2023 election: Fact-checking Peter Obi’s claims at Chatham House

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THE presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi,  was on Monday, January 16, 2023 at the Chatham House in London, United Kingdom to discuss his plans for Nigeria ahead of the February 25 presidential election.

Obi becomes the second Nigerian presidential candidate who appeared at the Chatham House after Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria’s 2023 election.

READ : 2023 election: Fact-checking 12 claims made by Kwankwaso at Chatham House

He made several claims on his achievement as a former governor of Anambra state alongside his vision and plans for Nigerians if elected. In this fact-check, The FactCheckHub examines the veracity of some of his claims.

 

CLAIM 1

63 per cent of Nigeria’s population lives in poverty.

THE FINDINGS

According to a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on multi-dimensional poverty, about  133 million people in Nigeria, representing 63 per cent of the population, are living in different categories of poverty.

The report stated that 65 per cent of the poor (86 million people) live in Northern Nigeria, while 35 per cent (nearly 47 million) live in the South.

The National Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report is 0.257, indicating that poor people in Nigeria experience just over one-quarter of all possible deprivations.

The report stresses that poverty levels across states vary significantly, with the incidence of multi-dimensional poverty ranging from a low of 27 per cent in Ondo to a high of 91 per cent in Sokoto.

Accordingly, the incidence of monetary poverty is lower than the incidence of MPI across most states.

In Nigeria, 40.1 per cent of people had been deemed poor, according to the 2018/19 national monetary poverty line, but 63 per cent have now been regarded as multi-dimensionally poor according to the National MPI 2022.

THE VERDICT

Peter Obi’s claim that over 63% of  Nigeria’s population lives in poverty in Nigeria is TRUE; as confirmed by the recent NBS report.

 

CLAIM 2

Nigeria has 40% unemployment rate and 60% youth unemployment.

THE FINDINGS

Nigeria’s Labour Force Statistics of the fourth quarter of 2020 released in March 2021 remains the official report which details unemployment  index in the country. The report was restated by the National Bureau of Statistics in the National Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report. According to the report, the national unemployment rate stood at 33.3 per cent as at December 2020 while youth unemployment rate (15- 34 years) is the highest in the country with 21.72 million or 42.5 per cent of 29.94 million young Nigerians in the labour force unemployed.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that the national unemployment rates and youth employment rate is 40% and 60% is FALSE, according to the last official statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics.

 

CLAIM 3

Britain’s debt is 70 per cent of their GDP.

THE FINDINGS

According to a report by Trading Economics, the British government debt was equivalent to 97.4 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2020-21 fiscal year.

UK's debt-to-GDP ratio. Source: Office for National Statistics.
UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio. Source: Office for National Statistics.

But data by the UK government’s Office of National Statistics show that the national debt to GDP of the country stands at 105.6 per cent as of fourth quarter of 2021 while it stands at 101.9% as of first and second quarters of 2022.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that Britain owes about 70 per cent of their GDP is FALSE; findings show that the figure is higher.

 

CLAIM 4

The debt of America is almost about 100% of their GDP.

THE FINDINGS

A report by S&P Global Market Intelligence published in February 2021 stated that for the first time since the end of the Second World War, the U.S. national debt rose to 100% of GDP in 2020.

Also, data by Sound Dollar show that the US government debt was estimated to have reached 123.39 per cent of the country’s GDP by the fourth quarter of 2021.

US debt-to-GDP ratio. Source: World Economics Research.
US debt-to-GDP ratio. Source: World Economics Research.

By the end of third quarter of 2022, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis put the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio at 120.23 per cent.

In addition, the World Economics also reported that the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 113.8 per cent as of 2022 (although it did not indicate which quarter).

THE VERDICT

The claim by the Labour Party’s presidential candidate that the debt of United States of America is almost about 100% of their GDP is FALSE; multiple data revealed that the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is higher than 100 per cent.

 

CLAIM 5

China’s debt is over 60 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product.

