Fact-checking claims in Buhari’s presidential farewell speech to Nigerians

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THE immediate-past president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 28 delivered his farewell speech in a televised broadcast to Nigerians prior to his handing over to the newly sworn-in president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, May 29, 2023.

During his farewell speech, Buhari spoke about various achievements in revitalizing the economy and enhancing the social welfare of Nigerians, particularly those in rural areas who face economic challenges. Additionally, he claimed that he is leaving Nigeria in a better state than when he first assumed office in 2015 as the nation’s democratically-elected president.

In this fact-check, The FactCheckHub identifies and analyses some claims in Buhari’s valedictory speech.

 

CLAIM 1

Buhari claimed that he increased the ability of poor Nigerians to earn a living.

THE FINDINGS

Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is FALSE.

Checks show that more Nigerians became poor under the Buhari administration.

Despite spending over N2 trillion on National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) to alleviate poverty, the latest data shows that 133 million people were said to be living in multidimensional poverty under the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

The “multi-dimensional” poverty report by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 133 million people in the country, representing 63 per cent of the population, are living in different categories of poverty. This is higher than the 40.1% recorded in 2018/19 national monetary poverty line.

The report stated that 65 per cent of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, 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 multi-dimensional poverty ranging from a low of 27 per cent in Ondo to a high of 91 per cent in Sokoto.

According to the report, more than half of Nigeria’s population is experiencing multidimensional poverty and relies on dung, wood, or charcoal for cooking, instead of cleaner energy sources.

Furthermore, the report reveals significant deprivations at a national level in areas such as sanitation, healthcare, food security, and housing. As a result, the prevalence of the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) is higher compared to the monetary poverty index (MPI) in most states.

THE VERDICT 

The claim that the ability of the poor to earn a living increased under the Buhari administration is FALSE; data shows that more Nigerians became poor under his administration.

 

CLAIM 2

Buhari claimed that he signed the Petroleum Industry Act and completed the Second Niger Bridge.

THE FINDINGS

Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is TRUE.

In August 2021, Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2021 into law, TheCable reported.

The passage of the PIB came after successive administrations had failed to do so since the need for the bill was first mooted during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

Similarly, Channels reported that the ex-president commissioned the Second Niger Bridge in the South-East, six days before the end of his administration.

The president also commissioned Loko-Oweto Bridge across River Benue to link Benue to Nasarawa State and the Ikom Bridge in Cross River State. The road project is the completed section of the over 200 kilometres of Kano-Kaduna Dual Carriage Expressway and three new Federal Secretariats.

THE VERDICT

The claim that Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Act and completed the second Niger Bridge and other important roads linking cities and states in the country is TRUE; media reports indicated.

CLAIM 3

Buhari said incidence of banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other criminal activities reduced considerably under his administration.

THE FINDINGS 

Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is MOSTLY FALSE.

Nigeria has seen an increase in cases of insecurity since 2015, according to the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that presents data on violent incidents in Nigeria from 2015-2022.

The data shows that Nigeria recorded no fewer than 11,449 violent attacks between 2015 and 2022.

 

Based on the data analyzed by The FactCheckHub, there has been a consistent rise in violent attacks which include banditry, attacks on defenceless Nigerians and mass abductions during Buhari’s presidency since 2015.

The data indicates that the recorded cases of violent attacks were 882 in 2015; 825 in 2016; 947 in 2017; 1,172 in 2018; 1,549 in 2019; 1,867 in 2020; 2,285 in 2021; and 1,922 in 2022.

Though the Buhari government recorded progress in the Global Terrorism Index moving Nigeria from the 4th position it was in 2017 among the most impacted by terrorism to the 6th position in 2021 and 8th in 2022. This is largely due to progress recorded in the fight against terrorists in the Northeast and the reduction in terrorism-related deaths but data shows that the problem has spread to other parts of the country unlike before.

