Nigeria: Buhari Campaign Gets Its Numbers Wrong About 'Record' Nigeria Agricultural Exports

President Muhammadu Buhari.

One of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s key promises in his bid for re-election in 2019 is to create more jobs in agriculture .

A top official in Buhari’s campaign recently claimed on TV that this policy was bearing rich fruit, making agriculture “one of Nigeria’s best-ever earners” of foreign exchange.

Media director Festus Keyamo was debating Segun Sowunmi, a spokesperson for Atiku Abubakar, Buhari’s perceived chief rival and Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 to 2007.

“In the first quarter of 2018, we earned N577 billion (US$1.89 billion) – the first ever in history – from agricultural produce,” Keyamo said on Channels TV in October 2018.

Does Keyamo’s claim about agricultural exports agree with the official data?

Breaking down the money earned from exports  

Africa Check has repeatedly tried to contact Keyamo to ask him to clarify his statement and share his data, but he’s yet to respond. We will update this report should he do so.

Nigeria’s official trade data is released every three months by the National Bureau of Statistics .

The bureau’s foreign trade statistics for the first quarter of 2018 showed Nigeria earned N4.69 trillion ($15.3 billion) from all exports from January to March. (Note: The Central Bank of Nigeria’s official exchange rate is N306 to the US dollar .)

This was made up of:

  • Crude oil exports: N3.6 trillion or three quarters of the total (76.3%)
  • Other oil products such as liquefied natural gas and bitumen: N535.8 billion (11.4%)
  • Manufactured goods: N434.37 billion (9.3%)
  • Other goods (agricultural goods, solid minerals, raw materials, energy goods): N143.3 billion (3.1%)

Keyamo’s figure correct only for all non-oil exports

Nigeria earned N73.24 billion ($239.3 million) from agricultural exports in the first quarter of 2018.

Keyamo would only be correct if he were referring to all non-oil exports in this period, which totalled N577.6 billion (US$1.89 billion) – his exact claim.

Non-oil exports include manufactured goods, as well as agricultural products, solid minerals, raw materials  and energy goods like hardwood, charcoal and coniferous wood.

Unemployment would have fallen

Nigeria’s current growth in agriculture was not as strong as it was before the country’s oil boom , according to Dr Victor Oriavwote, a lecturer in the department of social sciences, economics and development studies at the Federal University Otuoke .

“If we are producing and exporting more today, why is agriculture not contributing more to our GDP and foreign exchange earnings? I don’t agree that Nigeria’s agric production and export has improved significantly,” he told Africa Check.

“If that was the case, unemployment figures would have reduced.” Unemployment was at 18.8% in the third quarter of 2017, from 8.2% in the third quarter of 2017.

About 37.4 million of Nigeria’s labour force of 85 million are employed in the agriculture sector.

He said that while Nigeria had good farmland, the right climate and enough labour, official policies had not strengthened the “the real farmer in rural areas”.

Conclusion: Nigeria earned N73bn, not N577bn, from agricultural goods in Q1 2018

Boosting agriculture to create jobs is a key policy for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in the run-up to the 2019 elections. Festus Keyamo, the media director of his re-election campaign, claimed that the country earned N577 billion from agricultural exports from January to March 2018.

But agricultural products only brought in N73.24 billion in this period, official data shows. Keyamo’s figure is the same as the N577.6 billion earned by all non-oil exports in the first quarter.

We therefore rate his claim as incorrect.

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