Home Banditry FACT CHECK: Verifying Peter Obi’s claims at Chatham House
FACT CHECK: Verifying Peter Obi’s claims at Chatham House

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, presented his policy plans at Chatham House on January 17, 2023. During the question and answer session, he made various claims about his track record and the Nigerian economy.

We checked some of his claims, and here is what we found:

Claim 1

No member of his party was in the state House of Assembly when he took office in 2007. Obi made this claim to support his argument that he could become president without the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Verification

Peter Obi became the governor of Anambra state in 2007 under the umbrella of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). As of the time he became governor, we found that his party indeed had no seat in the state House of Assembly and at the federal level.

Peer-reviewed publications on governance in Anambra state show that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was voted into all 30 seats in 2003 and 2007. At the federal level, APGA also did not win any seats in 2007. By 2011, things were different as four political parties aside from the PDP produced house members.

The House of Assembly formation for 2011: APGA-16, PDP-8, ACN-4, Labour Party-1, and Accord party-1.

Image shows the makeup of the Nigerian Senate and House of Reps in 2007

Verdict

Obi’s claim that he had none of his party members at the state House of Assembly is true.

Claim 2

Peter Obi while explaining the issue of debt in Nigeria, stated that the United States’ debt was over 100% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He added that China’s debt-to-GDP was over 60%, while Japan’s debt-to-GDP stood at over 230%.

Verification

The US government says its total debt stood $30.93tn as of September, 2022, while its GDP in Q3 2022 stood at $25.72 trillion. This shows that the United States debt-to-GDP as of September 2022 was more than 120%.

It stood at 134.24% in 2020 according to Statista and 128.1% in 2021 according to the IMF.

According to Statista, China had 76.89% debt-to-GDP in 2022. IMF data also shows that the country’s debt-to-GDP stood at 71.48% in 2021.

Japan, on the other hand, had a debt-to-GDP of 262.5 % in 2021 and 263.9% in 2022 according to IMF and Statista.

Verdict

Peter Obi was correct to say the debt-to-GDP of the United States was over 100%. However, his figures for Japan and China are inaccurate.

Claim 3

Obi claimed Niger state is 76,300 square kilometers of land, and seven of its local government is under the control of bandits. He added that Niger State is two and a half the size of the Netherlands and the Netherlands’ agricultural export was $120bn.

Verification

Using a simple search, we find that Wikipedia reports the size of Niger state is 76,363 km², which is what Obi quotes.

However, data from the office of the surveyor general of the federation, as published by the National Bureau of Statistics, shows that the size of Niger state is 68,925 km².

According to World Bank, the size of the Netherlands is 33,670 km². Two and a half of 33,670 is 84,175. While Niger state is significantly bigger than the Netherlands, it is not two and half times the size of the country.

The Netherlands’ agricultural export hit a record of $110 billion in 2021, as reported by Bloomberg and the Washington Post. By 2022, the country’s agric export increased to $122 billion, according to fresh data published by Statistics Netherlands after Obi’s speech.

Concerning the claim that seven local governments are currently under the control of bandits, there have been disparities in reports about this. In March 2022, Ripples reported that 14 local governments were currently under the control of Bandits, Sahara Reporters in the same month stated 12, ThisDay newspaper reported that seven local governments were constantly being attacked by bandits, the report was made in January 2022.

Verdict

Peter Obi’s claims about the landmass of Niger state and the Netherlands are inaccurate. While the Netherlands has enormous agricultural export, the numbers being bandied by the Labour Party Candidate are incorrect. His claim about bandit attacks in Niger state is largely correct.

Claim 4

Peter Obi claimed that River Niger is 4,200km long, River Benue is 1,200km long and River Nile is 6,650km long.

Verification

According to Britannica, River Niger which is the third longest in Africa has a length of 4,200km (2,600miles). The Nile river, on the other hand, is 6,650km (4,132 miles). Different sources say River Benue is between 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) and 1.083 km (673 miles) long.

Verdict

Yes, Peter Obi’s claim about the rivers is true.

*This Fact Check was updated to include fresh data from Statistics Netherlands

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