Data showing Nigeria’s progress in 2023 GTI

From May 29, 2015, to May 29, 2022, a total of 55,430 individuals lost their lives to terrorist organizations and criminal gangs operating across the country. Similarly, there was no respite as regards kidnapping incidents as no fewer than 2021 Nigerians were kidnapped between 2015 and 2022.

Kidnapped victims in Nigeria between 2015-2022.

In the same vein, Nigeria faced the highest cases of displacement crisis ever in its history during Buhari’s tenure as the nation’s elected president.

According to data from Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, millions of Nigerians fled their homes majorly because of insecurity under the Buhari administration. In 2022 alone, at least 3.6 million Nigerians were forced out of their homes.

THE VERDICT 

The claim by Buhari that cases of violent attacks reduced considerably during his administration is MOSTLY FALSE; findings show that the security situation of the country worsened between 2015 and 2023.

CLAIM 4

Buhari claimed that his administration recovered huge sum of money back to the nation’s Federation account.

THE FINDINGS

Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is TRUE.

For instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it recovered over $121 million as part of the assets forfeited to the Nigerian government in 2022, TheCable reported.

Premium Times also reported that the commission said it recovered 152 billion naira and $386 million (dollars) between January and December 2021.

Findings also show that a huge sum of funds allegedly looted by the former head of state, Sani Abacha was also recovered under the Buhari administration. 

THE VERDICT 

The claim that Buhari recovered the huge sum of looted funds during his administration is TRUE; public records show.

CLAIM 5

Buhari claimed that he left Nigeria better than he met it in 2015.

THE FINDINGS 

Findings by The FactCHeckHub show that the claim is MOSTLY FALSE.

This is not the first time that the former president would be making the claim. He had earlier made the same claim in his response to Bloomberg’s questions published on June 21, 2022, saying his administration would be leaving Nigeria “in a far better place” than he found it.

Assessments conducted by fact-checkers and credible media platforms reveal a dismal performance by ex-President Muhammadu Buhari in key areas such as the economy, security, and the fight against corruption, which he emphasized before assuming office.

In terms of the economy, an analysis of Nigeria’s consumer price index by The ICIR shows that the inflation rate rose 59 times under Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year administration.

When he assumed office in May 2015, the inflation rate stood at 9 per cent. However, by the time he handed over power on May 29, 2023, it had risen to a significant 22.22 per cent — more than double of what he met when he assumed office in 2015.

In 2022, The ICIR also reported that Nigerians have been struggling to feed as a result of an over 100 per cent hike in the prices of key staple food prices since 2015 when President Buhari assumed office. 

The exchange rate has also experienced a significant increase over the past eight years. At the start of Buhari’s tenure in 2015, the Naira-to-Dollar value was fixed at N192.64. However, it rose to N461, marking a 139% increase under the democratic administration of President Buhari.

Dollar to Naira exchange/ Credit : BudgiT

In terms of debt, President Buhari inherited a total public debt of less than 13 trillion naira. However, by the time he left office on May 29, 2023, the nation’s debt burden had escalated to N46.25 trillion, nearly quadrupling the amount from 2015.

Regarding poverty, there has been an alarming rise during the Buhari administration. The percentage of Nigerians living in poverty increased from 40.1% to 63% of the entire population.

In the area of security, the situation deteriorated under Buhari’s leadership, with a recorded total of 11,449 violent attacks resulting in the loss of lives and properties between 2015 and 2022.

Under Buhari’s governance, Nigeria’s corruption perception index ranking worsened significantly, dropping from 136th in 2015 to 150th among 180 countries in the world.

However, Nigeria witnessed an increase in infrastructure provision under the Buhari administration, The Punch reported.

Also, Premium Times listed some major infrastructure projects commissioned during Buhari’s tenure especially rail and road projects.

THE VERDICT 

The claim that Buhari met Nigeria better than he met it in 2015 is MOSTLY FALSE; an assessments of his administration’s performance show that while he did well in areas of provision of public infrastructures, data revealed that he performed below what he met in 2015 in areas such as security, poverty, inflation and corruption ratings etc.

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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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