The jewel in the crown: Lagos governor hopefuls fact-checked

Claims

20 claims by Lagos governor hopefuls checked

Source: Debates organised by City that Works Alliance

checked

Verdict

A range of verdicts ranging from misleading to unproven and correct


Nigerians again hit the polling booths on 9 March 2019, this time to vote in governors and state assemblies.

To help inform voters, The City that Works Alliance, a number of professional groups, has in recent weeks organised debates for those who would govern Lagos, the country’s commercial nerve centre. (Disclosure: As part of a partnership with the organisers, Africa Check was asked to verify claims made in the debates.)

The debates took place in February 2019, one for deputy governor candidates and the other for governor candidates.

Seven parties took part, providing 10 candidates. Only three – the Labour Party, the National Conscience Party and the Young Progressives Party were in both debates.

Other parties seeking to run the city are Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, Mega Party of Nigeria, Africa Action Congress and the All Progressives Congress.

But did they all get their facts straight? We looked at several claims.

The economy

Claim

“Lagos is the economic hub of Nigeria. Its economy is among the top two or three in Africa.”

Verdict

unproven

Who: Olufunso Awe, governor candidate, National Conscience Party

Gross domestic product is a measure of the size of a country’s economy. It can also be used for smaller regions such as cities and states.

Awe told Africa Check he was comparing Lagos’s economy with that of other African cities. He added that for GDP, Lagos was only comparable to Johannesburg and Cairo.

The most recent data on Lagos’s GDP is from a survey done from December 2011 to April 2012. It found that the state’s GDP was US$80 billion in 2010, which it said made it the fourth biggest city economy in sub-Saharan Africa after Cairo, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

But in 2014 Nigeria reviewed its economy to better count sectors such as telecoms and the movie industry. This saw national GDP nearly double, from $270 billion to $510 billion.

READ: What do Nigeria’s new GDP numbers really mean?

But the survey took its African cities data from Wikipedia, which notes that comparisons are difficult as data is collected in different ways. Without more reliable and newer data we can’t prove or disprove this claim. (Note: We have contacted the state for when it will have newer GDP data).     

Claim

“Lagos contributes significantly to Nigeria’s GDP.”

Verdict

correct

Who: Adesina Ibrahim, deputy governor candidate, Young Progressives Party

The statistics bureau’s latest data shows that Nigeria’s nominal GDP was N127.76 trillion in 2018. But it doesn’t break this down by states.

GDP data for Lagos, one of 36 states, is only available for 2010, when its output of  N12.09 trillion made up 35.6% of the national total.

Claim

“Multiple taxation is real in Lagos but, statistically, less than 10% of the population of Lagos pay tax.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Olufunso Awe, governor candidate, National Conscience Party

The most recent publicly available official figures on taxpayers in Lagos state is from 2016.

The tax report from the Lagos Internal Revenue Service put the state’s total number of taxpayers at 4.9 million.  

In 2016 the population of Lagos was estimated at 12.6 million by the National Bureau of Statistics. But population numbers in Nigeria are highly contested – a state governor is on record saying the population is more than 24 million. The state also gives its population as 24.6 million in 2015.

For taxpayers to be only 10% of the population, Lagos would need about 50 million people. We therefore rate this claim as incorrect.

Claim

“About 60% of taxes in Lagos is paid by civil servants.”

Verdict

unproven

Who: Prof Ifagbemi Awamaridi, governor candidate, Labour Party

State authorities have estimated Lagos’s taxpayers at 4.9 million in 2016 and 5.3 million in 2017.

The state deducts tax from civil servants’ salaries at source, but we couldn’t find verified data on the share of taxes paid by public workers.

Taiwo Oyedele, head of tax and corporate advisory services at PwC Nigeria, said civil servants could pay up to 60% of Lagos taxes. “The figure is up to that. However, I can’t lay my hands on data to back it up,” he told Africa Check.

Claim

“The APC government has taken the state’s monthly internally generated revenue from N600 million in 1999 to N33 billion.”

Verdict

correct

Who: Obafemi Hamzat, deputy governor candidate, All Progressives Congress

In 1999, under former governor Bola Tinubu, Lagos generated monthly revenue of N600 million, according to the World Bank. In May 2018 the state’s top financial officer said Lagos was generating about N34 billion a month in own revenue.

