Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works, and housing, has made numerous claims on the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC), its public debt and unemployment figures.
Fashola, who said the promises made by the ruling APC were aspirational, also went on to make some controversial claims, which were greeted by public concern, and doubt.
TheCable took some time to verify Fashola’s claims, and here is a summary of our verdict, based on available facts and figures.
CLAIM: We are generating, transmitting and distributing more power than what we met
VERDICT: There have been conflicting figures about the generation and distribution capacity of the country. In August 2018, Fashola had said power generation capacity had risen to 7000MW. However, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) said there was already a generation capacity of 6,421MW as at January 2015.
The 2018 Q1 and Q2 quarterly report released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) showed that the highest generation in those periods were 5,047MW and 5,162MW respectively.
CLAIM: 30% of our (APC government) budget is committed to infrastructure
VERDICT: Largely false. The only instance where 30% of the four budgets that has been presented by President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to capital expenditure was in 2018.
Capital spending in 2016 was 26% of the budget (N1.58 trillion of N6.06 trillion), 2017 budget was at 29.1%(N2.17 trillion out of N7.44 trillion). In 2018, capital spending was 31.4% of the budget (2.87 trillion of 9.12 trillion) and 23.1% of the 2019 budget has been budgeted for the same purpose (N2.021 trillion of N8.73 trillion).
The record 2018 budget of N9.12 trillion comes to $29.8 billion at the N305/$ budget benchmark.
CLAIM: Kebbi state is getting virtually 24 hours power
VERDICT: True. Atiku Bagudu, governor of Kebbi state, achieved this by improving distribution facilities and tapping into the electricity supplied to the Benin Republic from Nigeria. The state is said to suffer an average of five minutes of power outage.
CLAIM: We were importing almost $1billion worth of fish, we were exporting jobs
VERDICT: Partially true. The point being made by the minister remains valid, but figures employed were not accurate. As of 2013, Nigeria’s fish import bill was $1.2 billion according to data made available by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
CLAIM: When Nigeria was earning over $100 per barrel of oil, our budget was N4trn. At the time prices dropped to $50 and sometimes less, we budgeted N6trillion, N8 trillion. Who is doing more with less?
VERDICT: Partly true. Although the figures provided by the minister are true in naira terms, the figures are different in dollar terms.
The budget figures for 2014 when crude oil price was above $100 per barrel was N4.962 trillion ($31 billion at the N160/$ budget benchmark), lesser than 2016 when the budget benchmark for oil was $38, the budget figure was N6.06 trillion ($30 billion at the N197/$ budget benchmark).
The record N9.12 trillion 2018 budget was $29.9 billion at the N305/$ budget benchmark.
CLAIM: America is the biggest debtor nation in the world. We love America and hate debt. You want infrastructure but don’t want taxes.
VERDICT: True. According to the World Economic Forum, the US alone has 31.8% of the global debt. It owes $20 trillion and has a debt to GDP of 107.1%.
CLAIM: NBS released our unemployment figures. NBS never released a number of people who lost their jobs, and they are two different things.
VERDICT: False. Although the Q4-Q3 unemployment report released by the National Bureau of Statistics said: “rise in the unemployment rate is not entirely equivalent to an increase in job losses”.
“Rather an increase in unemployment can occur as a result of several reasons, of which loss of an existing job is just one. A rise in unemployment generally means the number of people searching for jobs has increased.”
The report, however, said “On the other hand, 0.9million of the 9.7 million that were unemployed and doing nothing at all reported they were unemployed and did nothing at all because they were previously employed but lost their jobs at some point in the past which is why they were unemployed.”
CLAIM: Total employment numbers have increased from 7.9m in Q1 2015 to 70.6m in Q1 2018.
VERDICT: False. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total number of people employed in the first quarter of 2015 was 67.9 million and the number of people employed by the first quarter of 2018 was 68.95 million.
CLAIM: We were spending $1billion on rice imports, now we spend $18.5m a year.
VERDICT: Not supported by data. There is no evidence to support the claim that Nigeria is not spending $18.5 million a year on rice importation. In 2017, Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, said the country was spending $5 million a day on rice imports.
CLAIM: Buhari’s government acquired $63bn debt and has borrowed just $10bn
VERDICT: True. Although Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made these same claims in October 2018, an analysis by BudgIT showed that the Buhari administration has actually borrowed $22 billion in three years but the debt figure increased by $10 billion because of naira devaluation.
In our observation, this administration (FG alone) borrowed $22bn in three years but due to naira devaluation GAINS, total public debt stock (for the entire Federation) increased by $10bn, which makes current claims TRUE. #AskQuestions
— BudgIT Nigeria (@BudgITng) October 30, 2018
With assistance from Mayowa Tijani