As the running mate to the candidate seen as Muhammadu Buhari’s main challenger, Peter Obi is both popular and under watch.
While wanting change, a good number of Nigerians are not willing to gulp down just anything from any candidate. Promises and claims have to be backed by feasibility and evidence
The vice presidential debate last week was an opportunity to hear the Opposition tackle the Buhari administration, with facts. There were five debaters on stage, but the night really was about Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Mr Obi. Both candidates made lots of claims on issues ranging from poverty to bank loans, to agriculture and education.
At least four publications have looked at Mr Obi’s claims, revealing those that are true and false. From these, we show his false claims rate during the debate and the extent to which he may have intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented scenarios.
False rate: 75%
On four claims examined by Aisha Salaudeen in Stears Business, two on number of vehicles and on Nigeria earning 80% of its foreign exchange from oil were rated as factually incorrect. His description of Nigeria’s fall on the global competitive index was incorrect. Salaudeen credits him for correctly stating that Nigeria’s out-of-school children population is the highest in the world.
False rate: 43%
Premium Times’ Oladeinde Olawoyin and Ebuka Onyeji checked seven of Obi’s claims. They found three of them to be false, three true and one – on the sustainability of Nigeria’s debt – as subjective.
False rate: 57%
In The Cable, Mayowa Tijani also finds Obi guilty of incorrect figures on four out of seven claims. Tijani diverged from Salaudeen on the oil earnings claim, rating Obi’s view as a valid point. He gives Obi some credit on the claim that Apple’s market capitalization was bigger than the economies of Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.
False rate: 53%
The most comprehensive work, however, was by ICIR‘s ‘Kunle Adebajo. He spots several false and exaggerated claims by Obi from a set of thirteen examined. The false claims Adebajo spotted include Nigeria’s poverty growth rate being at 6% per minute, and the 40% contribution of manufacturing to the GDPs of China, Indonesia and Malaysia. In all, Adebajo ranks seven claims false, the other six a mix of truths, exaggerations and unverifiable statements.
Like Tijanji, Adebajo diverges from Stears Business on how much of Nigeria’s foreign exchange oil earns, considering Obi’s 80% an understatement. Perhaps the disagreement here is symbolic; oil continues to be a contested resource in Nigeria. Going into 2019, we can expect more disagreement centered around it.
The scores above, however they are looked at, cannot be deemed impressive if Nigerians want governance based on reliable facts. Governor Obi appeared to win the psychological battle on the night, looking better prepared and more up for it than Vice President Osinbajo. But an unflattering report on his facts reel provides a cautionary moment.
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