Claim

“People say the internally generated revenue is high, but the budget of Lagos state is less than $3 billion.”

Verdict

mostly-correct

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

Hamzat, who has headed the state’s infrastructure and science dockets, said Lagos’s budget was too low for its needs.

Does Nigeria’s commercial capital operate on less than $3 billion? The 2019 budget is yet to be law, but the 2018 budget was N1.046 trillion, or $3.42 billion at the official rate of N306 to a dollar.

However, the state’s budget was $2.2 billion in 2016; $2.7 billion in 2017 and $2.8 billion proposed for 2019 – all less than $3 billion. On the balance of this trend we find this claim mostly correct.

Claim

“[Lagos’s budget] is what the city of New York uses to fight fire.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

Hamzat said the state’s budget was equivalent to that of New York city’s fire department.

New York’s 2018 budget was $84.9 billion, with $2.04 billion going to the fire department. Lagos’s 2018 budget was $3.42 billion, so the candidate was off the mark by about $1.38 billion.

Claim

“The budget of the New York police department is twice that of Lagos State.”

Verdict

exaggerated

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

The New York Police Department’s approved budget for 2018 was $5.57 billion. Lagos’s 2018 budget was N1.046 trillion, or $3.42 billion at the official rate of N306 to a dollar.

This is not half the budget of the NYPD. Hamzat would have been more on the mark in 2017, when Lagos’s budget was N812.99 billion ($2.7 billion), half what New York police spent – $5.58 billion.

Claim

“About 56% of VAT collection in this country comes from Lagos.”

Verdict

unproven

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

In 2018 national collection of value added tax was N1.103 trillion, from N972.3 billion in 2017.

Recent comparable full data for Lagos is however incomplete: From January to June 2018 it collected N8.03 billion, and N6.38 billion for the first six months of 2017.

But while Lagos accounts for “most consumption” VAT receipts are “confidential”, Federal Inland Revenue Service spokesperson Wahab Gbadamosi told Africa Check.

“I may not be able to give you figures that say either 50 or 90% of VAT, those documents are confidential, I don’t have the figure that more than 56% of VAT comes from Lagos.” In the absence of this information we rate this claim unproven.

Claim

“…and then we (Lagos) don’t get it back.”

Verdict

misleading

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

Again using the example of New York, Hamzat said the US city was able to do more for its residents as it kept a large chunk of the sales tax it collected.

The federation account allocation report released by the National Bureau of Statistics in December 2018 shows how the central government shared the month’s revenue.

Lagos got N8.23 billion, or 59.4%, of the N13.85 billion it generated in VAT that month.

Population

Claim

“The population of Lagos is unknown.”

Verdict

correct

Who: Olufunso Awe, governor candidate, National Conscience Party

Lagos’s population has been a source of controversy since the disputed 2006 national census – Nigeria’s most recent.

That count put the population of Lagos at 9 million. The state government rejected this, claiming the correct number was 17.5 million. On its website the state gives the population as 24.6 million in 2015.

However, the National Bureau of Statistics estimated Lagos’s population at 12.6 million in 2016.

Health

Claim

“Presently, we don’t have primary healthcare centres in Lagos.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Oluwasegun Musa, governor candidate, Advanced Nigeria Democratic party

Musa likened the primary healthcare centres in Lagos to immunisation centres.

There are five types of health institution in Nigeria,  according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. The agency lists the minimum requirements of each.

Those classified as primary health centres – which must cover at least 10 voting wards, serving 10,000 to 20,000 people in a local government – 288 meet the requirements in Lagos.

They offer more than routine immunisation.

Education

Claim

“What Lagos is using to service debt is higher than what it devotes to education.”

Verdict

exaggerated

In 2017 Lagos spent N30.9 billion servicing its total debt of N874.38 billion. The budget for education that year was N92.44 billion.   

In 2016 the state spent N13.2 billion on its debt of  N603.25 billion and allocated N113.379 billion to education.

Claim

“The recommended percentage of the budget that should go to education according to the United Nations is 26%.”

Verdict

unproven

Who: Olufunso Awe, governor candidate, National Conscience Party

Awe said successive governments had not adequately funded education. Lagos allocated less than the share the UN recommended for education, which he said was 26% of the state’s annual budget.

