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Nigerians Living in Extreme Poverty Increases Under Present Administration

A fat-check website, dubawa.org has described as false, the claims of Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari that his administration has lifted five million people out of extreme poverty. Rather,the website claims that an approximate 100,917,042 million are living in extreme poverty, an increase of 10 million or 13.01 per cent above the figure of 83,171,151 million, four years after Buhari came to office.

At the opening of the Global Youth Employment Forum of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Abuja on Thursday, August 1st, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), has in three years, lifted no fewer than 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.

Represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Buhari commended the ILO for committing itself to youth employment. He noted that the Federal Government had an in-depth understanding of the rapidly changing demographics and the emerging world of work.

In his words, the president said:

The present administration from the onset, made the investment in our people one of the key goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which is the national development blueprint from the period of 2017 to 2020.

“The implementation of the plan also has the flagship programme such as the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP). It has yielded some measurable outcomes in the form of increased school enrolment and the creation of more jobs.

“One of the key components of the NSIP is the N-Power programme and its subcomponents has led to the creation of job opportunities in different sectors of the economy for young persons.

“For example, in the past three years, the programme has yielded over 2 million direct and indirect employment opportunities and has lifted over 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.”

However, in a research conducted by one of the leading fat-check researchers in Nigeria, Akintunde Babatunde, Program Officer with the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism, it was found that the assertion of the President Buhari is not only false, but that extreme poverty of Nigerians in his tenure has increased.

Find below the details:

Verification of Claims:

Before commencing verification, here’s a bit of information:

The federal government’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), established in 2016, remains a major programme for this administration and a source of success stories for different government officials who have been making claims about its impacts. Unfortunately, these claims are difficult to verify as there is no credible database that houses full details of the activities of this programme.

NSIP constitutes four projects: Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), and N-Power.

In the past, Dubawa has made efforts to ascertain the correctness of some of these claims – in a freedom of Information reply to PTCIJ by the National Social Investment Office, the Office refused to provide details on the actual number of beneficiaries of these programmes with an explanation that the FOI Act prohibits the sharing of personal information of the specified individuals who are currently receiving financial and social grants from public institutions without their consent.

The Office specifically noted that the National Cash Transfer Programme (a project of NSIP) is well known to the Community Trained Facilitators of the scheme who visit the conditional cash transfer beneficiaries every week to support them with financial skills, (savings) group, basic numeration etc. As such, no further information can be provided to us!

Nonetheless, we obtained this information from the Office – the entire amount appropriated to the NSIP has been N500 billion annually (commencing 2016) for 3 years (making a total of N1.5 trillion) but total releases so far (as at October 2018) amounted to about N307 billion, representing 23.63% of the appropriated sum.

CLAIM 1: One of the key components of the NSIP is the N-Power programme and its subcomponents has led to the creation of job opportunities in different sectors of the economy for young persons. For example, in the past three years, the programme has yielded over 2 million direct and indirect employment opportunities

VERDICT: MISLEADING, there is no publicly available evidence to support the claim; at the same time, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is steadily on the rise.

The claim that this programme has led to the creation of over 2 million jobs seems to emanate only from the mouths of government officials, without any physical evidence to that effect. For one, there’s no solid database available to the public to show the direct jobs and possible indirect jobs. While there exists an NSIP website and an NPower website, the sites only provide general information on the programmes and dole out numbers without any information on how those numbers were obtained.

The president also wasn’t clear about the actual component(s) of the NSIP that has created up to 2 million jobs, even though there has been different figures on the subject matter by officials of this same government. For instance, in march 2019, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, said on the Home School Feeding Programme, that there are 103,992 cooks on the government’s payroll, feeding 9,714,342 pupils in 53,715 government primary schools around 31 States, while all the remaining States are at various stages of meeting the criteria.

She (Mrs Uwais) also made a vague comment – that the agricultural value chain has been increasing by the day, with sustainable income for smallholder farmers, especially those residing around public schools.

