President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in an exclusive interview with international news outfit Bloomberg said his administration will be leaving Nigeria in better shape than it met it in 2015. The president also stated that he is leaving Nigeria’s economy better than he met it in 2015 when he assumed office.
According to the president, “We leave Nigeria in a far better place than we found it. Corruption is less hidden, for Nigerians feel empowered to report it without fear, while money is returned; terrorists no longer hold any territory in Nigeria, and their leaders are deceased; and vast infrastructure development sets the country on course for sustainable and equitable growth.”
Although the President made extensive comments on different sectors, CDD/Daily Trust verified his claim on the economy, and found out that what the president said were largely false.
Verifying the president’s claim, Daily Trust analysed key economic indices which meet the World Bank’s criteria to ascertain whether an economy is performing or not. These criteria include inflation, debt level, exchange rate, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment rate and distribution of natural resources.
Nigeria’s inflation rate in 2015 was a single digit of 9.01 per cent. A breakdown of inflation figures year on year showed that inflation rate at the end of 2015 was 9.01 per cent. In 2016 at the thick of the recession, it skyrocketed to 15.68 per cent. In 2017, it further moved up to 16.52 per cent. It however slowed to 12.09 per cent in 2018 and later 11.40 in 2019.
It again rose to 15.75 per cent in December 2020 which is the highest recorded in the past three years.
In 2021, inflation rate rose for the first time in eight months to 15.63 per cent, the reason attributed to the high yuletide spending.
Subsequently, the latest Consumer Price Index report by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that Nigeria’s inflation rose to 15.7 per cent in February from 15.6 per cent in January.
Inflation rose to its highest level since 2017, rising from 16.82% recorded in April 2022 to 17.71% in May, according to the recently released Consumer Price Index report, by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
On debt level, as of 2015 before President Buhari took over power, Nigeria’s debt revenue stood at N8.8 trillion, according to the Debt Management Office
However, recent statistics from the DMO showed that Nigeria’s debt skyrocketed from N8.8 trillion in 2015 to N41 trillion as at June 2022. This represents an increment of over 500 per cent,
The country’s debt rose from N39.56 trillion in December 2021 to N41.60 trillion in the first three months of 2022 alone.
In the same vein, checks by CDD/Daily Trust show that fuel price at the Buhari government’s inception stood at N87 per litre. As at May 2016, it had moved from N145 per litre representing a 66 per cent increase.
In 2020, it was further reviewed upwards to N162 per litre. The same year, the product sold for between N165 per litre and N220 per litre at the fueling stations. This was further compounded by the unavailability of the product with the major oil marketers saying they could not continue selling fuel at N165 per litre.
In 2015 when President Buhari assumed office, the dollar was exchanging at N198/$ in the parallel market. By 2018, it was N306 to the dollar, and in 2019 it went up to N360 to the dollar and eventually exchanged at N520 in 2021.
From 2021 till date, the dollar at the parallel market is exchanging for between N600 to N610 as a result of the recently concluded party primaries where delegates were said to have been bribed with dollars.
Nigeria’s unemployment rate at the last quarter of 2015 stood at 10.4 per cent according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The figure went up to 14.2 per cent at the end of 2016. At the end of 2017, it moved up to 20.42 per cent. It moved up to 23.1 per cent in 2018 and the latest figures from the NBS indicate that unemployment rate now stands at 33.3 per cent.
Gross Domestic Product
A breakdown of the GDP figures from the National Bureau of Statistics and the World Bank from 2015 to 2020 shows that Nigeria’s GDP in 2015 when President Buhari assumed office stood at $486 billion; it declined to $404 billion when the country slipped into recession.
In 2017, GDP figures further declined to $375 billion. However in 2018, as the economy began to recover, the figures improved to $397 billion. In 2019, the figure surged to $448 billion.
By 2020, in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic which affected virtually every sector of the world economy, Nigeria’s GDP figures declined to $432 billion.
The GDP figures were estimated to have risen to $440 billion in 2021, with 3.98% growth of the economy even though official figures by the World Bank are still being expected.
Verifying the key economic parameters that determine if an economy is in a good shape, checks by CDD/Daily Trust show that the key economic indices as at 2015 were better than what is obtainable currently. As such, the claim by President Buhari that he is leaving a better economy for Nigerians is FALSE.
A screenshot making the rounds claims that the founder and Chairman of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, Prince Arthur Eze, has volunteered to mount 200,000 cameras in all the polling units in Nigeria.
It reads: “Presently one of the richest Africans and Prince Arthur Eze has volunteered to mount 200,000 cameras all over polling units in Nigeria and has said that he won’t be alive for Peter Obi to be rigged out. He also said yesternight that he is donating first installment of $500 million to Obi campaign organization, wahala be like bicycle, we go shake Nigeria. Thanks Ozoigbondu.”
Currently there are 176,846 polling units across Nigeria as mapped out and demarcated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This number is in contrast with the planned 200,000 cameras for all polling units stated in the claim.
Probing further, available information shows that one may pay about $600 to install four or more wireless cameras, a recording system, and Cloud and Smart capabilities. Analyzing this number and cost, it is established that the cost of setting up 200,000 cameras is equivalent to $3 million.
According to multiple sources, Arthur Eze’s net worth is estimated to be around $5.8 billion. Although the amount for installation of the cameras including the claim on donating $500 million for Obi’s presidential campaign would not be difficult for Prince Eze to provide, it should be noted that he did not make the claim as circulated by social media users and blogs.
CDD/Daily Trust can confirm that there is no evidence that Prince Arthur Eze made the claim. The information should be disregarded by members of the general public.
A Facebook user, @Emmanuel Onwubiko, made a post alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) operates voter registration points in Niger Republic.
Full Text: “Rather than talk anyhow, can we investigate the claim that INEC is currently operating voter registration points in Niger Republic. Is this rocket science?”
Under the comment section, another Facebook user, Fami Ajala also commented by saying “It is alleged that there are about 21 INEC offices operating in Niger Republic.”
