- Nigerians are set to vote for a new president on 25 February 2023 as the final term of current president Muhammadu Buhari comes to a close.
- Three of the leading presidential hopefuls appeared on the third of a series of presidential town hall meetings, this time hosted by popular channel Arise TV.
- Africa Check and our partners in the Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition fact-checked the candidates’ claims in real time. Here we contextualise that work and look at more claims.
Arise TV, one of Nigeria's most popular national channels, hosted the third of a series of presidential town halls in early December 2022, ahead of February 2023 elections.
Three of the four perceived frontrunners – Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) – took part.
The town hall focused on, among other areas, health, education and poverty.
The Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition, of which Africa Check is a member, fact-checked the town hall live.
In this report, we provide more context for our findings and look into 10 other claims that were made on the night.
In the interest of brevity, we have left out some of the straightforward and correct claims made by the candidates. (Read our fact-check of a previous town hall here.)
Candidate: Atiku Abubakar,
Peoples Democratic Party
Atiku Abubakar made few checkable claims, most being correct.
He criticised Nigeria’s outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari and the APC for mismanaging the country, leading to high poverty.
“I think Nigerians should be fair to [the] PDP. Because when we were in power, the poverty rate was not as high as this,” he said.
Abubakar was vice president from 1999 to 2007 under the PDP. He left the party in 2015 to help form the APC, which toppled the PDP that year. He returned to the PDP as its presidential candidate in 2019, and is again its standard bearer for the 2023 election.
But is he accurate with his claim about poverty? We went back in time.
Changes in how poverty rate measured
Using data from the bureau, a World Bank country economic report gave the rate in 2014 as a lower 33.1%. And in 2019 the statistics agency published a poverty rate of 40.1%. In November 2022, it reported that 63% of people living in Nigeria, or 133 million people, were deprived of many needs, or multidimensionally poor.
But it is important to know that over the years, the bureau has changed how it measures the poverty rate. The 2022 report was the agency’s first published multidimensional poverty rate.
Previous national poverty rates up to the one published for 2019 considered only the living standard, Leo Sanni, a statistical information officer at the agency, told Africa Check.
“We used to simply measure the living standard, which is the amount of money an individual or household lives on. This multidimensional poverty index is different. We measured four areas: education, health, labour and living standards,” he said.
If you compare the previous poverty rate with the 2022 poverty index, you must also consider the difference in the parameters, Sanni said.
“The 2019 and 2022 surveys didn’t measure poverty using the same parameters. However, if we measure only living standards the poverty rate would have still gone up because of the high inflation, and the impact of Covid-19, which led to many Nigerians losing their jobs.
“Definitely, poverty has increased. But if we had measured poverty rate using only living standards, the figure could have been different,” he said.
Abubakar’s claim is misleading in that it does not compare apples with apples.
Candidate: Peter Obi, Labour Party
Obi claimed that Nigeria had more people living in poverty than India, which he said had seven times more people.
The national statistics office published Nigeria’s most recent – and first – multidimensional poverty index in November 2022.
This showed 63% of Nigeria’s population, or 133 million people, were poor.
The index goes beyond measuring poverty based on how much a person lives on daily, Leo Sanni, a statistics bureau information officer, told Africa Check.
“For this 2022 multidimensional poverty index we went beyond measuring living on US$1.90 a day or any poverty line,” he said.
The index report noted that “the incidence of monetary poverty is lower than the incidence of multidimensional poverty across most states. In Nigeria, 40% of people are poor according to the 2018/19 national monetary poverty line, and 63% are multidimensionally poor”.
India’s multidimensionally poor more than Nigeria’s population
The global 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index, published in October by the United Nations Development Programme and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, shows that 415 million people exited multidimensional poverty in India over about 15 years.
The United Nations Population Fund’s estimate of Nigeria’s population was 216.7 million in 2022. This means the number of people living in multidimensional poverty in India is more than Nigeria’s population.
The index notes that globally, there are about 1.2 billion people living in multidimensional poverty and that it is “nearly double the number of people in monetary poverty”.
What of the world poverty clock
The World Poverty Clock by World Data Lab is widely accepted for comparing poverty rates among countries.
It provides real-time data on the number of people escaping or falling into poverty globally. It measures monetary poverty and defines people living in extreme poverty as those living on less than $1.90 a day.
As of 14 December 2022, when the town hall took place, it showed that 608.36 million people were living in extreme poverty worldwide. Out of these, 69.98 million were in Nigeria and 51.1 million were in India.
