kidnappings and conflicts involving pastoralists and farming communities, as well as a separatist insurgency in the south-east.

“Overall, Nigeria remained one of the most violent countries in Africa last year,” according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).



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