Similarly a Twitter user, Nche Nwanbunike had also posted that INEC was having 21 voter registration units in the neighbouring Niger Republic and also blaming the nation’s media for being silent on the matter.
In verifying the claim, CDD/Daily Trust went through the websites INEC to find out if registration centers were extended to Niger Republic, but found out that all the registration points are domiciled in the 36 states of the country including the federal capital territory.
CDD/Daily Trust further reached out to the electoral body to verify the claim. Subsequently, INEC described the social media post that the commission has ‘21 INEC registration centres in Niger Republic as false and unsubstantiated.
Mr. Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, simply told Us that “such post and similar falsehoods should be ignored.”
Oyekanmi, said, “The post was an unsubstantiated allegation made by a Twitter user, Nche Nwanbunike. The person who made such post should be asked to prove it.”
There has been calls for INEC to extend the June 30 deadline for the continuous voter registration (CVR) amidst a court ruling asking INEC not to close the CVR registration.
CDD/Daily Trust reports that ahead of the 2023 general elections, there is a growing interest among Nigerians to obtain Permanent Voter Cards.
After thorough investigation, we can confirm that there are no polling units in Niger Republic and the claims should be ignored.
Nigeria is confronting a number of critical political and security challenges that are raising serious questions about its identity and survival as a democratic federal republic. First, there is a dramatic breakdown in security that has created a climate of disillusion in the state as a protector of citizens.
Secondly, there is a breakdown of social cohesion in Nigeria with stress lines emerging at the levels of the family, community and state.
Thirdly, there is a significant rise and expansion religious, fueled in part by disinformation and hate speech that circulates across traditional and social media. Fourthly, there is frustration about the country’s political and economic direction, with citizens believing the system is stymied by a reckless political class that is corrupt, self-serving and manipulative. Finally, Nigeria’s elite consensus on federalism and the federal character principle as a guarantee against group discrimination and marginalization is badly shaken.
INSECURITY IN NIGERIA
The state of insecurity in Nigeria has reached unprecedented levels. On a daily basis, well coordinated commando-like operations by gunmen are organized against rural communities where people are kidnapped for ransom, houses burnt, and property looted. Similar attacks are also conducted against the army and police. These attacks are now occurring in virtually all geopolitical zones in the country. According to Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, there are no fewer than 30,000 gunmen spread across more than 100 camps in and around his state alone. These bandits collected N970 million as ransom from the families of their kidnap victims – over 1,100 – in the eight years between 2011 and 2019. During the same period, they killed 2,619 people.
A viral message is currently trending on social media purporting to be a crowdfunding platform popularly known as GoFundMe to assist the family of late Gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu.
The GoFundMe account is said to have realized about N32 million as at the time of the fact check.
The aim of the crowdfunding was said to be for the purpose of raising money for the welfare of late Osinachi’s children.
Daily Trust tried to verify the authenticity of the account and also to know if it was authorised by the family.
Subsequently, a statement made available to Daily Trust on behalf of the family by A. A. Paul, a lawyer, stated that the family did not authorise the crowd funding.
The family also called on Nigerians to discontinue donating to the account as it was not approved by the family.
Part of the statement reads: “We plead with the general public to please respect our privacy. We appreciate the public for their concern and love. All her children are being taken care of and we have not collected any 32 million from anybody nor are we stranded or begging the public in any form as regards to a certain GoFundMe account making rounds. Please everybody should be careful so that you don’t get scammed.
“The burial arrangement is in progress and we shall inform the general public once we have made full preparation. Please remember us in your prayers as we have seen how far the devil can go but in the name of Jesus we are victorious and the bible says that the steps of the righteous shines brighter and brighter unto a perfect day that is our assurance,”
Daily Trust reported the death of Osinachi Nwachukwu on April 8, 2022.
Few days after, there were revelations by family, friends and church members about the domestic abuse she had been allegedly subjected to by her husband
Subsequently, her husband Peter Nwachukwu, was arrested and later arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on a 23-count charge that bordered on culpable homicide.
He however, pleaded not guilty to all the allegations that were contained in the charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
Following Nwachukwu’s insistence of not being guilty, trial judge, Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme, in a short ruling, ordered his remand at the Kuje Correctional Centre, even as she adjourned the case till June 16 and 17 for trial.
The gospel musician came into fame with the hit gospel song, “Ekwueme”, which she paired with Prospa Ochimana.
Checks by CDD/Daily Trust has shown that the GoFundMe account currently soliciting funds for the late Osinachi’s children was not authorized by the family, as such it is FAKE
A viral report claimed that the primary that produced Biodun Oyebanji as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Ekiti Governorship election holding this Saturday, 18 June, has been nullified by an Abuja High Court.
The rumor which was spread on social media and published by several blogs reads: “Less than 72 hours to the conduct of Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday nullified the All Progressives Congress primaries that produced its candidate in the poll, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji.
“The court cited irregularities in the conduct of the primaries conducted to nominate Oyebanji.”
Daily Trust observed the two-paragraph report was reproduced across all platforms that published it.
Debunking the news, the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Segun Dupe, urged Ekiti people and party members to “disregard the rumour and discountenance it as the forlorn wish of some desperate politicians in the state, which cannot come to pass.”
He said, “The warped rumour is a demarketing gimmick of some desperate opposition who are unmindful of the fact that they are causing further damage to their zero chances at the poll, instead of enhancing it.
“…there were some cases filed by some disgruntled elements regarding the governorship primaries we organized in January this year, which saw to the emergence of Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji as the candidate of our party, but none has gone beyond the preliminary stage and all of them have been transferred back to Ekiti for hearing.
“No High Court is sitting on any matter regarding our primary in Abuja as at today. Furthermore, every matter relating to the primary has been adjourned till September this year. To the best of our knowledge, none is up for hearing at the moment.
“The only one perhaps is in the wildest imagination of our detractors, which cannot see the light of day. Our party remains focused on the coming election and sure of untainted victory at the end.”
