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Verdict: FALSE

CLAIM:

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.”  

Verification Process:

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.

Inflation

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).

Debt

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.

Fuel prices

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.

Exchange rate

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.

Unemployment

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.

Conclusion:

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.

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