By Valentine Obienyem
Economic data is not fixed, such data is based on specific date or period. Though the figures change every second, periodic figures are used for range of time until the data provider publishes updated figures. This explains why Nigeria’s unemployment rate is still quoted at 18.8% despite the fact that the data is more than one year old. Provided no current figure is available, the latest figure remains the most reliable.
Having researched the figures quoted by Mr. Peter Obi at the Vice Presidential debate, I wish to present to you the comprehensive source of data that Mr. Obi quoted during the debate. I can understand why some people, desirous of massaging the pains of the “knock-out blow” he gave to the incumbent Vice President during the debate have gathered together to attack him like antibodies gathering to attack an infection. What are they doing? They are questioning the accuracy of the data he used during the debate because he tossed them up and set them on their feet now and then like a jolly juggler tossing objects into the air with admirable candour. Ridiculously, some of them said that “after all the man is not a computer!”
The fact is that one can argue about Obi’s parsimony; whether as a trader he would leave his shop chasing criminal or not; but one cannot argue about his affinity with facts and figures which is as strong as the attraction between an antigen and an antibody.
I also see people faulting his comparison of Nigeria with countries like China, Turkey, Mexico and South Africa. He uses those countries because in the eighties, Nigeria was at par with them in most economic indicators. In choosing them, typical of his nature, he was just trying to act like a gadfly, provoking Nigerians to seek answers to the reasons those countries left us behind.
For those in love with the Cross checking of facts, I will present the sources of the date Obi used during the debate. Let me forewarn readers, as I said earlier, that economic data do not obey the laws of exactitude.
Here we go!.
1. Obi said Nigeria used over 50% of her revenue to service debt
Facts: According to DMO’s 2017 reports on Nigeria’s debt stock and total debt service, Total Debt Service as %age of FGN Retained Revenue was 58.56% in 2017.
2. Obi said the country’s total debt stock was N22.7 trillion, about USD80 billion.
Facts: According to DMO’s June 2018 report on Nigeria’s debt stock, Nigeria’s total debt stock was N22.38 trillion or USD73.21 billion using an official exchange rate of N305.70/USD. When we add the USD2.8 billion Eurobond issued in November 2016, the total debt stock comes to USD76.01 billion.
3. Obi said that Mexico’s GDP was over USD1 trillion and its GDP per capita was over USD8,000.
Facts: According to the world bank (source: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD?locations=MX&view=chart), Mexico’s 2017 GDP (constant 2010) was USD1.28 trillion while its GDP per capita (constant 2010) was USD9,946.16
4. Obi said that South Africa’s stock market capitalization was USD900 billion.
Facts: According to Stock Market Clock (https://www.stockmarketclock.com/exchanges/jse), in March 2018, South Africa’s market capitalization was USD891.74 billion.
5. Obi said that Nigerian bank loans made up 15% of GDP.
Facts: According to world bank (source: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/FD.AST.PRVT.GD.ZS?locations=NG&view=chart), Nigeria’s domestic credit to private sector by banks as a percentage of GDP was 14.15%.
6. Obi said that Nigeria had the highest number of Poor at 87 million – growing by 6 persons per minute
Facts: According to a Brookings Institute publication, “The start of a new poverty narrative” published by Homi Kharas, Kristofer Hamel, and Martin Hofer on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 (source: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2018/06/19/the-start-of-a-new-poverty-narrative/), “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. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall. In fact, by the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today.”
7. Obi said that Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking moved from 152 – 157
Fact: HDI ranking moved from 152 – 157 (Source:
8. Obi said that Nigeria’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) ranking moved from 124 – 127
Fact: GCI ranking actually moved from 124 (Source:
http://reports.weforum.org/, Global Competitiveness Reports).
9. Obi said that Nigeria’s Stress ranking was 148 out of 149
Fact: Stress ranking was 148 out of 150 (Source:
10. Obi said that the Misery Index in Nigeria worsened
Fact: Nigeria’s Misery Index ranked 6th position in 2017 with a score of 52.1 (Source:
11. Obi said that Unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria rose from 24% to 40%
Fact: Nigeria’s Unemployment and underemployment rose to 40.00% in Q3 2017 from 33.60% in Q3 2016 and 27.30% in Q3 2015 (Source: National Bureau of Statistics unemployment data for the respective periods)
12. Obi said that Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children
Fact: According to a July 25, 2017 BBC report titled “Nigeria’s has largest number of children out of school in the world” and which quoted a UNICEF publication titled on Quality Basic Education” (Source: https://www.unicef.org/nigeria/education.html), Primary school enrolment has increased in recent years, but net attendance is only about 70 per cent, but Nigeria still has 10.5 million out-of-school children – the world’s highest number. Sixty per cent of those children are in northern Nigeria. In fact, Nigeria’s out-of-school children is now 13.5million.
13. Obi said that the FG budgeted N340 billion on health and paid over N1 trillion on PMS subsidy. Education budget was about N400 billion.
Facts: According to Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation now spends a total of N1.4 trillion annually as subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit. Source: https://punchng.com/subsidy-on-petrol-hits-n1-4tn-per-year-says-fg/. The Punch Newspapers (online), April 06, 2018.
According to FG’s budget office (Source: http://budgetoffice.gov.ng/index.php/resources/internal-resources/budget-documents), total allocation to the Federal Ministry of Health for 2018 was N340.46 billion; hence, annual PMS subsidy payment is 4.11 times 2018 health budget. Alternatively, health budget is 24% of annual PMS subsidy.
Total allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education for 2018 was N605.79 billion; hence annual PMS subsidy is 2.31 times 2018 education budget. Alternatively, education budget is 43.27% of annual PMS subsidy.
14. Obi said that the ease of doing business ranking was currently at 146. However, all the BRIC and MINT countries were below 100
Fact: For the BRIC countries, Brazil ranked 109, Russia 31, India 77 and China 46 while for MINT countries Mexico ranked 54, Indonesia 73, Nigeria 146 and Turkey 43 (Source:
15. Obi said that Small Medium Enterprises Contributed 60% to China’s GDP, 60% of employment and 80% of urban employment
Fact: According to a report by CBNEditor on chinabankingnews.com website which was published on June 22, 2018, Small, medium and micro-enterprises account for over 90% of all market entities in China, over 80% of nationwide employment, more than 70% of patents, over 60% of GDP and more than 50% of tax revenues. (Source:
16. Obi said that China created 7.2 million jobs within first 6 months in 2018
Fact: According to a report on chinadaily.com.cn website titled “China added 375 million jobs in past 40 years”, which was updated on September 17, 2018, a total of 7.52 million new jobs were generated in urban areas in the first six months – 170,000 more than the same period last year. The urban registered unemployment rate stood at 3.83 percent at the end of June. (Source:
17. Obi said that Nigeria’s 4,000 MW electricity generation was too low
Fact: The Nigeria Electricity System Operator of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) on Monday said that it generated 4,176 Mega Watts (MW) at 06:00 hour of Sunday, 02 December 2018. Meanwhile, at 06:00 hours of Saturday, 01 December 2018, the Nigeria Electricity System Operator of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) daily report said that the electricity market recorded 4,124MW energy generation. Whereas the electricity market, according to the report, has a maximum available capacity of 7,652.6 (MW), what it sent out on Friday, 30 November 2018 was 3,910.40 MW, an indication of un-utilized 3,742.2MW on the day under review. (Source: https://www.nigeriaelectricityhub.com/2018/12/04/electricity-market-generates-4176mw/