The results of the primary announced by the Jigawa State Governor and Chairman of the Primary Election Committee, Mohammed Badaru, showed that Oyebanji, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), defeated other aspirants to emerge winner of the election which held in January.
He polled 101,703 votes, while his closest challengers; Ojo Kayode had 767, Opeyemi Bamidele had 760 and Dayo Adeyeye polled 691 votes.
Available facts have proven the purported nullification of the Ekiti State APC governorship primary to be false. Thus, the viral report is misleading.
A Facebook video was posted by one Umuchiukwu Writers with the caption “Igbos living in Lagos denied PVC registration by Federal Government. Only Biafra will save Biafrans.”
In the video, a voice was heard saying in Igbo that “We have not been allowed to register for PVC in Lagos and we have been here since 7am. INEC officials are only attending to those who speak in Yoruba and some Yoruba chiefs were present and allowing only Yorubas to register.”
It was obvious there was no queue nor did the video show any INEC official or Yoruba chiefs.
Daily Trust reached out to Umuchiukwu Writers to verify the authenticity of the video.
He said it was recorded “at Igbede and Ojo areas in the Ojo Local Government Areas of Lagos State on June 9, 2022.”
He however admitted that he was not present at the location.
“I received information from our Igbo brothers there,” he noted.
Meanwhile, in an interview with our correspondent, INEC National Electoral Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, denied that Igbo people were prevented from collecting PVCs.
He said, “The Commission and its officials will not engage in or tolerate any case of voter suppression. The commission has not received any official complaint of voter suppression other than the trending videos. Every Nigerian of registrable age living in any part of Nigeria is entitled to register.
“It’s a sovereign constitutional right. The CVR process has been on for 11 months. The present surge is a peculiar Nigerian 11th-hour syndrome. We have deployed additional IVED, fingerprint scanners, and Thermal Printers to states of acute pressure.
“We are monitoring the CVR process and will explore all options and do whatever is necessary to assist Nigerians register.”
Daily Trust can confirm that the video posted does not have enough evidence to the claim that INEC officials and some Yoruba chiefs prevented Igbos from registering for PVCs.
Claim: The Ekiti State Governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, has claimed that the All Progressives Congress did not engage in vote buying during the June 18, 2022 governorship election which held in the state. Oyebanji made the claim on Monday while briefing State House correspondents after he was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by some party big-wigs led by the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, following his victory in the Saturday poll.
He said that as far as he was concerned, his party did not buy votes, while adding that he did not witness the development in the polling unit where he voted in Ikogosi, Ekiti West LGA.
The governor-elect said he won the election based on the performance of the outgoing administration in which he played a prominent role.
In a bid to ascertain the veracity of the claim, Daily Trust looked at several reports by independent and non-partisan Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media who observed the election.
While some of the reports revealed in details the parties involved in voter inducement along with their locations and amounts involved, some others generally agreed to the fact that there was vote-buying across party lines.
According to the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) who was on the ground to observe the election, its observers documented 41 instances of vote buying and selling at polling units in LGAs like Ado-Ekiti, Ijero, Ikole Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ise/Orun and Moba.
The statement noted that one of the observable patterns of vote buying was the collection of cash in brown envelopes, which was apparently meant to disguise the content of the envelopes in order to avoid arrest by the anti-corruption agencies.
Also, in a post-election statement issued by another independent observer group, Yiaga Africa, vote buying was reported by its observers in Alowodolu/Ojo – The Apostolic P.S Compound with PU code 13/09/04/00 in Ijero Ward D of Ijero LGA.
“Party agents from APC were reportedly sharing N7,000 to voters who showed how their ballot paper was marked. A similar report on vote-buying by APC was received from Open Space At Bamitale Along St. Mary’s Road in Ikere.
“Also, in Ogidi – in Ipoti Ward A, party agents from PDP and SDP were seen bribing voters. At C. A. C. Gramm. Sch. / Ola Oluwa II with PU code 014 in Ado-Ekiti, APC party agent was also reportedly giving N5,000 to voters who confirmed they had voted for the party,” it stated.
Based on evidence contained in reports groups that observed the governorship election, it is not true that the APC didn’t engage in vote buying as claimed by Oyebanji.
A Facebook user, @Lamentations of a Bishop, on Sunday posted a story alleging that the current Anambra State governor Mr. Charles Soludo, said that Mr. Peter Obi’s $20 million investment in Anambra is worth $100 million today.
Verification: While verifying this, Daily Trust went through the verified Facebook and Twitter handles of the governor to see if he made such claims but nothing was found.
Further checks by Daily Trust revealed that the governor had gone to the comment section of the post to debunk the claim.
On his verified Facebook page, @Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the Anambra governor’s reply reads: “Where did you read or hear me make such comments. This Fake News has been roundly debunked by my team. We can always carry on with the campaign for our preferred candidates without consciously misleading the reading public. The report is false and never emanated from me,” he said.
Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the forth coming presidential election.
Mr. Obi is regarded as one of the successful businessmen in Nigeria with franchise spread across the country.
He is also the former governor of Anambra state.
Conclusion: Following the rebuttal by the Anambra state governor, Daily Trust affirms the claim to be FALSE.
This Fact Check is done in collaboration with the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD)
Electoral violence is one of Nigeria’s most significant threats to free, fair, and credible elections. The effects of violence during elections include low voter turnout, the emergence of an unpopular government and ultimately, the loss of lives and properties. In the 2021 governorship elections in Anambra, the state witnessed a spiraling of pre-election violence.
Therefore, under its Strengthening the Delivery of Peace and Security (SDPS) Project funded by the UK AID, the Centre for Democracy and Development implemented peace messaging in election contexts in English, Pidgin and Igbo on radio and television stations in Anambra State
There is a strong positive correlation between national cohesion, peacebuilding, and development. However, the task of unifying the various groups in Nigeria has remained a daunting challenge for every government in Nigeria.
In recognition of the importance of national cohesion in peacebuilding, the Centre for Democracy and Development, under its Strengthening the Delivery of Peace and Security (SDPS) Project funded by the UK AID project, implemented peace and social cohesion messaging on radio and television stations nationwide in English and Pidgin.
