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FACT-CHECK: Is Nigeria better today than before 2015 as claimed by Buhari?

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President Muhammadu Buhari has claimed that he has performed better than his predecessors, particularly in the areas of security, economy, and anti-corruption.

The President in response to Bloomberg’s questions published on June 21, 2022, said that his administration will be leaving Nigeria “in a far better place than he found it.

According to him, “We leave Nigeria in a far better place than we found it. Corruption is less hidden for Nigerians feel empowered to report it without fear, while money is returned; terrorists no longer hold any territory in Nigeria, and their leaders are deceased, and vast infrastructure development sets the country on course for sustainable and equitable growth.”

“As you are all aware, this administration came to office determined to make an impact in three main areas: Security, building a sustainable economy and fight against corruption. We can say that recent positive developments in these areas have shown that despite the challenges on ground, we can see general improvement in all three areas.”

He further said, “In the area of corruption, as you are all aware, I am determined to ensure that we do not have a repeat of what has gone on in previous administrations and we have taken a strong stand against pervasive corruption.”

This is not the first time President Buhari will claim that he performed better than his predecessors in office either in the immediate past or even the previous predecessors.

Buhari took over from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which had been in power since 1999.

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Buhari, on June 17, 2022, in Kano, said three priorities of the administration, security, economy and corruption, have received significant attention, with measurable results, following his vision of making Nigeria more peaceful, prosperous and reliable, among nations.

The President made the claim during the Passing Out Parade of the Regular Course 4/2016 Cadets of the Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil. Noting further that his administration’s new approaches have yielded positive results, he said it is glaring that Nigeria’s ranking has improved on the world Counter-Terrorism global index from 4th to 6th position on the list of the most terrorised nations.

On March 13, 2013, he made a similar statement while addressing reporters after observing the Eid-il-Fitri prayers at the State House in Abuja.

Also, the President during his nationwide broadcast to Nigerians to mark the nation’s 61st independence in 2021 boasted that no government or administration since 1999, has done what he has done for the country in six years.

“No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to put Nigeria back on track”, he stated.

But how true are President Muhammadu Buhari’s claims?

Nigeria has had three democratically-elected presidents since 1999 before Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, after defeating incumbent Jonathan in an election held on March 28, 2015. They are  Olusegun Obasanjo – 29th May 1999 to 29th May 2007; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua – 29th May 2007 to 5th May 2010; Goodluck Ebele Jonathan – May 6, 2010, to May 29, 2015, and Muhammadu Buhari – May 29, 2015, to date.

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To find out if there has been a significant impact since Buhari assumed office in 2015 in Nigeria, The ICIR used Data from the World Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, Transparency International, Nigeria Social Violence Project, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project to fact-check Buhari’s claim that Nigeria is better off today than in 2015 in terms of security, corruption and economy.

 

On insecurity…

Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) shows that Nigeria has recorded more than 80,000 insecurity-related deaths from 1999 to 2022.

The numbers from ACLED show that during former President Obasanjo’s government, 11,141 Nigerians were killed in incidents related to insecurity, while the combined tenures of both the late President Yar’Adua and former President Jonathan recorded 32,694 death. Buhari’s government registered 41,903 insecurity-led deaths since he assumed office in 2015 till date.

Meanwhile in terms of incidents related to insecurity from 1999 till June 2022 Nigeria has recorded 17,591 security-related attacks. A breakdown of this still shows that Buhari’s administration recorded the highest at 12,120 attacks while  Obasanjo’s is  1,276 and
Yar’adua and Jonathan’s administration recorded  4,195 attacks.

Data from Social Violence in Nigeria Project under the auspices of the John Hopkins University Africa programme shows that Nigeria’s most deaths from violence-related before 2009 were from communal/sectarian clashes. But, while we still see a yearly increase in communal/sectarian violence-related deaths, the emergence of Boko Haram (For more on the group, read this factsheet.) and other terrorists, banditry and armed groups have led to a sharp rise in violence across the country.

A disaggregation of the numbers from ACLED shows that from 2015 to 2022, the wave of deaths and kidnapping has spread from one region to other parts of the country.

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Figures released by SBM Intelligence in September 2021 show that at least 1,409 students were recorded to have been kidnapped from their schools, and 16 of the victims have died since the latest wave of the school abduction epidemic.

Also, Jihad Analytics, a consultancy company which processes data on global and cyber jihad in a Tweet disclosed that between January and April of this year, Nigeria has had the highest number of attacks by the Islamic State (IS).

Jihad Analytics data shows that while Nigeria has recorded a total of 162 IS operations since January 2022, Iraq has recorded 120.