Sanni said India may have a lower number of people living under $1.90 a day because the Indian rupee has a lower exchange rate to the US dollar compared to Nigeria’s naira.
You need 82.6 rupees to buy 1 dollar, which is officially worth 415 naira.
Obi’s claim is correct for monetary poverty but incorrect for the multidimensional poverty he specifically spoke to.
Nigeria’s last census was in 2006, when the population was 140 million people. Ever since, the country has relied on estimates.
The United Nations Population Fund provides population estimates for all countries, along with data on various health indices.
Seven times Nigeria’s population estimate of 216.7 million would be about 1.52 billion, more than India’s total population. But India’s population is more than six times the size of Nigeria’s.
According to budget documents, South Africa allocated R396.4 billion to education for its 2020/21 financial year, or R16.4 billion more than Obi claimed. For the 2019/20 year it set aside R385.6 billion
Nigeria’s central bank official exchange rate is 1 rand to 25.5 naira. Taking the lower figure for South Africa’s education budget works out to N9.8 trillion.
While his point is clear, his maths is way off, as that is more than double Nigeria’s education budget for six years.
Obi also claimed South Africa’s education budget was 14 to 16% of its total budget in 2020.
The 2020/21 figure of R396.4 billion was 20.3% of the country’s total R1.95 trillion budget
Obi said Nigeria had overtaken India in infant mortality.
Historical data published by the World Bank shows that Nigeria has consistently had a higher infant mortality than India since 1964.
Nigeria has consistently had a higher infant mortality rate, contrary to the claim.
India doing better at reducing infant mortality
India is doing better than Nigeria in reducing infant mortality and other types of child mortality, Kolade Ernest, a professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Ilorin in north-central Nigeria, told Africa Check.
Ernest said the high prevalence of infectious diseases and low immunisation rates were some of the reasons at play.
“In many rural areas in Nigeria, hygiene and waste disposal are major factors. With open defecation still rampant and access to safe drinking water difficult, infant mortality rate will remain high,” he said.
He gave poverty as another reason. “Severe acute malnutrition is a major contributor to infant and under-five mortality. Very poor parents are unable to feed their babies adequately and in some cases the babies don’t survive.”
Malnutrition was also an outcome of insecurity, with many farmers in Nigeria unable to grow food, unlike in India “where there is a lot of mechanised farming”.
Ernest said India was also doing better at implementing child survival strategies.
Obi said according to World Bank data, Nigeria’s per capita income was $2,280 in 2010, and Bangladesh’s $781.
However, Bangladesh’s per capita income in 2010 was slightly higher than one-third of Nigeria’s per capita income that year. Exactly one-third would have been if Bangladesh’s figure was $760.13.
But did Bangladesh triple its 2010 per capita income by 2021?
According to the World Bank, Bangladesh had a per capita income of $781.20 in 2010. Three times this is $2,343.60.
This shows that the South Asia country’s 2021 per capita income of $2,503 was more than three times its 2010 per capita income.
In contrast to Bangladesh’s success, Obi said Nigeria did so badly that its per capita income dropped by 20% between 2010 and 2021.
Starting with a per capita income of $2,280.40 in 2010, Nigeria ended up with $2,085 in 2021.
In the period under review, Nigeria’s per capita income dropped from $2,280.40 to $2,085, a difference of $195.40. This is a drop of 8.6%, far from Obi’s 20%.
Candidate: Rabiu Kwankwaso,
New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP)
Rabiu Kwankwaso was governor of the northwestern Nigerian state of Kano from 1999 to 2003. He returned in 2011 for another term, which ended in 2015.
Kwankwaso said prior to his second term in 2011, the state was setting aside 30% of its annual budget to capital expenditure and 70% to recurrent expenditure.
For 2011, his predecessor Ibrahim Shekarau presented a budget of N109 billion to the Kano state house of assembly.
However, it is unlikely the recurrent-to-capital expenditure ratio would have changed significantly. Even if all the extra N13 billion that was approved was added to either the capital or recurrent expenditure the resulting ratio would still not come close to the claim.
Kwankwaso claimed that by the time he was leaving office, he had switched the ratio around, to 30% capital and 70% recurrent expenditure.
The last Kano state budget prepared by Kwankwaso’s administration was for 2015.
The most recent records of oil production from the Central Bank of Nigeria are from October 2022. That month Nigeria produced an average of 1.01 million barrels a day.
Previously checked claims:
He claimed that:
- He ran Kano state without borrowing.
- He had paid off the state’s debt by the time he left office in 2003 and 2015.
We checked both claims and rated them incorrect.