A viral post on a Facebook page, O. W. Entertainment, claimed that a mermaid was caught by some brave people who initially went fishing in a river in Nigeria.
The post is captioned: “BREAKING NEWS…mamiwater (river goddess) caught in Nigeria…my beautiful people how Una see this matter because this nor be FOTO shoot ooo.”
In the three-minute video which showed an embedded video of a purported black mermaid, a middle-aged man who identified himself as David said many people didn’t believe that mermaids existed or believed they were white and not black.
He also claimed, among others, that the journey to catch the mermaid was not an easy one as it had been disturbing residents of the area for a long time.
The video as of Thursday morning had garnered more than 10,000 likes and other emojis, 5,200 comments, 16,000 shares and 1.4 million views.
Comments on the post showed that some viewers actually believed the video contains mermaid. Many viewers “thanked God” for subduing the “spirit” while others urged that it should be released before those in the “mermaid kingdom” came to look for the missing mermaid.
“This na another problem them won invite join the wahala dey Nigeria. Abeg make them return her in peace and apologize because they will be looking for her now. Na pesi pikin,” one comment read.
“O nature se mermaid is real, I only watch it in films, this is so scary o…so na Mami water na we de eat no bi fish…this must be the spirit of water I think… God is great hmmm, wonderful God,” another viewer stated.
Analyzing the video
A search by Daily Trust revealed that a Kenyan television station had tweeted about the video, saying “Reports indicating that a mermaid has been spotted in Kwale are fake, police say.” Kwale is located in Kenya.
A further check on the video showed that the earliest version was posted on TikTok on April 6, 2022 on TikTok and captioned, “Real Mermaid Caught in Muizenberg South Africa.”
Checks by our correspondent revealed that video was doctored. It is a digitally altered composite featuring genuine footage of a dying fish and digitally added images of what appears to be a doll.
A close examination of the footage showed that sand loses texture as the arms of the purported mermaid moved across the beach. At one point, the fingers even disappeared, indicating that the “mermaid’s body” was digitally inserted into this footage.
What are mermaids?
In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including Europe, Asia and Africa. Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drowning. In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same traditions), they can be benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans.
The male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry. Although traditions about and sighting of mermen are less common than those of mermaids, they are generally assumed to co-exist with their female counterparts. The male and the female collectively are sometimes referred to as “merfolk or merpeople.”
Are mermaids real?
In 2012, the television channel Animal Planet aired a show claiming to establish that mermaids are real. The programme was filmed to appear to be a documentary, complete with interviews with “scientists” (paid actors) and phone-camera footage. Though the show carried a very brief disclaimer that it was a work of fiction, many viewers took it as a proof of mermaids’ existence.
A month after the programme aired, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted a statement on its website denouncing the supposed existence of the half-human, half-fish beings. “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found,” the post read.
CONCLUSION: The video did not originate from Nigeria as claimed and did not show a mermaid. There is no compelling evidence that mermaids (popularly called Mami Water) are real. Their existence still remains a myth.
This fact check was done in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
But shortly after the news filtered in, another report emerged, claiming that the palace had debunked the news of his death.
Several platforms, including some mainstream media outlets (not Daily Trust), consequently reported the death of Alaafin as “rumoured” and “fake news,” relying on a statement issued by Bode Durojaiye, said to be the Media and Publicity Director of the monarch.
The statement read: “It has come to the notice of the Office of the Director of Media and Publicity to the Alaafin of Oyo about a fake report making the wave in the social media, by a disgruntled group of bloggers, about the imaginary death of His Imperial Majesty, IKu Baba Yeye, Oba (Dr.) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, the Alaafin of Oyo.
“Members of the public are hereby urged to disregard the unfounded report, as the Paramount Ruler is hale and hearty.
”Precisely on Monday and Tuesday this week, Oba Adeyemi, accompanied by some of his wives (Ayabas), children, aides and well wishers was at the Durbar Stadium, Oyo, for physical fitness exercises as usual.
”He has neither fallen sick nor rushed to the hospital for any serious ailment, hence he and his family remain agile and active .
“The general public should not entertain any fear at all, as IKu Baba Yeye is healthy, physically fit and mentally stable.
Old statement quoted
However, checks by Daily Trust revealed that the purported statement was issued in December 2021 when it was rumored that Alaafin had died.
Hence, the alleged statement making the rounds did not emanate from the palace on Saturday. It was an old press release issued about four months ago.
This fact check was done in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
A WhatsApp message shared in many groups claimed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is disbursing Covid-19 funds to Nigerians.
The message asked Nigerians to call a particular number to get N75,000 from the agency.
The WhatsApp message reads, “CONGRATULATIONS. DUE TO THE COVID19 YOU HAVE JUST WON N75,000 FROM NCDC. CALL MR EMMANUEL 0807352**** FOR CLAIMS NOW.”
Another message reads “Congratulations N80,000 have (sic) been approved by the federal government to you lucky Nigerian due to PANDEMIC. Drop your account number.”
Is the claim true?
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, federal state and local governments have been distributing palliatives to citizens to cushion the effect of the pandemic. To complement the efforts of the government, the private sector has also donated billions of naira under Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
One of those interventions by the federal government, according to Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, is MSME Survival Fund Scheme.
The funds were disbursed in five modes under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in July 2020.
They include: Payroll Support Scheme, Artisan and Transport Scheme, Formalization Support Scheme, General MSME Grants and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme.
She said the federal government had so far disbursed N56.8 billion and individuals were selected based on merit.
Similarly, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced a N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) in March 2020 as part of a stimulus package to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and businesses.
The TCF was to support households and micro, small, and medium enterprises affected by the pandemic.
However, there has not been anytime that the federal government through the NCDC shared cash prices to Nigerians.
On its Twitter handle, the NCDC has debunked the claim of distributing cash to Nigerians, describing it as “fake news”
The NCDC also urged Nigerians to disregard the message as it is aimed at defrauding innocent Nigerians.