“Since the beginning of the year, the Islamic State has conducted half of its attacks in #Africa,” it wrote in a tweet posted in April.

“For the first time in the history of the jihadi group, Iraq is no longer the country where #IS claims the highest number of operations: the group #ISWAP is now more active in Nigeria.”

The ICIR in an interview with a Security Risk Management and Intelligence Specialist, Kabiru Adamu on the claim by President Buhari that his administration will be leaving Nigeria in a far better place than it was, said the fact that security is an agenda ahead of the 2023 elections means that there is still more work to be done.

The president rightly stated that Nigeria’s ranking on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has improved moving from fourth place, a position it had held since 2017 to the sixth position in the 2022 ranking.

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is a ranking report published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The index is often used to systematically rank the nations of the world, according to terrorist activities.

However, the dropped in the ranking are due to government anti-terrorism effort as well as some other factors.

In the latest GTI ranking, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Burkina Faso and Syria ranked above Nigeria.

Nigeria, Syria and Somalia were the only countries amongst the ten most impacted by terrorism to record an improvement in score from 2020 to 2021. Burkina Faso went from the sixth position with a score of 8.122 in the 2020 ranking, to 8.27 score.

According to the report, the death of the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau and government efforts are factors that led to the decline of Boko Haram in Nigeria, which has resulted in Nigeria’s ranking dropping on GTI ranking.

“Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 448 in 2021, the lowest level since 2011. Terror-related casualties dropped by almost half compared with the previous year. However, the number of terrorist attacks increased by 49 per cent between 2020 and 2021. 36 per cent of attacks were claimed by ISWAP, Boko Haram being responsible for eight per cent and 44 per cent not attributed to any group,” the report reads.

“In 2020, ISWAP became the deadliest terrorist group in Nigeria. The decline of Boko Haram continued into 2021, with Boko Haram responsible for only 69 deaths, a decrease of 77 per cent from the previous year. This is the lowest number of deaths by the group for a decade. Boko Haram’s decline has resulted in a substantial improvement in terrorism in Borno State, which experienced a decrease of 71 per cent in terrorism deaths when compared with the prior year.”

“Attacks in the state also decreased from 121 to 86 respectively, a decrease of 30 per cent. The state, however, remains the hardest-hit region in Nigeria for terrorism, accounting for half of all terror-related deaths in 2021.”

It further said, “Boko Haram’s decline coincides with a number of factors, most significantly the death of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau. Shekau, who committed suicide by detonating an explosives vest during a confrontation with ISWAP in May 2021. Given the demise of their leader, Shekau’s followers were faced with the decision to either continue Shekau’s ideology or join ISWAP.”

“It has been reported that as many as former Boko Haram commanders have joined ISWAP after Shekau’s death. Attacks by ISWAP as well as counter-terrorism efforts by the Nigerian government and foreign military forces have significantly weakened Boko Haram’s impact in Nigeria.”

Also, an analysis of the GTI figures by The ICIR, shows an increase in terrorism attacks, fatalities and injuries in Burkina Faso also contributed to the dropping of Nigeria on the latest GTI ranking.

Burkina Faso went from 191 incidents, 658 Fatalities and 185 injuries in 2020 to 216 Incidents, 732 Fatalities and 231 injuries in 2021, Syria from 438 incidents, 724 fatalities and 1053 injuries in 2020 to 338 incidents, 488 fatalities and 502 injuries, while Nigeria went from 137 incidents, 839 fatalities and 172 injuries in 2020 to 204 incidents, 448 fatalities and 161 injuries in 2021.

A security expert and Journalist, Murtala Abdullahi with knowledge about terrorism in Nigeria told The ICIR that the security situation in the region has also evolved after the death of the Boko Haram leader.

Security-related attacks in Nigeria according to ACLED data.

“There has been a sharp decrease in the number of casualties in the Northeast, partly due to the doctrine of ISWAP and the diminished capacity of Boko Haram,” he said.

“The security situation in the region has also evolved after the death of the Boko Haram leader and the defection of tens of thousands of people associated with the group.”

“The Nigerian military has in the past few months carried out large-scale operations in the region that has led to the incursion into sanctuaries of the insurgents. This operation has been enabled by the injection of new ground and air capabilities, especially armoured vehicles and aircraft.”

Also speaking, Adamu attributed the reduction in attacks by Boko Haram and ISWAP to enhanced interdiction attacks by the military and the fratricidal war between the two groups.

