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Nigerian Presidential Candidate Bola Tinubu Understates Country’s 2015 Oil Production



Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The presidential candidate of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, recently told a gathering of supporters that the country was producing “400,000” barrels of oil a day with global prices at their “worst” when President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015. But this is false; official records and OPEC data show that Nigeria was producing more than quadruple the amount when Buhari took over from Goodluck Jonathan on May 29, 2015. Market prices were falling but also nowhere near historic lows.

“Buhari took over the least…the lowest production…400,000 thousand barrels of oil, the worst pricing in the crude oil (sic),” Tinubu said at the inauguration of his women’s campaign team in the capital Abuja on October 10, 2022.

Tinubu made the comment while praising Buhari, implying that despite inheriting low oil production and weak prices, he was able to improve the country’s economy, infrastructure, and security.

His address was broadcast by Lagos-based Television Continental, which also uploaded the full speech to its YouTube channel.


Tinubu, a former ExxonMobil treasurer, was nominated as APC’s presidential candidate on June 8, 2022. He defeated 13 others, including the country’s vice president and senate president.

He is seeking to succeed Buhari when the country goes to the polls in February 2023.


Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is one of the biggest oil producers in the world, with 7.24% of its real gross domestic product in 2021 coming from the oil sector.

However, Tinubu’s remarks about the situation inherited by Buhari in 2015 are incorrect.

Oil production understated

AFP Fact Check searched the website of Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and found a quarterly report on the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that covered oil production for April, May, and June 2015.

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According to the NBS, the average daily oil production in the first quarter of 2015 was 2.18 million barrels per day (bpd) and 2.05 million bpd in the following quarter covering April, May, and June 2015.


NECO Result 2022

A screenshot of NBS data showing figures for Nigeria’s oil production for Q1 and Q2 of 2015

Similar figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that the country’s oil production for May 2015 when Buhari took over was 2.05 million bpd. It was 2.03 million bpd in the preceding month and 1.97 million bpd the following month.

NECO Result 2022

A screenshot of CBN data shows the average daily production for April, May, and June 2015

These figures show that Nigeria was producing more than quadruple what Tinubu claimed.

While OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) data showed slightly lower production figures in Nigeria for the same period, the output was still significantly higher than what Tinubu claimed.

According to OPEC, Nigeria produced 1.88 million bpd in April 2015, 1.84 million in May and 1.9 million in June of the same year.


Production fluctuated between 2016 and 2021, tumbling to its lowest by the end of last year when quarterly data from the NBS showed the country produced 1.5 million bpd.

NECO Result 2022

A screenshot of NBS data showing Nigeria’s average quarterly oil production between 2016 and 2021

Under Buhari, oil peaked at 2.22 million bpd in September 2015. Last month it was 940,000 bpd, the lowest since Buhari’s election seven years ago.

Worst oil prices?

Oil prices were also not at their “worst” when Buhari came into office in 2015.


Buhari assumed office when global oil prices were plunging. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, oil prices peaked at $107.95 on June 20, 2014, and then fell to $44.08 in January 2015, months before Buhari took over from Goodluck Jonathan.

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CBN put the price for the Bonny Light crude oil (categorised as Brent crude oil), which Nigeria produces, at $48.81 in January 2015. Although prices for other types of crude oil may differ, they, however, follow the same trajectories.

By the time Buhari arrived in May 2015, a barrel of Bonny Light crude oil was $65.08 on average. The month before it had sold for $57.45 per barrel and by June it was $62.06 a barrel.


The price dropped to $37.80 in December 2015 and fell further to $30.66 in January 2016. It later touched $27.90 per barrel in May 2020. However, the lowest price for Brent crude oil in the last 20 years was $25.01 recorded in 2002.

The price of oil shot up to $130 in June 2022, the highest since January 2006, according to CBN data.

Oil theft

Oil theft has become a major talking point after Nigeria failed to meet its OPEC quota in August.


The chairman of Lagos-based Heirs Oil & Gas has said 95% of the country’s daily oil production is being lost to vandalism and theft.

On August 12, 2022, the supertanker MV Heroic Idun resisted arrest and fled Nigeria’s waters. The Nigerian Navy said the tanker entered the country illegally and was meant to be used for oil theft.

Weeks later, government-owned oil company NNPC Limited said it discovered a nine-year-old pipeline used to steal oil.


“Oil theft in the country has been going on for over 22 years but the dimension and rate it assumed in recent times is unprecedented,” NNPC’s CEO Mele Kyari said.

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