Gallup, the internationally respected pollster, has denied that it is in any way behind NOI Polls or the group’s recent “research” stories about President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval rating in Nigeria.

NOIPolls repeatedly characterizes itself on the web and on social media as working in partnership with Gallup USA. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is Nigeria's minister of Finance and founder of NOIpolls Limited

“NOIPolls is the “No. 1 for country-specific polling services in the West African region,” it says in its profile.  “We partner with Gallup USA to develop opinion research in Nigeria.  We deliver forward-thinking research and relevant data on public opinion and consumer markets on a range of topics. We enhance the activities of decision makers across all the vibrant sectors of the Nigerian economy.   We partner with policy makers, governments, donor agencies, civil societies, corporate organisations and the media to enhance their data set of information, ultimately adding value to their output.”

By so heavily leaning on Gallup, NOIPolls, which is owned by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (NOI), Nigeria’s Minister of Finance/Coordinating Minister of the Economy, has published a series of “research” reports that are predictably favourable to a government in which she holds two cabinet posts and is generally regarded as “Prime Minister.”

In its 11th “survey,” published this week, NOIPolls declared Mr. Jonathan to enjoy a 60% approval rating in November 2014 among adult Nigerians surveyed, “consistent with the 60% job approval rating recorded in October 2014.” 

At a time Mr. Jonathan’s public perception is known to have taken a big hit on account of various scandals, including Nigeria’s phantom ceasefire with Boko Haram, the unrealized announcement of the release of the Chibok girls, and the embarrassing seizure of Nigerian towns and villages by Islamic militants, NOIPolls said only 27% of Nigerians disapproved of the President’s performance while 13% neither approved nor disapproved. Screenshot of NOIpolls showing 60% job approval for President Jonathan

Of its methodology, NOI said it used telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample of 1,000 phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country. 

It was unclear whether the sample included people in several States under the Boko Haram menace or without power to charge their phones, particularly the three under a state of emergency.  Still, NOIPolls claimed “confidence.”

“With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3%, NOIPolls said, reasserting that it undertook the exercise “in technical partnership with the Gallup Organisation (USA).”

SaharaReporters contacted Gallup to find out if its expertise and credibility supports the claims by NOI Polls.

Johnathan Tozer, Gallup’s Global Communications Director, said in response: “NOI polls has been a client of Gallup in the past but we are not part of the data collection or methodology related to the President Goodluck Jonathan approval rating poll.”

The response is reproduced here.

Many thanks for your email to Gallup. I looked into the below and I can confirm from Joe Daly, with Gallup that  “NOI polls has been a client of Gallup in the past but we are not part of the data collection or methodology related to the President Goodluck Jonathan approval rating poll.”

Many thanks – Johnathan

JOHNATHAN TOZER

Global Communications Director

The implication of the denial by Gallup is that the hard-earned name of that company has been used as a front in Nigeria to attempt to build the image of the government and advance the re-election ambitions of Mr. Jonathan. 

“Okonjo-Iweala setting up a polling outfit to burnish the image of a government of which she is a key part is like Senator John Kerry setting up a similar outfit in Washington to advance the work of the Barack Obama government and push the re-election bid of Mr. Obama,” a political analyst said on Friday.  “It is a sad, cynical effort at public opinion manipulation that ought never to have begun.  It means that rather than focus on the work of the government, she was focusing on its propaganda to make it look better than it really is.”

Added a newspaper editor: “All they have to do [to come up with their survey] is sit in front of a computer and manufacture the numbers.  Come to think of it, that is probably what they have been doing, and I hope Gallup sues them!”

Coincidentally, in Gallup’s Inaugural State of Global Well-Being Report 2013, Nigeria did not do so well in the areas that the Minister of Finance/Economy ought to be focusing on.  In it, the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index (Global Well-Being Index) demonstrates a global barometer of individuals’ perceptions of their own well-being — “those aspects that define how we think about and experience our daily lives.”

The foreword to the project argues that measurements of national performance have for too long focused on income — gross domestic product (GDP) and its components — but such measures are much too narrow. Income is certainly important to people — and the growth of incomes over the last 250 years has been one of the greatest achievements of humankind — but it is not the only thing that matters.

“People can have low well-being and high income, and conversely high well-being and low income.   Income is not worth much without health to enjoy it, and good health is a blessing in and of itself, allowing people to live a full and worthwhile life. A good education is not only a vital requirement to do well in life, but it brings its own joys and a richer life in many dimensions. People enjoy contributing meaningfully to the betterment of civil society. The absence of the fear of war and violence, something that was rarely enjoyed by people’s ancestors, also contributes to high well-being.

“When we ask people to think about how their lives are going, to report on their daily emotions, and to tell us about their health, we gain a much broader picture of their well-being than can be inferred from traditional economic surveys.”

With that in mind, the report observes as follows on Nigeria:

About one in eight Nigerians (12%) are thriving in financial well-being, similar to the regional figure for sub-Saharan Africa (9%) but half the global figure (25%). Nearly half of Nigerians are suffering in financial well-being (48%), underscoring the prevalence of financial insecurity among the millions of Nigerians living in poverty.

Sixteen percent of Nigerians are thriving in community well-being — again, similar to the regional total (18%) but lower than the global percentage (26%). Boko Haram’s frequent attacks on civilians in the north and east of the country since 2010 have likely taken a heavy toll on Nigerians’ perceptions of their communities, with many questioning their own safety. In 2013, nearly half of Nigerians (47%) said they do not feel safe walking alone at night in their own neighborhoods.

Nigeria’s vast natural resources and growing labor force offer no shortage of opportunities to further the country’s economic and social development if the government can more effectively address the domestic issues of instability, violence, and poor infrastructure. Economic diversification is also critical to improving Nigerians’ well-being; though the government continues to rely heavily on oil revenues, reforms aimed at promoting business development and other forms of broad-based economic opportunity are needed to boost job growth and community cohesion. 

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