Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State and vice-presidential candidate of Nigeria’s opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party in 2019 general elections, believes so.
Obi said on Arise TV on February 2, that “the poverty issue, which IMF have (sic)…IMF has not added the ones that are going to be thrown in due to the pandemic situation. If you add it, it is going to be over 100 million. That’s about 50% of your population is now living under poverty.
“We are in a situation where Nigeria now have (sic) more people living under poverty than China and India combined. These two countries…their population is 2.8 billion.”
Later on during the interview, Obi clarified what he meant to live in poverty: “For those living in poverty, they are those people living under $1.90 cents. That means we are talking about people earning N800 a day,” he said 7:23 seconds into the interview as published on YouTube.
Obi’s explanation is the same yardstick used to determine persons living in extreme poverty, according by the World Poverty Clock.
However, the statistics published by the World Poverty Clock, the same organisation, whose figures foisted on Nigeria the description of poverty capital of the world in 2018, shows that India alone now has more people living in extreme poverty than Nigeria.
As of February 2, when Obi made his claim, India had 103,137,054 people living below $1.90 threshold per day. The number of people living below that threshold in Nigeria was 90,968,877.
World Poverty Clock also indicated on its website that its latest figures were arrived at after taking into consideration the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, the World Bank, in its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report: Reversals of Fortune released on October 7, 2020, panned India’s inability to publish its latest data on poverty. “The lack of recent data for India severely hinders the ability to monitor global poverty,” the report said.
Although, World Poverty Clock does not have specific statistics on the poverty level on China, its country card for China shows that less than 3% of the country’s population live in extreme poverty.
But the Chinese government announced last November that it had eliminated extreme poverty in the country one month ahead of its target. The country had set the goal of eliminating extreme poverty by the end of 2020.
Reuters reported that the national standard of extreme poverty China sets for itself is based on a per capita income threshold of 4,000 yuan (about N236,000) per year, or around $1.52 per day, and other factors such as access to basic healthcare and education.
Obi’s claim is untrue. Nigeria does not currently have more people living in poverty than China and India combined. In fact, Nigeria’s poverty level has reduced by almost 10% in the last three months when it overtook India in the World Poverty Clock ranking.
Nigeria’s current poverty level of 90,968,877 was an improvement from November 2020 when it had 105 million people living in extreme poverty.
Peter Obi’s claim, however, only aligned with an old statistic when Nigeria had more people living in extreme poverty than China and India combined in 2019, according to the World Poverty Clock.