Conclusion: Although the federal government has rolled out several Interventions to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the NCDC is not disbursing Covid-19 funds to Nigeria. Hence, the viral WhatsApp message is false.
Demands Feasible Plans from Political Candidates Ahead of 2023 Elections
As Nigeria marks its democracy day, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has opined on the need for free, fair and credible elections.
Insisting Nigerians deserves more after 23 years of democratic rule, the Centre urged Nigerians to support initiatives that unite the country and promote good governance.
Previously marked on May 29 being the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999, the Muhammadu Buhari government in 2018 had changed democracy day to June 12 in solidarity with MKO Abiola Day, usually celebrated in Lagos and some states to commemorate the democratic election of Abiola on June 12.
Coming at a time when the country is preparing for the 2023 general election, Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, in a press release issued on Sunday expressed concerns over the election, stressing that any attempt to disrupt peaceful election must be countered by Nigerians.
According to her, credible, free and fair election is as critical as democracy and as such politicians and all their supporters must prioritize the interest of the nation instead of fueling disunity as the country is already at a crossroad.
“We appreciate the efforts being made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) so far. No Nigerian must be disenfranchised. More than ever before, we want the vote of Nigerians to count.
Politicians must understand the plight of Nigerians and desist from any action that will lead to disunity,” Hassan said. Worried over the state of the nation as well as the economy, especially the growing debt profile and insecurity, Hassan said there was urgent need to revive the economy from total collapse and tackle the root causes of insecurity.
With the nation’s public debt standing at N41 trillion, unemployment rate hovering at over 33 per cent while inflation rose by 16.82 per cent year-on-year in April 2022 and exchange rate already standing at N603 to a naira at the black market, Hassan said there was need to reverse the gloomy state of the nation’s economy.
“The state of the country is getting worst by the day. The rate of insecurity is now worse than alarming level.
The devaluation of the naira and disparity between the naira and other major currencies is at the peak. We can’t continue like this, knowing very well that we are one of the fastest growing countries in the world in terms population.
“We therefore urge politicians to focus on issue based campaign and desist from disinformation or fake news. It is also important that politicians desist from using religion and ethnicity to further divide the country. The level of division we have seen is enough. It is time for us to unite,” Hassan said.
CDD stated that the seven years of Buhari government could have been better, especially when compared with the series of promises made before the government came to power.
The not-for-profit, think tank organization admitted that some gains have been recorded in the fight against corruption but added that a lot more could be done, especially in the areas of blocking leakages and involving the whole of society.
Hassan noted that unless the country win against corruption, the widening inequality, poverty, lack of development, unemployment, marginalization and insecurity may persist.
“We need to adopt a whole of society approach and block leakages. It not time for the president to go to bed. The next one year is very critical. In fighting corruption, we need a shift from sanction to long term approach that will focus on blocking leakages.
“This democracy day should remind the president and anybody vying into political office that Nigerians deserve a better country. I am afraid, the country will not move forward if we fail to deal with our challenges. It is now urgent than ever before,” Hassan said.
She equally asked Nigerians to do everything possible in supporting our country, adding that it shouldn’t be about citizen’s rights alone, as rights come with duties towards a better country.
A video showing people jubilating at the sight of huge ‘Ghana must-go’ bags has been circulating on social media with different captions, suggesting that the APC presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, induced delegates with money to emerge winner of the presidential primary.
The video has been shared on Twitter, Facebook, and even on WhatsApp status, creating an impression that the Ghana must-go bags are filled with cash Tinubu purportedly shared to delegates to curry their votes during the convention.
“APC Delegate Bola Ahmed Tanibu (sic) is ready for you,” is engraved on the clip.
One Chigozie Alex, who shared the video wrote, “Wondering why Tinubu won with landslide? This video says it all. Even the SE (South East delegates) didn’t vote for their own people same way PDP SE delegates chose Atiku because of money. In 2023, we don’t have the money to match APC & PDP but we have people on our side & we will vote our conscience.”
Daily Trust’s checks showed that the video was recorded when a host shared souvenirs in Ghana must-go bags at an event in Lagos to appreciate those who attended the party.
The video first surfaced on the internet last year when some blogs shared the video, stating that the bags contained a toaster, cartons of noodles, bottles of beverage and detergents.
In the clip, a visibly excited woman was also heard saying, “this thing (pointing at the bag) is for one person at Ajibola’s party o,” and singing elatedly.
Commenting on the post, one AbdulAzeez raised the alarm, noting that the video was misleading.
He said, “I wonder why we just subject ourselves to be misled, maybe it’s because of the hatred we have for someone or people, we just believe anything that’s said about them even when we see fact to the contrary. The woman was saying it in the video that this is shared at a party. Still some people choose to believe otherwise.”
Another comment said, “This video is misleading. You can hear clearly what the woman said ‘this is for one person at Ajibola’s party’ This video has been trending for more than a year now.”
Daily Trust can confirm that the video in circulation does not involve Tinubu sharing money to the delegates as the poster claimed. It was a video made when ecstatic guests received huge bags containing souvenirs at a party in Lagos.
This fact check is done in collaboration with the Center for Democracy and Development.
The use of amnesties for achieving peace and reconciliation in contexts of conflict is frequently controversial. For opponents, a central objection is that the application of amnesties is in conflict with human rights principles, which emphasise justice for the victims of conflict-based violence. By granting amnesty to perpetrators, opponents argue, victims are denied the opportunity for reparations and a fair trial. Nevertheless, amnesties are widely accepted as a flexible de-escalation tool capable of conflict resolution whilst simultaneously encouraging rehabilitation and reintegration.
Although Nigeria has no national Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme, amnesty initiatives initiated in Nigeria have been guided by the DDR framework. DDR is a global transitional justice framework that seeks to establish the basis for preserving and sustaining communities to which reformed perpetrators of violence return. This is integral for creating long-term peace, security, and development capability. The DDR framework is currently implemented in Nigeria and other conflict-stricken countries such as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, and Mali.
