Home Election FACT CHECK: Verifying Peter Obi’s claims at the People’s Town Hall
FACT CHECK: Verifying Peter Obi’s claims at the People’s Town Hall

Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, made multiple controversial claims at a town hall meeting held by Channels Television on January 8, 2023. Obi made these claims while speaking extensively on major issues and challenges faced by various sectors of the country. But how true are they?

While discussing the economy, Obi said Nigeria’s debt profile has grown five times in size since 2015.

“In 2015, our cumulative debt was about 15 Trillion. Today, it’s about 75, it’s grown five times the size, so it’s now 415  to 75, we are talking about a 400% increase,” he said.  

Did Nigeria Debt profile increase at the rate Obi claims?

Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) recently released a press statement that the next administration will inherit a public debt of N77 trillion if the N23 trillion loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are securitised.

According to DMO, Nigeria’s public debt at the end of 2015 was N12.6 trillion — not N15 trillion as Obi claims.

Verdict

While Obi’s numbers are not entirely accurate, the point he was making with the claim is accurate. The data shows that the country’s debt jumped from N12.6 trillion in 2015 to an expected N77 trillion at the end of the incumbent APC administration in 2022. This represents more than a five times increase in the country’s debt profile.

Nigeria’s GDP per capita is now $2,000?

Obi claimed that Nigeria’s GDP was over $500 billion in 2015, and GDP per capita was $2,550, but today the country’s GDP per capita is $2,000.

According to the data from the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 2015 was $2,679.6, with a GDP of $493.03 billion. As of 2022, Nigeria’s GDP per capita had dwindled to $2,065.7.

Verdict

The statement made by Peter Obi is not entirely true. Nigeria’s GDP as of 2015 was not “over $500 billion” as Obi claimed — the GDP stood at $493.03 billion. In 2014 however, Nigeria’s GDP was $574.2 billion — over $500 billion. For GDP per capita, Obi was also not entirely accurate with the numbers, but the point he was making about a fall in the numbers is accurate.

Was Peter Obi number one in Education according to the UNDP?

Peter Obi claimed that according to the UNDP, he was number one in Education during his tenure as the governor of Anambra state.

“I was number one in Education -this is by UNDP, not by Nigeria o. By UNDP, I was number one in Education, by Nigeria and WAEC,” he said.

Verdict

This claim is largely true, for in the last three years of his administration, Anambra state, which was previously ranked 26th position out of 36 states in education, became 1st position. This ranking is based on the results of NECO and WAEC assessments. In 2012, an Anambra student emerged overall best candidate in both the NECO and WASSCE examinations.

Obi was awarded by the Millenium Development Goals Office (OSSAP-MDGs) and the UNDP for the implementation of the MDG programs in Nigeria —which included Education.

Did Obi run a women-inclusive administration as a governor?

When asked what he would do to ensure women’s inclusion in his government if elected as the president, Obi made reference to his past, claiming that women “took over” during his administration.

“As governor of Anambra state, my chief of staff, woman; permanent secretary government house, woman. Commissioner for finance, woman; accountant general, woman; head of service, woman. Commissioner for youths and sports, woman; commissioner for education, commissioner for local government… I say they took over,” Obi said.

The CDD election war room checked and found this to be largely true. Chinyere Okunna, a woman, was Obi’s chief of staff from 2012 to 2014. She recently told The Punch that “from his first tenure to the second tenure as governor, women occupied very important positions in Peter Obi’s government”.

In 2012, Peter Obi swore in new commissioners and advisers, and amongst them were Ngozi Okoye, commissioner for Finance; Vivian Nwandu, a retired permanent secretary in the Ministry of Budget and planning, who was named the Special Adviser on MDGs.

In 2014, amongst the 19 commissioners sworn in by the Anambra state house of Assembly were Kate Emenuga, commissioner for Education; Florence Chinwhuba, commissioner for housing; Ricky Chukwumelu, commissioner for women affairs; and Stella Onuorah, commissioner for Lands. 

Verdict

We can safely conclude that Peter Obi’s claims as regards women-inclusion in politics during his administration are largely correct. It should however be noted that at every point during his administration, there were more men in key positions than women. He ran an inclusive government, but women did not “take over” as he claimed.

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