FACT CHECK: Is Syria Safer than Nigeria as Peter Obi Claimed?

Former Anambra State governor and presidential aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Peter Obi, while speaking recently to the leadership of the party in Okigwe, Imo State, lamented the rising insecurity in Nigeria, saying the security situation of the country is worse than that of Syria.

Like Nigeria, Syria had been under terrorist attacks perpetrated by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in recent years.

Obi said the cause of the insecurity in Nigeria was due to failure of governance under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He also noted that the problems of Nigeria were becoming worse because the APC government was running an economy based on sharing formula and not a production-based economy.

Obi stated, “You wake up every morning in Nigeria you hear killings things that happen in Afghanistan, Pakistan. Even though Syria is now better than Nigeria, it is going to get worse. Tell them I said so with the way things are going because we have a failed government.”

Verifying ex-governor’s claim

Citing the latest Global Terrorism Index report of 2020, Nigeria was ranked third most terrorised country in the world while Syria was fourth.

The report also showed that Nigeria was only safer than Afghanistan and Iraq who are the first and second most affected countries in terms of impact of terrorism respectively.

According to the report, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram in the country increased by 25 per cent from 2018 to 2019.

Worthy of note in the report is the fact  that for the sixth consecutive time since 2015, Nigeria ranked as the third country with the worst impact from terrorism, globally.

Similarly, Syria, Somalia and Yemen were ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

GTI said despite the rise in the number of casualties from Boko Haram attacks in the North-East, Nigeria was the second to record a fall in violent deaths after Afghanistan in 2019.

Consequently, going by the ranking, Nigeria remains the most terrorised country in Africa with huge economic and financial loss.

Asides the activities of Boko Haram, bandits have also taken over parts of the North West, kidnapping for ransom, killing locals and also destroying properties of residents in the region.

A report by the Kaduna State Government, showed that bandits killed 1,192 persons and abducted 3,348 others across Kaduna State in 2021.

According to the report, among those killed were 1,038 men, 104 women and 50 minors.

The security situation report spread from January to December 2021 as presented by the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.

Similarly, a joint report by the Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities and the Joint Action Civil Society Committee under the aegis of Nigeria Mourns revealed that no fewer than 1,545 persons were killed by terrorists within the first quarter of 2022,

The report also disclosed that at least 1,321 persons were abducted by the terrorists between January 1 and March 30, 2022.

Outlining the attacks across the country, the group noted that earlier in the year, some terrorists in Kebbi State killed more than 65 persons in a single attack. The report stated that in Southern Kaduna, within the three months under review, over 100 deaths were recorded following repeated attacks on several communities in the area.

The daring bandits have resorted to attacking trains, the recent of which happened last month with about 100 people still missing.

Conclusion: The claim by Mr. Obi that Nigeria is worse than Syria in terms of impact of terrorism is true as verified from the Global Terrorism Index which measures the impact of terrorism on countries across the globe.

Also speaking on the economy, Obi said Nigeria had borrowed a lot of money and feared that the debt burden of the country may no longer be sustained in the nearest future.

“The only formula this government of APC has is how to share the money and not how to produce something. The first way to fight insecurity in the country is to create a means of livelihood.”

“We have borrowed over $100 billion and this country cannot generate power. When we look at this whole thing, We have come to change the economy from sharing economy to a production economy,” he had said.

Verification: Latest data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) revealed that Nigeria’s debt stock as of March 2022 stood at N39.56 trillion.

Checks by Daily Trust showed that using the official exchange rate by the Central Bank which is N416 to $1, N39.56 trillion which is Nigeria’s total debt stock will translate to about $93.8 billion as against the $100 billion claim made by Obi.

Nigeria’s total public debt rose by 20.2 per cent to N39.56 trillion ($95.77 billion) as of December 31, 2021, up from N32.92 trillion ($86.392 billion) in 2020, the Director-General of the DMO, Ms. Patience Oniha, had stated.

Conclusion: Converting $100 billion to naira using the current exchange rate gives about N41.6 trillion. This gives a difference of about N2 trillion. Thus, while Nigeria is neck-deep in humongous debt which may increase in the coming months, the “over $100bn” debt claim by the PDP presidential aspirant is inflated and inaccurate.

This fact check was done in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).