Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has continued to conjure fake figures of the country’s oil production during his tenure and the average price of a barrel of crude oil during the tenures of his predecessors, despite numerous fact-checks of his false claims.
Some of the variations of the president’s erroneous claims have appeared in his written speeches and offhand remarks.
During his closing speech to his cabinet at the ministerial retreat at the Presidential Villa last Tuesday, Buhari added one more dubious claim. He said the country’s oil production nosedived to one million barrels per day due to attacks from militants.
Buhari’s first recorded claim came in July 2015.
“He then talked about the impact of the collapse of the oil prices, which averaged about 100 US Dollars from 1999 to 2015, saying that its fall to about 30 dollars a barrel some weeks ago was shocking. ‘I would have been in a coma if not for the fact that I was in oil (sector as a past minister) for three years,’” Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity wrote about what Buhari told the Niger Delta Dialogue and contact group led by King Alfred Diete-Spiff during their visit to Presidential Villa in 2015.
Again, in his Democracy Day speech the following year, Buhari updated his claim about the average oil price during the tenures of his predecessors.
“The past years have witnessed huge flows of oil revenues. From 2010, average oil prices were $100 per barrel.”
While addressing the country on October 1, 2016, he made the same false claim about the average oil price, adding that militant attacks had reduced Nigeria’s oil production in his tenure to less than a million barrels per day.
“Oil price dropped from an average of hundred USD per barrel over the last decade to an average of forty USD per barrel this year and last,” he said. “Worse still, the damage perpetrated by Niger Delta thugs on pipelines sometimes reduced Nigeria’s production to below one million barrels per day against the normal two point two million barrels per day.”
In November 2016, when graduates of the Senior Executive Course 38 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru, Plateau State, came to the Presidential Villa to present a report on poverty reduction, Buhari repeated his favourite lie.
“For 16 years and eight consecutive governments of the other party, you know that there was unprecedented revenue realised. The oil projection, which can be verified, was 2.1 million barrels per day. 1999-2015, the average cost of each Nigerian barrel of oil was $100 per barrel. When we came (elected), it fell to less than $30 per barrel and is now oscillating between 40 and 50.”
In his 2017 Independence Day speech, Buhari said, “We should remind ourselves of the recent journey from 1999-2015 when our country happily returned to democratic rule.
Despite oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1 million barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered, and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected.”
Interacting with members of the Buhari Support Organisation in 2018, he said, “I challenge anybody to check from Europe, America and Asia; between 1999-2014, Nigeria was producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day at an average cost of 100 USD per barrel and it went up to 143 USD. When we came (elected), it collapsed to 37 – 38 USD and later was oscillating between 40 and 50 USD.”
Both Buhari and his speechwriters have continued to disseminate fake news while attacking the media and unleashing the Department of State Security on Nigerians over claims of hate speech and misinformation.
Forgetting that whatever he says is generally considered as news, the president continued with his dubious claims while addressing his cabinet at the first-year performance ministerial retreat held last Tuesday in the Presidential Villa.
“I want the Nigerian elite, please encourage them to judge us fairly. From 1999 to 2014, the average production was 2.1m barrels a day. The average cost was a hundred American dollars per barrel. When we came it collapsed to 37 and 38 dollars per barrel, you know it. The militants were unleashed on the administration, and the production went down to half a million barrels a day.”
Despite proving that Buhari’s claims about average oil price have been false, the president has refused to back down from spreading incorrect information.
Using the price basket compiled by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dubawa, a fact-checking news outlet, found that the average cost of a barrel of crude oil from 1999 to 2014 was about $61.
Both Dubawa and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) have separately found that only between 2011 and 2013 did crude oil price ever averaged above $100.
Also, the president’s claim that Niger Delta militants forced oil production down to half a million barrels per day when he came into office is false.
The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) started publishing monthly financial operation data in October 2015. In the first month of each year, it states the average daily production per month for the 12 preceding months of the previous year.
Data gathered from its January 2016 monthly operation scorecard shows that the average daily petroleum production for 2015 was estimated at 2.13 million bpd. Only in June 2015 did oil production slip below 2 million bpd.