“The reduction in attacks by JamatisAhlis Sunna Lil Dawatil Wal Jihad JAS) and by the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) vis attributable to enhanced interdiction attacks by the military and the fratricidal war between the two groups. The Nigerian military, courtesy of the Buhari administration, acquired military assets that are now being used for renewed interdiction attacks.

“The infighting has contributed to the reduction, but it did not just happen. It was a consequence of several factors which include government effort,” he added.

Nevertheless, as the data has shown even though Nigeria recorded an improvement on the terrorism front, it has recorded more insecurity-related deaths and insecurity-related attacks under Buhari’s administration therefore the claim is FALSE.

VERDICT: Data shows that the state of insecurity in Nigeria under Buhari’s government is not better than before, therefore the claim is False.

On economy…

The President’s claim on leading Nigeria’s economy better than he met it in 2015 when he assumed office is inconsistent with data obtained by The ICIR from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the World Bank on the state of inflation, public debt level, exchange rate, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment rate and poverty level.

Between May 2015 and June 2022, the Nigerian economy has fallen into recession twice.

Nigeria fell into recession in 2016 when the growth figures show the economy contracted 2.06 per cent between April and June, which according to the NBS, was a full-year recession.

Also, in 2020 the country suffered its second recession in June during the COVID-19 pandemic, which according to a report by the Punch Newspapers from data obtained from the World Bank was the worst in 36 years.

Inflation…

In Nigeria in recent years, prices of foods and general goods and services are skyrocketing.

There have been over 100 per cent hike in key staple food prices since President Buhari assumed office in 2015.

Nigeria’s inflation rate stood at a single digit of 9.01 per cent when Buhari assumed office in 2015. But the figure rose to 15.68 per cent in 2016 and increased to 16.52 per cent in 2017.

Data source: NBS

The figure, however, dropped to 12.09 per cent in 2018 and slowed down to 11.40 per cent in 2019. By 2020, it rose to 12.2 per cent and closed in 2021 at 16.95 per cent, the highest in three years.

The current inflation rate as of May 2022, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Consumer Price Index(CPI) and Inflation Report, is 17.71 per cent.

The price of food, according to a survey check by The ICIR in June 2022, showed that a kilogramme of chicken that sold for N1,000 in 2015 is now sold at N2,200, an increase of over 100 per cent.

Also, the price of a 50kg measure of white gari went from N6,000 in 2015 and has more than doubled to N17,000 in 2022.

A 50kg of rice sold for N10,000 in 2015, but it is now selling for N30,000, while a 50kg measure of beans that sold for N21,500 in 2015 is now selling for N34,000.

A litre of palm oil that could be purchased at N250 in 2015 now costs N800. A big basket of fresh pepper, which sold at N11,000 in 2015 is now selling for N17,000.

Also, a big basket of tomatoes, which was sold for N10,000 in 2015, now costs N17,000.

Also, up from N100 in 2015 to N170 in 2022 is 120 grammes of noodles.

A crate of egg, which sold for N600 in 2015, now sells for N2,200 in 2022, while a litre of vegetable oil which cost N300 in 2015 now goes for N1,700.

Apart from the yearly increase in Inflation, the poverty rate under the Buhari government has also increased, according to an NBS report, “2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria”, based on data from the latest round of the Nigerian Living Standards Survey, conducted in 2018-2019 with support from the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice and technical assistance from the LSMS program.

The report highlighted that 40 per cent of the total population, or almost 83 million people, live below the country’s poverty line of N137,430  ($381.75) per year.

Also, three years into the first term of Buhari’s Presidency, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day according to findings, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute.

The rise in the number of people in poverty in the country was two years after the slump in oil prices and a sharp fall in oil production, which saw the country’s economy slide into recession in 2016.

According to the 2018 findings, the number of Nigerians falling into extreme poverty grew by roughly six people every minute, overtaking India, which continues to decrease poverty.

In June of 2022, the World Poverty Clock estimated that 83 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty or 39 per cent out of the 214 million Nigerian estimated population.

Exchange rate

The country has constantly devalued the naira since Buhari became President.

Prior to when Buhari became President in 2015, Naira’s exchange to a dollar was hovering between N181.96 and N199, according to the CBN; and by 2016, 2017 and 2018, it was between N305 and N361 to a dollar. It exchanged between N305 and N413 in 2021.

Currently, it is trading between N413 and N416 for a dollar at the official price, but exchanging from N610 and above at the black market.

Debt Profile

Nigeria’s total debt profile as of June 30, 2015, stood at N12.12trillion, a month after Buhari assumed office, but the debt portfolio had risen to N32.92trillion as of December 31, 2020.