The claim that countries should attribute 26% of their budget to education is popular in Nigeria and often attributed to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

But we could find no evidence of it. The UN agency does have a “recommended” 15% to 20% of the annual budget, but this is for countries, not states.

Claim

“Local governments by law are supposed to take care of primary schools across the country.”

Verdict

correct

Who: Obafemi Hamzat, deputy governor candidate, All Progressives Congress

Lagos state government taking on the responsibilities of local governments was also discussed.

Hamzat said local governments should ideally run primary education, but state governments took over when local governments failed to pay teachers’ salaries.

Nigeria’s constitution clearly states that local governments are responsible for “the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education”.

Infrastructure

Claim

“ All public infrastructure in the state from that time complied with the [Lagos State Special Peoples] act.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

The Lagos State Special Peoples Bill was passed by the state in August 2010, becoming law in June 2011.

It requires public institutions to be accessible to people living with disabilities.

But there are gaps in the implementation of the law, David Anyaele, executive director of Centre for Citizen with Disabilities, told Africa Check.

A 2018 study by the organisation found enforcement “has been very weak” and a number of state facilities were “largely inaccessible”, Anyaele said.

Claim

“We are the only sub-sovereign in the world that is funding a rail longer than 7 kilometres from its balance sheet; it never happens anywhere in the world.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Obafemi Hamzat

We find this claim inaccurate. Lagos is funding such a project from its resources, but external funds have also been used.

The Lagos Urban Rail Network of urban rail lines is expected to cover seven high-demand corridors of the state, at an estimated cost of $135 million.

But commercial loans, concessions and bonds have been added to the state’s funding, according to two former state governors. They include a N160 billion loan from the World Bank.

The city of Beijing and the northern Indian city of Uttar Pradesh have also used this financing model.

Claim

“ Amsterdam is a city below sea level, like Lagos, but it does not suffer flooding like Lagos.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Olufunso Awe, governor candidate, National Conscience Party

While parts of Lagos could be affected by a rise in sea level, no part of the city is below sea level.  

Nigeria is not on a list of 33 countries in the world with land below sea level.

The Netherlands is listed. A topographic map shows nearly half the country lies below sea level, including parts of Amsterdam. The country is said to have one of the world’s best flood control systems but still experiences occasional flooding.

Services

Claim

“Clearing the rubbish [waste] you see on the road is the responsibility of the local governments.”

Verdict

correct

Who: Olayemi Oladapo, deputy governor candidate, African Action Congress

Nigeria has 774 local governments spread across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory. Lagos has 20 local governments.

Nigeria’s constitution spells out the functions of a local government.

These include “the provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal”.

Governance

Claim

“The freedom of information act has not been domesticated in Lagos. ”

Verdict

misleading

Who:  Adesina Ibrahim, deputy governor candidate, Young Progressives Party

Lagos state was not open about its operations, many debaters said. Nigeria’s freedom of information act was signed into law in 2011.

Lagos often knocks back requests for information under this law. But in 2017 a court ruled that the law does apply to the state, where it does not require “domestication” to take effect. The ruling has been upheld by higher courts, but information from the state is still hard to come by. The state government’s books remain largely closed to the public.
We rate this claim misleading as the existing court ruling ends the argument on domestication of the law.

Gender equality

Claim

“YPP is the only party in Lagos with a woman as its governorship candidate.”

Verdict

incorrect

Who: Adesina Ibrahim, deputy governor candidate, Young Progressives Party

Apart from the YPP, six other parties have women as their candidates for Lagos governor.

These are the Africa Peoples Alliance, Allied Peoples Movement,  Progressive Peoples Alliance, Providence People’s Congress and People’s Trust.

Sports

Claim

“Lagos state does not have a football team.”

Verdict

correct

Who: Alawuye Ibrahim, deputy  governor candidate, Labour Party

While other states own football clubs, “it’s surprising and very bad” that Lagos doesn’t, Ibrahim said.

The state doesn’t own a football club in any known league, according to the Lagos State Sports Commission.

It does allow private clubs to use its facilities, Abimbola Awoyele, a sports journalist, told Africa Check. It also funds some clubs.


Further reading:

 

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