In Nigeria, the two major Federally sponsored amnesty programmes currently in operation are the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and the Operation Safe Corridor (OSC). Implemented by President Umaru Musa Yaradua in 2009, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) is Nigeria’s premier amnesty programme. The PAP consists of blanket immunity for crimes committed, as well as a monthly stipend of N65,000 and vocational training for militants, provided the combatants surrender their weapons and promise to cease fighting. Aside from the federally sponsored Amnesty programmes, there are several state-funded and informal amnesty programmes implemented across the country. For instance, in the Niger Delta region, there is an informal exchange of pipe surveillance contracts from government and private entities to disgruntled youth in the area in exchange for a cessation of pipeline-related criminal activity. This arrangement acts as a quasi-cash-for-peace model, which is already in existence under the PAP.
As with PAP, Operation Safe Corridor is primarily geared towards the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of ex-combatants. However, OSC focuses specifically on low-level Boko Haram members, emphasising the ideological rehabilitation of ex-combatants as opposed to the more simplistic cash-for-peace model used in the Niger Delta Peace Deal.
The difference between these two policies highlights a key challenge with amnesty efforts in Nigeria: the lack of a national judicial framework for implementing amnesties has led to inconsistency and poor implementation. While a one size fits all approach would be too broad to address the factors affecting both sets of conflict, there are several commonalities which they both share that can be addressed through the implementation of a national framework. For instance, the marginalisation of groups, perceptions of socio-economic exclusion, and institutional repression. have pushed dissatisfied individuals into collective violence and as result, enabled the recruitment of dissatisfied individuals into terrorist organisations. Hence the common grievances shared across the various regions in Nigeria often means that irrespective of the underlying ideological or political motivations of terror groups as a collective, the individuals within those groups are often participating due to perceived socioeconomic grievances.
As both the Presidential Amnesty Programme and Operation Safe Corridor are amnesty programmes, they do not address the key underlying issues which caused the conflict. Currently, in its eleventh year, the PAP programme continues to empower the ex-combatants rather than solve the core conflict-triggering socio-economic problems blighting the region Similarly, OSC has failed to address the underlying issues fuelling conflict in the North-East. Ranging from the neglect of women and children to the low literacy rates and access to basic social amenities. There has been a singular focus on the ideological reformation of ex-combatants in the region through the implementation of a 12-week deradicalization programme. Whilst successful in its own right, this approach does not tackle the poor socio-economic standards, which has acted as an accelerant in the rate of recruitment by Boko Haram. Numerous surveys have been conducted in the region that point to a definite link between hunger, poverty, and young Nigerians’ susceptibility to radical extremism.
The focus on amnesty by the government as a peacebuilding mechanism whilst useful should also be accompanied with socio-economic programs which would help assuage the grievances which so many Nigerians hold. By elevating people out of poverty and vulnerable social conditions, it also stems the flow of recruitment into terror groups such as Boko Haram, reducing the need for controversial amnesty programmes in the first place.
Worth noting is that the imbalance between the evident economic empowerment of ex-combatants in the Niger Delta and the slow but more holistic reintegration of ex-Boko Haram members could lead to accusations of unequal and preferential treatment. However, such an accusation is fraught with many potential consequences given Nigeria’s unstable ethnoreligious alliance. This is compounded by the fact that the Niger Delta amnesty programme offered blanket amnesty for all combatants irrespective of rank. In contrast, OSC has only offered amnesty to low-level Boko Haram members.
The inconsistency in the application of amnesties has also set an uncertain precedent for the application of amnesties in emerging and future conflicts in Nigeria. Thus, for example, the argument by Sheik Ahmad Gumi for applying a blanket amnesty to all members of North-western bandit groups is given further credence by the application of a blanket amnesty to Niger Delta’s militants.
Linked to this is the perception that amnesty programmes in Nigeria prioritise the welfare of perpetrators over that of victims. This criticism presents an opportunity for improved synergy between amnesty and transitional justice initiatives in Nigeria. Amnesties, particularly their ambition of reintegrating former combatants, can be better improved if victims of violent conflict are afforded the same level of state-sponsored rehabilitation as has been historically afforded to the perpetrators. That said, it might prove a difficult feat to achieve in inter-communal conflicts such as the Farmer-Herder conflict due to the thin line between perpetrator and victim in such instances — since victims have often resorted to retributive violence to protect themselves due to the lack of intervention from the state level and federal governments. Indeed, some of the root causes for the exponential increase in banditry and vigilantism in the region can be attributed to local communities taking law and order into their own hands, a situation that further fuels instability in an already volatile region.
As the debate around the role of amnesties in the de-escalation of Nigeria’s nationwide Farmer-Herder conflict continues to unfold, this commentary sees an opportunity for a review of the workings and failings of Nigeria’s amnesty programmes. While amnesty and peace deals have already been applied to the crisis of banditry in the North-Western region of Nigeria (see, for instance, the Kaduna and Zamfara peace deals), they have followed the same template of handing out cash in exchange for the relinquishing of weapons. The Farmer-Herders conflict presents an opportunity to collaboratively tackle key governance issues in the area. Considering the scale and impact the conflict has had on both sides, it is imperative that state governments in the Northwest commit to fostering sustainable reconciliatory efforts, including but not limited to DDR initiatives.
Equally pertinent to the application of amnesties would be the active involvement of local and community-based associations in peacebuilding efforts aiming to smoothen the reintegration component of Nigeria’s amnesty efforts. This, in tandem with an analysis of more established amnesty frameworks from around the globe, could help establish a consistent application of amnesties to Nigeria’s conflictual regions. More importantly, it would ultimately eliminate some of the inconsistencies and inequities surrounding amnesty in Nigeria. This commentary has sought to present an analysis of Nigeria’s ongoing amnesty programmes to highlight the challenges bedevilling these policies and identify opportunities for their improvement. Recognising their capacity to aid rather than hinder accountability and peacebuilding efforts in Nigeria, the analysis has ultimately served to point out the potential that exists to enhance the legitimacy and success of amnesty programmes.
