About 100 million Nigerians are living in poverty, a national Nigerian newspaper reported Peter Obi as saying. Obi is the Labour Party’s 2023 presidential election candidate. The Nation said Obi was responding to Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, candidate for the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), who is reported to have said he would not be Obi’s running mate.
In an interview on Arise TV on 6 July 2022, Obi said: “The comment by the elder brother Kwankwaso is the reason why we have 100 million Nigerians living in poverty, 18 million Nigerian children out of school, and about 52% of Nigerians either unemployed or underemployed.”
“This is because rather than vote for competent leaders, we vote for incompetence due to a primitive consideration of religion and ethnicity,” Obi added.
There have been talks in the country of the Labour Party and the NNPP uniting as a “third force” to rival the main parties, the governing All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
But do 100 million Nigerians live in poverty? Are 18 million children out of school? And are more than half of Nigerians employed or underemployed?
“At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million,” the World Data Lab said.
In June 2022, the clock estimated that 83.1 million Indians lived in extreme poverty, compared to 83 million Nigerians.
The World Bank measures extreme poverty as the number of people living on less than US$1.90 per day.
The data from the widely used poverty tracking tool does not support Obi’s claim.
Is there any other data?
In May 2020, the Nigeria Living Standard Survey estimated that 82.9 million people lived in poverty. But the survey, by the country’s data office, did not use the World Bank’s $1.90 poverty benchmark.
Based on the exchange rate in July 2022, this has dropped from $353 per year to $332 per year, or $0.91 a day.
The national statistics office’s data still does not support Obi’s claim.
The Institute for Statistics (UIS), the official data agency of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, provides internationally comparable data on education.
The UIS defines out-of-school children as the number of children and young people in the official age range, for the given level of education, who are not enrolled in pre-primary, primary, secondary or higher levels of education.
In 2019 it revised its methods. But 18 million remains the most recent figure in its database. We have reached out to the UIS for more details and will update this report with their response.
What does other data show?
The commission was established by the federal government to provide better access to education in Nigeria.
In January 2022, Peter Hawkins, a representative from Unicef, the UN agency that focuses on the well-being of children, said Nigeria’s 10.5 million out-of-school children was the highest number in the world.
We have asked Unicef for details of how they calculated this figure. We will update this report with their response. In the meantime, because of the widely differing estimates, we can only rate this claim as unproven.
The most recent official data shows the national unemployment rate was 33.3% in the last three months of 2020. In absolute terms this is 23.18 million people.
The labour force data was collected from 33,300 households in the country’s 36 states and the federal capital territory.
The data shows another 22.8% of Nigeria’s working population – or 15.9 million people – were underemployed.
Underemployed people work for at least 20 hours a week on average but less than 40 hours per week, or are engaged in an activity that underutilised their skills, time and educational qualifications.
This means 56.1% of Nigeria’s working population were either unemployed or underemployed. Obi’s estimate is therefore largely on the money.