Back to Africa Check

No, presidential candidate Obi didn’t say he pulled 439 million Nigerians out of poverty

In a barely audible 13-second video circulating on Facebook, Peter Obi appears to say he has pulled 439 million Nigerians out of poverty. Obi is the Labour Party candidate in Nigeria’s February 2023 presidential election.

We’ve found about a dozen Facebook posts of the video, which shows Obi addressing a gathering. All the captions accuse Obi of lying, or of quoting inaccurate statistics. Some are presented as fact-checks.

Nigeria’s entire population is estimated at about 200 million people. 

One version claims Obi said he pulled 439 million people out of poverty in the southeastern state of Anambra – where he was governor from 2007 to 2014 – alone. Nigeria has 36 states.

“This is one of d lies and fake figures he used to gather his Obingos and Obidiots,” the post reads. “Obingos” and “Obidiots” are insults for Obi’s supporters, who call themselves “Obidients”.

Other versions of the claim can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Obi’s critics, including All Progressives Congress presidential candidate Bola Tinubu, have previously accused him of dishing out inaccurate statistics

Elections for the presidency and other top positions in Nigeria’s federal and state governments are set to kick off on 25 February.

But did Obi claim he lifted 439 million Nigerians out of poverty, and does the video show him making the claim?


Original video cut mid-sentence

The 13-second video was cut out of video of Obi’s speech during a more than one-hour interactive session with northern Nigerian leaders. It was organised by the Arewa Joint Committee in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, in October 2022.

The video was cut to begin mid-sentence: “... and was able to pull 439 million people out of poverty. It was MDGs that India mainstreamed into their development agenda and pulled 269 million people out of poverty.” 

A video of the full event shows that Obi was talking about how the Asian countries of China, India and Vietnam had lifted millions from poverty through Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) programmes.

China and India are – by far – the world’s most populous countries

In 2021, China had an estimated population of 1.412 billion people, while India’s population was estimated at 1.408 billion. Vietnam had about 97.5 million people.

This is the sentence that was cut halfway in the 13-second video: “It was MDG that China mainstreamed into their development agenda and was able to pull 439 million people out of poverty.” The audio is of poor quality, so the “and” could be misheard as “I”.

Obi not did not say he pulled 439 million people out of poverty. He said China did.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.