THE FINDINGS

The Chinese government recorded a debt-to-GDP ratio of 71.50 per cent in 2021, Trading Economics reports, citing the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

China's debt-to-GDP ratio. Source: World Economics Research.
China’s debt-to-GDP ratio. Source: World Economics Research.

However, another report revealed that the latest China’s debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 62.4 per cent as of 2022, citing the World Economics Research, London.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that China’s debt-to-GDP ratio is over 60 per cent is TRUE as shown in the 2022 report by the World Economics.

 

CLAIM 6

Japan’s debt is over 230 per cent of their GDP

THE FINDINGS

Trading Economics reported that Japan recorded its government debt-to-GDP ratio of 262.50 per cent in 2021.

However, the latest data from the World Economics Research in London revealed that Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 240.7 per cent as of 2022.

THE VERDICT

Peter Obi’s claim that Japan owes over 230 per cent of its GDP is TRUE; multiple data have shown.

 

CLAIM 7

Niger state has 76.3 thousand km (square) of land.

THE FINDINGS

According to Britannica, Niger state, located in the North-Central part of Nigeria, has a vast land mass of 76,363 square kilometre. A 2019 report by Daily Trust also shows that Niger State is the largest state in Nigeria with 76, 363 square kilometres of land.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that Niger State has 76.3 thousand square kilometres of land is TRUE; multiple data show.

 

CLAIM 8

Nigeria has 20 million out-of-school children in the North.

THE FINDINGS

Nigeria now has 20 million out-of-school children (country-wide), according to the latest global data on out-of-school children by the United Nations Educational Organisation (UNESCO).

According to the statistics, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan have the highest figures for out-of-school children globally.

UNESCO, in partnership with the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, showed that sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with most children and youths out of school.

THE VERDICT

The claim that Nigeria has 20 million out-of-school children in the North is MISLEADING; the UNESCO report shows that the 20 million out-of-school children cut across all the states in the country.

READ ALSO : Fact-checking Nasir El-Rufai’s claims about Nigerian military size, others at Chatham House

CLAIM 9

Nigeria’s budget for the health sector is under N2.5 trillion from 2015 – 2021.

THE FINDINGS

Findings by The FactCheckHub revealed that the claim is MISLEADING.

Nigeria’s health sector under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration since 2015 has been receiving less than 7% of the government’s annual budget, contrary to the commitment made by African leaders under the 2001 Abuja declaration to allocate at least 15% of its annual spending to the sector.

Nigeria's health budgets - 2015-2022.
Nigeria’s health budgets – 2015-2021. CREDITS: Dataphyte.

A careful look at the amounts allocated to the nation’s health sector from 2015 – 2021 show that the total health budget is exactly N2.51 trillion.

THE VERDICT

Peter Obi’s claim that the Nigerian Government’s annual budget for the health sector from 2015 – 2021 is under N2.5 trillion is Misleading; data from the country’s budget office show that it is the exact N2.5 trillion and not under.

 

CLAIM 10

Nigeria’s budget for health is about N1.5 trillion in 2023.

THE FINDINGS

An analysis of the 2023 budget shows that N1.08 trillion was allocated to the health sector for the 2023 fiscal year.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that the Nigerian government’s budget for the health sector is N1.5 trillion is FALSE; as the amount is lower.

 

CLAIM 11

Nigeria’s budget for education in 2023 is N2 trillion.

THE FINDINGS

Nigeria’s 2023 budget for education stands at N1.08 trillion, according to a breakdown by the Budget Office of the Federation. This is lower than the N2 trillion quoted by Peter Obi.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that Nigeria’s budget for education in 2023 is N2 trillion is FALSE; as the amount is lower than what he mentioned.

 

CLAIM 12

Nigeria’s budget for subsidy in 2023 is about N3.6 trillion.

THE FINDINGS

The Vanguard newspaper reported that President Muhammadu Buhari has allocated N3.6 trillion to fund the fuel subsidy for the first half of the year 2023.

THE VERDICT

Obi’s claim that Nigeria’s budget for fuel subsidy in 2023 is about N3.6 trillion is TRUE; media report has shown.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.

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Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected] | + posts

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].

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