That the presidential election which took place in the Republic of Congo on 21 March 2021 would re-elect Denis Sassou Nguesso was a given. Less certain was whether access to the internet, in particular access to social media, would be interrupted on election day, and in the days that followed as it was in 2016. In the end it was. For three days – as voting, counting and the results were announced – the internet remained switched off.
In 2020, several African countries including Burundi, Togo, Guinea and Tanzania cut off internet access during elections. The blocking of social media by the government is often justified on the grounds of “protecting national security”, or more recently, to “fight against the spread of fake news and hate speech”. In its recent decision to suspend and ban Twitter in Nigeria, the government justified its actions by stating that the platform was enabling “misinformation and fake news to spread… [with] real world violent consequences”.
But these sorts of justifications should not deceive anyone. Governments that block access to the internet or social media are in fact seeking to better control the flow of information online. But this choice to censor is counterproductive. Not only are the economic implications important – according to the latest estimates available, internet shutdowns have cost the continent more than US$2 billion – but as, if not more, importantly internet shutdowns disrupt democratic participation and processes.
The authorities and their enablers
The process that enables internet shutdowns is covered by a veil of opacity. Due to a lack of technical expertise, governments usually turn to internet service providers (ISPs) for help in disrupting telecommunications. But it is difficult to know precisely which authorities issue the order to shutdown or throttle the internet. Organisations fighting internet shutdowns must be resourceful to obtain this crucial information, which enables citizens to hold their government officials to account. In 2018, legal action brought by Internet Sans Frontières against mobile operators in Chad, obtained written proof of the order sent by the Ministry of the Interior to all ISPs.
Transparency from ISPs themselves can also help lift this veil of obscurity further. Under pressure from civil society initiatives, such as the Ranking Digital Rights project, many of these companies publish more specific information about the connectivity disruption orders they receive from governments. Orange issued a press released around the 2020 Guinean election to this effect for example. Understanding who orders and facilitates internet shutdowns is an important piece of the puzzle. But it is equally important to prevent the occurrence of these telecommunications outages in the first place.
According to the UN Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human Rights, cutting off access to the internet is a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression. This is even more so when this act of censorship takes place during an election period, a critically important moment in democratic life.
Faced with media landscapes under the strict control of autocratic governments, citizens of many African countries have found space for free expression online. For some, it is the first time that they can speak without filter on the governance of their country and question the government propaganda. The internet and use of smartphones are also key tools for opposition parties and civil society groups to collect and centralise information about anomalies observed during an electoral process.
The democratisation of online communication tools and access to bandwidth offers an increasingly formidable electoral transparency tool for civil society and citizens of African countries. Citizen electoral monitoring initiatives, have emerged in Cote d’Ivoire (2010), Togo (2013), Kenya (2017), and Guinea (2020), to give just a few examples. All have offered significant contributions to exposing the existence of fraud, which in turn have called into question the results claimed by the authorities. But blocking the internet or social networks during an election prevents them from being able to do so and degrades the credibility and sincerity of the vote. The #KeepItOn coalition, which was created to fight internet shutdowns, are campaigning for the inclusion of internet access in the assessment of elections by national and international observation missions.
Keeping it on
The internet challenges our existing social and governance structures to adapt or reinvent themselves. For some of them, the challenge seems insurmountable, and censorship becomes a refuge. But this refuge is only temporary. Governments that prefer to censor, for fear of a free flow of information online, would be better served by putting this energy into innovating in their relationships with citizens and voters. In the decades to come, and as more and more Africans come online, the internet must stay on.
Julie Owono is the executive director of Internet Sans Frontières and a member of the Facebook Oversight Board.
Can Nigeria’s #EndSARS protests evolve into a force that can restructure electoral politics? Or will the protests, which culminated with the state opening fire on its own citizens in Lagos, simply become a dramatic, but ineffective interlude, to the status quo?
If recent electoral contests held in Lagos, Imo, Bayelsa, Plateau and Abia are an indicator, the civic awakening that seemed apparent at the height of the demonstrations in October 2020, has thus far failed to spill over into the electoral realm. Voter apathy, which typifies Nigerian elections, has been a notable feature of these polls. But as the 2023 elections draw closer amid a gloomy political and economic outlook, Nigeria’s young voters and activists are yet again being pushed to consider their role in politics while trying to navigate the relative power of protest and electoral politics as modes of civic participation.
Activists and organisers who participated in the #EndSARS protests must decide between redoubling their efforts or stepping back from all contentious political activity; whether, and how, to change tactics; what issues they should focus on; or if abstaining completely from electoral politics would be the most powerful statement. These questions are particularly pressing for Nigeria’s so-called “s’oro s’oke generation” or what I like to call the “70 Percent Club” – the cohort of Nigerians believed to be 30 years old or younger.
In a country as large and heterogeneous as Nigeria, these young people come from all walks of life and have different experiences, but they also share some important commonalities. They have no little to no memory of Nigeria under military rule, they increasingly reject the respectability politics that govern intergenerational social interactions, and they are very online. #EndSARS was undeniably their moment; their introduction to the world as a social force to be reckoned with.
#EndSARS as a struggle in the public square coincided with the takeover of the virtual one, much of it driven by this “70 Percent Club”. Even as the protests gathered steam in early October 2020, the overwhelming majority of Nigeria’s print and broadcast media – whose ownership structure is largely concentrated in the hands of political entrepreneurs with close links to government officials and the Nigerian state – gave little to no coverage to the protests. But in a country where 61% of the population has access to the internet, these attempts to stymie the protests proved to be a miscalculation. Young Nigerians do not rely on newspapers, television and the radio for news and information to the same degree their parents and grandparents do.
According to 2019 findings by NOI Polls, 70% of Nigerians aged 18-35 have access to the internet compared with 56% of those aged 36-60. Roughly 20% of the Nigerian population has a Twitter account, with young people again the more likely users. WhatsApp and Facebook have even more significant numbers of users. During the protests, social media users got the #EndSARS hashtag trending globally. The millions of unique impressions on Twitter and other platforms, gained the attention of international celebrities and the Nigerian diaspora. Online spaces and new media platforms like Pulse Nigeria, Zikoko and The Native quickly worked to fill the gaps left open by legacy media.