The figure shows within five and half years, the country’s debt has risen by N20.8trillion.

For domestic debt from June 2015 to December 2020, the budget office’s medium-term expenditure framework and fiscal strategy paper from 2015 showed that the Buhari-led administration incurred N7.63 trillion.

On external borrowings, President Buhari increased debt from $7.3 billion in 2015 to $28.57 billion as of December 2020. It showed that the Buhari-led administration incurred $21.27 billion on foreign loans to the country’s debt portfolio.

Nigeria’s current total public debt stock, according to a statement by the Debt Management Office (DMO) posted on the website on its, comprising the debt obligations of the federal government, states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) rose from N39.56 trillion in December 2021 to N41.60 trillion ($100.07 billion) in the first three months of 2022 (January to March), which shows an increase of N2.04tn within a period of three months.

Fuel prices

Prior to Buhari’s government, fuel was sold at N85/litre. But a year after assuming office, the price of fuel was moved to N145 per litre from N85.

While in 2020, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), increased the ex-depot price of the product, to N155.17 per litre from N147.67 per litre. The increase led to the product being dispensed to motorists by marketers within a band of N165 and N173 per litre.

Currently, the price of fuel is going for N180/litre. Some major cities of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun are witnessing fuel queues due to scarcity and also forcing motorists to spend hours at filling stations.

Similarly, Nigerian airlines threatened to discontinue their services from May 9, 2022 owing to the high cost of aviation fuel (JET A1).

Aviation fuel price (JetA1) at the time was N190 / litre but currently rose up to N700 / litre.

According to a letter signed by the President of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, and sent to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the airlines said they could no longer absorb the shocks of subsidising fuel for Nigerians.

The letter, endorsed by the chief executives of other domestic airlines, said the high cost of JET A1 fuel affected airlines’ profitability by 95 per cent.

“While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40 per cent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95 per cent.”

Unemployment rate

There has been a steady increase in the number of unemployed people since President Buhari assumed office in 2015.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate under Buhari’s government in 2015 increased to 9.9% for the third quarter of 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The NBS in the jobs data released reports that a total of 20.7 million persons between the ages of 15‐64 that were willing and able to work and actively seeking work (i.e in the labour force) were either unemployed or underemployed compared to 19.6 million in Q2 2015, compared to 17.7 million in Q1 2015.

Source: NBS

In its latest ranking, the NBS in the first quarter of 2021 in a report published on its website noted that Nigeria’s Unemployment Rate has risen from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, to 33 per cent, translating to some 23.2 million people.

The figure is the highest in at least 13 years.

Analysis of the NBS data shows that more than 60 per cent of Nigeria’s working-age population is younger than 34. Unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 stood at 53.4 per cent in the fourth quarter and at 37.2 per cent for people aged 25 to 34. The jobless rate for women was 35.2 per cent compared with 31.8 per cent for men.

GDP

Prior to Buhari’s Presidency, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) was 6.31% in 2014. But under Buhari, between 2015 and 2020, the Nigerian GDP growth did not exceed the population growth rate of 2.6 per cent, unlike during past administrations when the GDP growth outstripped the estimated annual population growth rate.

The World Bank, in a report, noted that between 2000 and 2014, Nigeria enjoyed a period of sustained expansion, during which the economy grew by an average of 7 per cent per year but has seen a drop since 2015.

An analysis of available data showed that Nigeria, since 1999, recorded the worst average GDP growth of 1.10% in the past seven years of Buhari’s government.

The best annual GDP growth rate Nigeria had since 1999, according to data from StatiSense, was 20 years ago, which was during Obasanjo’s administration, at 15.3%.

While under late former President Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s best GDP growth rate was 8.04% in 2009, while the best under former President Goodluck Jonathan was in 2010, which was 9.13%.

Buhari’s government’s best annual GDP growth rate since he became President in 2015 was in 2021 at 3.4 per cent.

The Buhari’s government annual GDP growth in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was -1.58 per cent, 0.82 per cent and 1.92 per cent, respectively.

In 2019 and 2020, annual GDP growth rates were 2.27 per cent and -1.92 per cent, respectively.

Though, the Buhari’s administration in terms of GDP growth, has been affected by the global economic meltdown of the 2016 and 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a -1.92 per cent in the 2020 – worst under his government.

VERDICT: Checks by The ICIR on key economic indices show that the President’s claim on Nigeria’s economy is FALSE.

On anti-corruption…

President Buhari in April 2022, pardoned two former governors who were convicted and jailed for corruption, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, of Plateau and Taraba states, respectively.

