On President Jonathan’s Achievements: Cross-checking the Facts

The exchanges on social media and the general web between supporters of, and those who oppose president  Goodluck Jonathan never cease to amaze, engage and entertain. Most recently, President Jonathan’s special assistant on new media came out in fierce defence of the president against various criticisms.  In a litany of the president’s achievements, Mr. Omokri’s cited “facts with web-based evidence”  in the form of links to World Bank data relating to several economic, health and social indicators.

How well do the “facts” stack up?

Disclosure: I am not a politician. I am not a member of, and owe no allegiance to any political parties, persons or political interests.

Mr. Omokri wrote:

…..Here are the facts with web-based evidence so that my readers may trust what I write but verify for themselves:

1. Mr. Omokri: Under President Jonathan Nigeria’s Economy Has Grown To Become The Largest Economy in Africa. Link: tinyurl.com/pbbld8r

Cross-check: For more than two decades, Nigeria has been estimating its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) using data collected in 1990. Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  was rebased and revised upwards by about 50% in 2013,using more recent data, following which Nigeria’s revised GDP was estimated at $405 billion, above South Africa’s $370 billion.

Now, I am not too sure as to how this is an achievement of President Jonathan, so according him the credit appears a little bit disingenuous. The fact of Nigeria’s economy becoming the largest in Africa, was not based on the singular efforts of any of Nigeria’s present or past leaders.

President Jonathan assumed office on May 6, 2010. As illustrated above, the GDP estimate trend lines for Nigeria and South Africa have almost paralleled each other since 1990, rising sharply around 2002. In essence, if the rebasing exercise was done in 2008 for instance using the same 50% revision factor, Nigeria’s GDP would also have surpassed that of South Africa ($310 billion vs. $243 billion USD). Guess who would have taken the credit – the late President Umaru Yar’Adua!

Verdict: That the  economy “has grown” under President Jonathan to become Africa’s largest is a bit stretched.

2. Mr. Omokri: In 2009 Nigeria’s Per Capita Income Was $1091.Today it is $1721, an increase of almost 70%. Link: tinyurl.com/y5tfwwd

Cross-check: Here Mr. Omokri’s figures referring to Nigeria’s GDP per capita (denominated in current US dollars) are correct, but there is more to this than immediately meets the eye.

Nigeria’s GDP per capita has been on an upward trend since 2002, apart from a dip in 2009, following the 2008 recession. Between 2009 and 2010, the upward trend resumed and continued after President Jonathan assumed office in May 2010.

Let’s take a look at the annual percentage growth in GDP per capita?

Verdict: Nigeria’s GDP has continued to grow but since 2010, the annual rate of growth has actually been on the decline.

3. Mr. Omokri: In 2007 Average Life Expectancy in Nigeria Was 47 Years. Today it is 52 Years. Link: tinyurl.com/yyl5xy2

Cross-check: Average life expectancy in Nigeria in 2007 was 50 years and not 47 years as stated. Graphs relating to Nigeria’s life expectancy have previously been published on this blog here and here.  Life expectancy in 2010 was 51.41 years and 51.86 in 2011, a difference of about one half (0.5) year. To put that in perspective, at a rate of increase of 0.5/year, Nigeria’s life expectancy would catch up with Ghana’s in 24 years (assuming that Ghana’s value remained static)

Verdict: Nigeria’s life expectancy is essentially unchanged since 2010. It would be petty to credit the president with having improved life expectancy by 0.5 years in 1 year.

4. Mr. Omokri: In 2010 Inflation in Nigeria Was 15.60%. Today it is 7.9%. Link: tinyurl.com/6pyhylf

Cross-check: Inflation reduced drastically in 2013 under President Jonathan. 15.6% was a snapshot inflation rate for March 2010, the highest for the whole year. Annualized inflation rate for the whole of 2010 was 13.72%. In 2013, the inflation rate dropped from 12% in January to 7.8% in November. The inflation rate has not been this low since April 2008.

Source: tradingeconomics.com

Inflation rate is calculated from  Consumer Price Index (CPI). My economist friends tell me however that changes in CPI are lagging economic indicators of inflation. In other words, it may take several years for changes in commodity prices to be reflected in the CPI. The president has been in office for over three years, so I give this to him.

Verdict: Rate of inflation has been halved since President Jonathan assumed office.

5. Mr. Omokri: In 2007 Maternal Mortality Rate Was 750 per 100,000 Births. Today It Is 580 Link: tinyurl.com/lfr4jjb

Cross-check: The World Bank mostly provides modeled estimates of maternal mortality ratios in “developing” countries like Nigeria due to incompleteness of vital registration systems. This was the data that was referenced by Mr. Omokri’s short link above.

Maternal mortality rates have been on a consistent decline since 2000. The World Bank’s last model estimate for maternal mortality was 630 maternal deaths per 100, 000 live births in 2010. A United Nations report on “Trends in Maternal Mortality” that was released on May 16, 2013 examined trends between 1990 and 2010. The data source referenced by Mr. Omokri does not include estimates as yet, that can be used to analyze how the president’s health policies may have impacted on maternal mortality.

Furthermore, the report showed that 14% of the world’s deaths related to childbearing are in Nigeria. So while we continue to work on improving in this regard, there should be no cause for chest beating or self praise until our maternal mortality rates at the very least approximate what obtains in comparable countries. Corresponding 2010 estimates for Ghana and Senegal stand at 350 and 370 respectively!

Verdict: There are no reliable data estimates as yet, with respect to maternal mortality trends since 2010.

Mr. Omokri made other references to several promises that have been fulfilled by President Jonathan, including the privatization of the power sector, the building of railways, airports and schools. I do not contest these facts and I laud the president for fulfilling his promises. My analysis was intentionally limited to assertions relating to economic, health and social indicators.