Fact-Checking Six Claims Made By Peter Obi At ‘The People’s Hall’


Adetutu Sobowale

The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi on 8th January, made some claims during ‘The People’s Hall 2023’ discussion hosted by Channels TV. The discussion themed, “Sustaining Our Shared Democracy” was held in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria.

The LP flag bearer, Obi, and his running mate Datti Baba-Ahmed featured on the program to share their plans with Nigerians ahead of the February 25 election.

During the discussion, the presidential hopeful spoke and answered questions on issues ranging from poverty, education, economy, energy, oil and gas, insecurity, and restructuring.

Claim 1: In 2015, Nigeria’s accumulative debt was 15 trillion and it is 75 trillion today(2023).

False! Nigeria’s accumulative debt in 2015 was $65.42 billion or N12.60 trillion and N44.06 in the third quarter of 2022.

Findings by FactCheckElections revealed that as of March 2015, Nigeria’s cumulative debt was $65.42 billion or N12.60 trillion. This is according to figures released by the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Further checks revealed that, as of September 2022, the total external debt was $39.66 billion million or N17.14 trillion while the total domestic debt stood at $62.25 billion or N26.91 trillion. The Grand Total at $101.91 billion or N44,06 trillion.

Also, a recent (2022) report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that Nigeria’s public debt stock which includes external and domestic debt stood at N44.06 trillion (US$101.91 billion) in Q3 2022 from N42.84 trillion (US$ 103.31 billion)
in Q2 2022.

As explained by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia(Dr) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Act, the Total Public Debt is projected at N77 trillion by May 2023.

However, Obi did not state whether the acclaimed cumulative debt was in Naira or Dollars.

Claim 2: Apart from Venezuela, Nigeria is the only OPEC nation not meeting its (production) quota.

False. None of the OPEC member countries met its oil production quota.

OPEC is the organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Nigeria as one of its 17 members. The OPEC member countries are Algeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Venezuela.

According to OPEC, Nigeria is expected to produce 1.8 million barrels per day (BPD) from November 2022 to December 2023.

However, data by OPEC showed that Nigeria failed to meet its oil production quota for November 2022.

Also, findings by FactCheckElections revealed not only Nigeria or Venezuela, but Algeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Angola, and Kuwait among others failed to meet the OPEC oil production quota for September to December 2022.

Claim 3: Singapore Port Authority was ranked the biggest port in the world in 2003 but declined in 2023.

The claim that Singapore was ranked the biggest port in the world in 2003 is False while the other claim that it declined in 2023 is True.

The Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) was formed on 1 April 1964 to take over the functions, assets, and liabilities of the Singapore Harbour Board.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the United States Department of Transportation table of the top 22 World Container ports shows that Singapore was the second world’s biggest port in 2003 while Hong Kong port in China topped the chart.

However, the Singapore port authority declined by 3- 4% in 2022 according to its annual port report which was released during the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) New year Conversations 2023 event.

Claim 4: Vietnam’s population is half of Nigeria

False. Vietnam’s population is less than half of Nigeria.

Vietnam, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast.

According to World Economics data, Vietnam’s population reached 99 million in 2022 and Nigeria’s population stood at 216.7 million.

Further findings confirmed Vietnam’s population to have reached 99 million in December 2022.

A comparison between the population of Vietnam and Nigeria showed that Vietnam’s population is less than half of Nigeria’s.

Claim 5: Nigeria Port Authority is the only port in the world that has offices outside its country of operation.

The claim about the overseas office is true, while the other could not be ascertained.

Checks on the website of the Nigerian Ports Authorities show that the agency has an “overseas liaison office” with the physical address stated as 2nd Floor, Allenby House, 1a Temple Rd Cricklewood, London.

However, FactCheckElections could not confirm if the agency has a guesthouse in the same city, or if it is the only port authority in the world to have an office outside national borders.

Claim 6: Nigeria has the highest number of people living in poverty.

False! India has the highest number of people living in poverty.

According to the World Poverty Clock, an online tool that monitors the progress against poverty globally and regionally and provides real-time poverty data across countries, India surpassed Nigeria as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people.

The data which was released in March 2022, states that about 83 million Indians have been plunged into extreme poverty in 2022, representing 6 percent of the country’s population which stands at 1.3 billion.

While for Nigeria, 70 million people are living in extreme poverty, representing 33 percent of Nigeria’s over 200 million people.

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