The former governors were among 159 convicts that were granted clemency and pardon by the Buhari-led Nigerian government.

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria and has long been an intrinsic part of Nigerian society, practically affecting all spheres of the country.

During President Buhari’s 2015 election campaign, he pledged to take decisive actions against corruption.

Buhari’s anti-corruption fight rests on these policies: implementation of Treasury Single Account, Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Petroleum Industry Act, Biometric Verification Number (BVN), Assets Recovery and ‘Whistle Blowing’ policy. Albeit some success with the government’s announcement in 2020 of saving an average of N45 billion monthly from the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the detection of 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries on the IPPIS platform through the use of BVN.

But the Buhari’s government has come under scrutiny due to the silence on some major corruption cases.

Since he became President, Nigeria’s score on the yearly Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking has ranged between 24 and 28 per cent, and its ranking is between 136 and 154. The 2021 ranking is his administration’s worst which showed Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa after Guinea.

Nigeria’s current 154 ranking out of 180 countries in the 2021 CPI is a drop from 149 in the 2020 index.

The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country that has the worst perception of corruption.

It is Nigeria’s second consecutive year of a downward spiral on the TI’s CPI ranking, the country’s score has dropped from 26 in 2019 to 25 in the 2020 assessment and further to 24 in the latest 2021 record.

The 2021 recorded ranking is the highest downward spiral on the ranking table, dropping five places in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) index, according to TI. The country scored 24 out of 100 points in the 2021 index.

Transparency International used a scale of 0 to 10 to grade countries between 1999 and 2011 but changed the system to 0 to 100 in 2012.

Based on TI ranking, Buhari’s administration has had the best performance in the anti-corruption fight compared to his predecessors since 1999.

Transparency International

Buhari between 2015 and 2021, has so far had the highest average score with 26.1 per cent.

Former President Obasanjo in his eight years tenure presidency between 1999 and 2007, Nigeria averaged 16.3 per cent on CPI.

Nigeria was perceived to be well corrupt before the advent of Obasanjo’s presidency in 1999. When he left office in 2007, Nigeria ranked 147th out of 180 countries from 98th out of 99 listed countries in 1999 when he became President, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Index.

Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua averaged 25 per cent in his three years of Presidency from 2007 to 2010.

When former President Jonathan left office in 2015, Nigeria was at an all-time rank of 136th out of 180 countries listed in TI’s Corruption Index.

Under Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria scored 25.5 out of 100 points on average.

The CPI is TI’s tool for measuring the levels of corruption in the systems of various countries around the world. The maximum points a country can score is 100 points, and the least is zero. Zero signifies the worst performing countries and 100, the best-ranked.

On its ranking, Transparency International said each country’s score is a combination of at least 3 data sources drawn from 13 different corruption surveys and assessments. These data sources are collected by a variety of reputable institutions, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

However, a 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices released by the US Department of State on March 30, 2021, described the scale of corruption in Nigeria under President Buhari’s administration as “massive, widespread, and pervasive.”

Also, a study conducted in 2019, between May and June 2019 involving 33,000 households by the National Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), titled Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends shows a trend of increase in the prevalence of bribery from 2016 to 2019 in the North-Central, South-East and South-South zones.

However, three (North-East, North-West and South-West) of the six regions recorded small decreases in the prevalence of bribery.

The Deputy Director of the Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), Kolawole Oluwadare in an interview with The ICIR, said he hasn’t seen any anti-corruption campaign materialise into something concrete from Buhari’s administration since 2015 till date.

According to him, “Transparency and accountability are key drivers in the fight against corruption, and what does that translate to. It means the action and plans across all government boards are made to the citizens, so they are aware of this fact. It means that when it comes to budget matters, citizens are aware of each budget line and the expenditure of the budget. How open is that in Nigeria? It is not open at all.”

“While we know how much is budgeted year in and year out, citizens do not have the same awareness of how those funds are expended. Even when there have been allegations of mismanagement of these funds, the government has done nothing.”

VERDICT: The claim that Nigeria has improved in the fight against anti-corruption is not conclusive. Getting an average from summing the CPI annual score and dividing it over the number of years, shows that there is an improvement.  However, if it is based on the current ranking Obasanjo handed over ranking at 142, Jonathan at 136 and now under Buhari it is 154, It shows that we are currently worse off on the corruption index.

Editor’s Note: This report was edited to add GDP as an indices.

Author profile

Olayinka works with The ICIR as the Social Media Manager, Reporter and Fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via oshehu@icirnigeria.org. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @BelloYinka72

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