Nigeria: Is Nigerian presidential candidate Peter Obi right about poverty levels, unemployment and the number of out-of-school children in the country?

About 100 million Nigerians live in poverty, Peter Obi, a Nigerian national newspaper, reported. Obi is the Labour Partycandidate for the 2023 presidential election. The Nation said Obi was responding to Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, candidate for the Nigerian New People’s Party (NNPP), who reportedly said he would not be Obi’s running mate.

In an interview on Arise TV on July 6, 2022, Obi said, “Older brother Kwankwaso’s comment is why we have 100 million Nigerians living in poverty, 18 million Nigerian children out of school and about 52% Nigerians either unemployed or underemployed.”

“It is because rather than voting for competent leaders, we are voting for incompetence due to a primal consideration of religion and ethnicity,” Obi added.

Other publications also reported on his claims.

There have been talks in the country about uniting the Labor Party and the NNPP as a “third force” to compete with the main parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition People’s Democratic Party.

But are 100 million Nigerians living in poverty? Are 18 million children out of school? And are more than half of Nigerians employed or underemployed?

To claim

100 million Nigerians live in poverty.



In 2018, the Austria-based World Data Lab project sparked the now widely repeated claim that Nigeria is the “poverty capital of the world”.

Nigeria overtook India as the country with the highest number of extremely poor people in early 2018, project researchers said, based on their World Poverty Clock data tool.

“At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had around 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared to 73 million in India,” said the World Data Lab.

In June 2022, the clock estimated that 83.1 million Indians lived in extreme poverty, compared to 83 million Nigerians.

The World Bank measures extreme poverty as the number of people living on less than US$1.90 a day.

Data from the widely used poverty tracking tool does not support Obi’s claim.

Are there other data?

In May 2020, the Nigeria Living Standards Survey estimated that 82.9 million people were living in poverty. But the survey, conducted by the country’s data office, did not use the World Bank’s $1.90 poverty line.

The National Bureau of Statistics said it set the national poverty line at 137,430 naira per year or 376.5 naira per day. Back then, that translated to $353 per year or $0.97 per day.

Based on the exchange rate in July 2022, this went from $353 per year to $332 per year, or $0.91 per day.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics still does not confirm Obi’s claim.

To claim

18 million Nigerian children are out of school.


Not proven

The Institute for Statistics (UIS), the official data agency of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, provides internationally comparable data on education.

The UIS defines out-of-school children as the number of children and young people in the official age group, for the given level of education, who are not enrolled in pre-primary, primary, secondary or superior.

Prior to 2014, the agency had 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria. In 2014, it revised the figure to 8.6 million, based on new demographic data.

In 2019, she reviewed her methods. But 18 million remains the most recent figure in his database. We have contacted the UIS for further details and will update this report with their response.

What does the other data show?

The 2018 National Staff Audit Report of the Commission for Universal Basic Education showed that 10.1 million Nigerian children were out of school.

The commission was set up by the federal government to provide better access to education in Nigeria.

In January 2022, Peter Hawkins, a representative of Unicef, the UN agency that focuses on the welfare of children, said that the 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria were the highest number highest in the world.

Four months later, however, the head of the UNICEF office in Kano, northern Nigeria, Rahama Farah, was widely reported as saying the figure had risen sharply to 18.5 million children.

Farah told reporters that 60% of those children were girls. Attacks on schools by Islamic jihadists and bandits in the north were a factor in the increase, he said.

We asked Unicef ​​for details on how they calculated this figure. We will update this report with their response. In the meantime, due to the widely differing estimates, we can only label this claim as unproven.

To claim

About 52% of Nigerians [are] either unemployed or underemployed.


Fairly ok

The most recent official data shows that the national unemployment rate was 33.3% in the last three months of 2020. In absolute terms, this is 23.18 million people.

The National Bureau of Statistics defined the unemployed as people between the ages of 16 and 64 who were available for work and were actively looking for work, but could not find it.

Labor force data was collected from 33,300 households in the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The data shows that a further 22.8% of Nigeria’s labor force – or 15.9 million people – were underemployed.

Underemployed people work at least 20 hours per week on average, but less than 40 hours per week, or are engaged in an activity that underutilizes their skills, time and qualifications.

This means that 56.1% of Nigeria’s labor force was either unemployed or underemployed. Obi’s estimate is therefore largely on the money.

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