The Falsehoods, Exaggerations of Nigeria’s Leading Parties at First CDD Presidential Debate

Top members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) met in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, on Tuesday to each convince Nigerians their parties possessed the best ideas in bringing lasting peace to the country.

However, not all their claims and arguments, as The ICIR later discovered in a follow-up fact-check, are founded on flawless facts. All three speakers — Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC national publicity secretary, Osita Chidoka, former Aviation Minister representing the PDP, and Tope Fasua, ANRP presidential candidate — committed one factual error or the other.

The event was the first of the Nigerian Political Parties Discussion Series for parties fielding presidential candidates. In this report, The ICIR places the claims of the various parties side by side with available evidence and gives verdicts on their factuality.

Lanre Issa-Onilu. File credit: CDD West Africa

APC: Neighbouring countries did not work with previous govt.

Claim: When he started off, Issa-Onilu, who represented the ruling APC, said “the issue of security is one which I always say we shouldn’t play politics with”. But it appears that is exactly what he did when he claimed that the trustworthiness of the Buhari administration, which the PDP-led government lacked, is what has won the country support from neighbouring African countries such as Niger and Cameroon.

He said: “I want to discuss the fact that this government is responsive. This government is taking far-reaching action because if the past government had looked for ways of tackling this issues in a way that will make this peace to be more durable, we will not be where we are today… But this time around, we could see that the most important thing in security is your reputation as a country and the credibility of the government in power … because we cannot tackle security alone without the other countries around you being fully involved.

“So the involvement of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and other countries that are cooperating with us has to do with the credibility of the government. The successes we have recorded are made possible because we have the credibility for suh countries to work with us. We know they didn’t work with the past government because there was no such credibility.”

Checks by The ICIR, however, revealed that it is incorrect to say neighbouring African countries did not collaborate with the previous administration to fight terrorism as there are numerous records showing otherwise.

In July 2014, following attacks outside local borders by the terrorist sect, defence ministers of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger met in Niamey and pledged to expedite the creation of a 2,800-strong regional force to tackle.

Months earlier, in March, Nigeria entered into an agreement with France, the Republic of Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger “to increase the level of coordination and exchange of intelligence as well as hold regular meetings of experts with a view to containing the menace.”

And beginning in 2015, before Buhari’s inauguration, the coalition of West African troops launched an offensive against the insurgents, with soldiers from Niger and Chad crossing into Northeastern Nigeria for the operation.

Verdict: The claim is false.

The APC national publicity secretary also said, in the last three years, “there has been massive improvement in the conduct of the police, in terms of them applying the best … that you expect for this kind of environment due to the job they are doing”. The 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index, which ranked Nigeria 127th out of 127 countries, however, gives a lie to this claim.

According to the report, “Nigeria was the worst performing country on the WISPI, with a score of 0.255. Nigeria scored poorly across all four domains [i.e. capacity, process, legitimacy, outcomes], and had the worst score of any country in the Index on the process and outcomes domains. All of its domain scores were in the bottom ten countries.”


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