The digital prowess young Nigerians displayed during the #EndSARS protests played a huge role in its reach, fundraising, coordination and message discipline. They used online platforms to share information in real-time, coordinate activities with protesters across the country, fight misinformation and document important events such as attempts by hired thugs and pro-government forces to subvert the protests and the fatal shootings in Lekki on 20 October. Women were at the heart of this movement, with The Feminist Coalition playing a critical coordinating role, alongside SARS victims’ mothers’ groups, in demanding transparency and accountability for victims of police brutality.
The challenge now is how to institutionalise the vibrant online activism demonstrated during the #EndSARS protests into electoral politics and broader civic participation. The protests did a lot to dispel the myth of apathy among so-called “lazy Nigerian youths”, who have been forced to provide social goods and services for themselves amid a weak state incapable of meeting their basic needs. The immense strides the ICT and creative sectors have made in the last decade largely reflects the ingenuity and entrepreneurialism of the “70 Percent Club”. Far from being frivolous and lazy, young Nigerians have simply lost hope in institutions that do not serve their interests or reflect their preferences. Their low participation rates in electoral contests reflecting disenchantment with the ruling elites and the systems of governance they oversee.
But this disillusionment with the political system and the lack of trust in civic norms and institutions represents the best opportunity to reshape political participation in Nigeria. There is a need to shift Nigeria’s civic culture from one skewed overwhelmingly towards elections as the primary means of participation, and towards a system inclusive of mass civic activism designed to trigger long-term political development and social change. This effort must start with building the kinds of “mediating structures” Alexis de Tocqueville argued strengthened democracies by providing alternative loyalty bases and sources of information for citizens. These mutually reinforcing online and offline entities would serve as a bulwark against dominant political forces, and as intermediaries between citizens and the Nigerian state, who are socially distant from each other.
Learning from the past
A crucial mistake made after the collapse of military rule and return to civilian democracy in 1999 was the failure to connect institutional politics – understood narrowly as represented by political parties and elections – to the participatory ethos that energised the pro-democracy movement of the 1990s. Electoral politics returned to being the crown jewel of civic participation in Nigeria’s civilian democracy, with many democracy activists – some of them erstwhile politicians – running for and winning elected office, or getting appointed to government and party positions.
At the same time, civil society organisations (CSOs) arguably did not, and still do not, serve as intermediaries between citizens and state, acting more as entrenched, professional middle-class interests or even as an extension of the political class. Many CSOs rely on international donors for funding – when they are not covertly funded by political figures – and have come to prioritise access and closeness to government and foreign donors, raising questions among their critics about their ability to be effective intermediary institutions. The weakness of the rule of law and a culture of opacity in government, combined with the aforementioned tendencies, makes contemporary organised CSOs incapable of, and unsuited to, being a credible mouthpiece for young, socially-networked Nigerians.
Leaderless and decentralised
Historically, organised activism in Nigeria leaned towards centralised representation, usually in the form of professional organisations, trade associations and farmer, labour and student unions. The #EndSARS protests were structured differently, resembling the many “leaderless” movements that have emerged across the world in recent years. Although Lagos served as a sort of symbolic capital of the movement, the protests were decentralised away from any one geographic location or group and were truly national in scope. Nigerians in 21 of the 36 states participated in demonstrations, along with diaspora supporters in London, Johannesburg, Washington DC and elsewhere.
Time will tell whether this format of mass activism will become the norm in Nigeria, but its spontaneity, message discipline and organisational prowess caught the Nigerian establishment by surprise. This in part explains the violent crackdown that brought the protests to a halt, as well as the continued repression by state authorities against key organisers and ordinary protesters. Many demonstrators remain detained, with the whereabouts of more than a handful an open question. Others saw bank accounts frozen or had their passports seized.
Making engagement meaningful
Given the varied manifestations of poor governance across the country which the #EndSARS protests sought to challenge, it stands to reason that localised organising which reflects the reality of Nigerians in their immediate communities should drive the establishment of mediating structures. But if the broader trends which emerged during the protests are to have any significance during the 2023 elections, the demands of Nigerian political organising should not be directed solely at centres of power like the major cities and state capitals.
Although the #EndSARS movement drew on a cross-representation of Nigerians, the most dominant narratives and visible organisers emerged from Lagos, which served as the protests’ centre of gravity to a large extent. The emergent forums and collective platforms which formed during the protests demonstrate the necessity of broader inclusivity of Nigerians across different income groups, regions and communities. Mediating structures must be designed to broaden constituencies and bring in voices who may not be well-represented among Nigeria’s online population. The problems of governance in Nigeria might have similar dimensions across the board, but they manifest themselves differently everywhere and these mediating institutions ought to reflect these nuances. Solutions that might work in Abia might not be replicable in Zamfara, and vice versa.
With the myriad of challenges bedevilling Nigeria, efforts to resolve them cannot wait until 2023, and neither should Nigerians. While young people should be encouraged to register to vote and join political parties and other organs of institutional politics, these efforts should be coupled with a commitment to building long-term civic institutions that give youths a means of engaging political systems and actors beyond election day. More civic participation by youths will not guarantee better governance outcomes, but it does raise the odds of bridging the significant gap between those deciding policy and those who have to weather its effects. And that is a useful point of departure.
Chris Olaoluwa Ògúnmọ́dẹdé is a foreign policy analyst, writer, editor and political risk consultant specialising in comparative authoritarianism, regional integration in the West Africa region and transnationalism in African diasporic communities. He is also an editor at The Republic, a pan-African global affairs publication. Follow him on Twitter at @Illustrious_Cee.
Editor’s note: This is the seventh article in a nine-part series in which leading thinkers and practitioners explore key questions and themes about the current state of electoral democracy in Africa. You can click to read the sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second and first.