2019: Did Presidential Hopeful Kingsley Moghalu Just Lie?
It's still open season for politicians in Nigeria and the hunt for the office of president is still heating up.
Is the self-inflicted pressure for relevance or the itch to land memorable jabs making people speak without fact-checking?
First, it was the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar speaking about the current rate of unemployment being the highest in the history of Nigeria. It was unproven.
Another presidential hopeful and former staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu recently picked a bone with the budget for Nigeria’s 2019 general elections.
His claims - "Nigeria’s voting population was six times smaller than India’s" and "Nigeria’s 2019 election budget is US$625 million India’s 2014 poll cost US$600 million."
Our colleagues at Africa Check, as researched by Allwell Okpi, have taken the bold step to put these claims to test.
Itch Fingers? Check Before You Tweet
The Independent National Electoral Commission should explain why the elections would be “astronomically expensive”, Moghalu, a former central bank deputy governor, tweeted in August 2018.
“India’s 2014 elections cost US$600 million, in which over 500 million people voted,” he wrote.
“Our elections will cost US$625 million for a voting population that is six times smaller than India’s.”
Moghalu, a professor of practice in international business and public policy, wants the bill reduced by “tackling wasteful spending and corruption in the public procurement process”.
But do his figures add up? Here’s what we found.
Africa Check contacted Moghalu for his evidence and he directed us to a report titled The Cost of Running Elections – A Cross Country Comparison. It was published in December 2015 by the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies, a parliamentary research institution.
The report said Nigeria’s election agency spent US$625 million in the country’s 2015 general elections.
Moghalu also provided links to media reports estimating that India’s 2014 general election directly cost the country’s government US$600 million.
Moghalu tweeted that US$625 million would be spent on Nigeria’s 2019 elections. In August 2018 the election agency told parliament it needed N189.2 billion (US$618 million at the current Central Bank exchange rate of N306 to a dollar) for the elections.
Twenty-six of the 36 states will vote in February and March 2019, with the other states voting on other dates.
India’s 2014 poll cost the government 38.7 billion Indian rupees according to a 2016 report on the poll by the country’s election manager. This was about US$645 million at the May 2014 exchange rate. (Note: Both estimates exclude the cost of maintaining law and order and expenses such as advertising.)
Are You Comparing Apples And Oranges?
The similarity in the spend would suggest India’s political system was more stable and so more efficient Dr Ferdinand Otto, a political science lecturer at the University of Lagos, told Africa Check.
Care should however be taken when directly comparing the cost of elections held four years apart and on different continents, Dr Magnus Ohman, a senior political finance adviser at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, told Africa Check.
And if one wanted to check the impact of the budgeted spend on the local people, factoring in price levels would make for a fairer comparison, World Bank economist Mizuki Yamanaka told Africa Check.
Moghalu’s Nigeria figure of US$625 million is close to the dollar cost of India’s 2014 elections. But it doesn’t take into account the differences in political systems, or in the cost of goods and services in the two countries.
We therefore rate his claim as mostly correct.
India had 834 million registered voters for its 2014 elections, according to Election Commission of India data.
For the 2015 general elections Nigeria had 68.8 million registered voters. By August 2018 it had “over 80 million citizens” on its voter register, the head of the electoral agency, Mahmood Yakubu, said in an interview.
New voter listing closed on 31 August 2018.
Nigeria’s voting population is about 10 times smaller than India’s, not six times as Moghalu said. We therefore rate the claim as incorrect.