Mrs Uwais then said at the end of March, that the NSIPs have made direct impacts on 12,069,153 beneficiaries, and over 30 million secondary beneficiaries, comprising the cooks, farmers, families, employees and members of the community. And that a total of N470.8 billion was released between 2016 and 2018 for the four-broad programmes under the social investment programmes across the country.

The NSIP website shows a total of 14,0007,584 beneficiaries which includes the pupils (who cannot be classified as employed Nigerians), cooks, farmers, etc. However, there’s no mention of how many direct or indirect jobs have been created in Nigeria through the NSIP.

For Npower, information available on the website of the scheme states that only 200,000 Nigerians have been enrolled so far and news report has it that another 300,000 youths have been engaged so far on the programme. This makes it 500,000 jobs engaged even though the figure on the NSIP’s website has the number of Npower’s beneficiaries to be 526,000.

What’s more, the Npower beneficiaries are mostly teachers and skilled workers, and so it is very unlikely that such jobs will more than triple to 2 million indirect employment!

Interestingly, Nigeria’s unemployment rate has been on the increase from 18.8 percent in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) [Unemployment statistics for Nigeria ends at Q3 2018, pending updates from NBS].

Due to the available data from Npower’s platform and the website, the claim by the presidency that the NSIPs has yielded over 2 million direct and indirect employment opportunities is MISLEADING as not only is the claim not supported by any publicly available evidence, there is also rising unemployment in the country.

CLAIM 2: FG has lifted over 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty

VERDICT: FALSE, data from the World Poverty Clock (a very credible source we must add) shows that the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty has been on the rise with over 10 million more poor people in the country.

To verify this claim, information from the World Bank’s World Poverty Clock, United Nations (UN) and the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) were essentially used to fact check it.

World Poverty Clock is a tool to monitor progress against poverty, both globally and regionally. Created by the Vienna-based non-governmental organization, World Data Lab, it uses effective models to estimate poverty in different countries, covering 99.7% of the world’s population.


Poverty is a relative term which is defined by a certain threshold that differs across countries and institutions. The United Nations standard for explaining extreme poverty refers to the possession of less than US $1 a day, while the World Bank regards extreme poverty as living on less than US $1.90 a day. People living in extreme poverty are unable to meet their minimal needs for survival.

The World Poverty Clock uses the World Bank definition of extreme poverty which means to live below US $1.90 per day.

According to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria’s population is rising by 5.7 people per minute while the rest of Africa is reducing by 4.7 people per minute. As such, Nigeria is listed among 17 countries where extreme poverty is rising. The other 16 countries listed in the research by World Poverty Clock are Congo, Angola, Gambia, Burundi, Belize, Zambia, Chad, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, South Sudan, Somalia and Suriname.

In a fact-check we did last year, we showed that Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world!

If in August 2019, the presidency claimed that the Federal Government has lifted 5 million Nigerians out of poverty in three years, it will mean we have to compare the level of extreme poverty between August 2017 and August 2019.

To this end, we decided to depend on the World Poverty Clock for the purposes of this verification.

At the time of this research, August 2019, the World Poverty Clock states that approximately 94 million Nigerians (about 94,084,293 people) which represent 47.7% of Nigeria’s population of 197,267,642 people are living in extreme poverty.

According to the same database, as at August 2018, approximately 92 million Nigerians (about 91,566,337 people) which represent 47.5% of Nigeria’s population of 192,586,981 people were living in extreme poverty.

Data from the same platform has it that a total of 88,861,580 Nigerians out of a population of 188,036,345 million Nigerians were living in extreme poverty as at August 2017.

As at August 2016 (exactly four years ago), approximately 83 million Nigerians (about 83,678,535 people) which represented 45.5% of Nigeria’s population of 188,977,011 people were living in extreme poverty.

Between August 2016 and August 2019, the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty has increased from 83,171,151 million to 100,917,042 million (by over 10 million) – an increase of over 13.1%.

With the data from the World Poverty Clock (a very credible source we must add), it is clear that the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty has been on the rise with over 10 million more poor people in the country. Therefore, the claim by the presidency that the Federal government has lifted 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty is totally FALSE.



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