A January 2016 poll of Nigerians by the Governance Accountability Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN) has found that the majority of Nigerians do not blame President Muhammadu Buhari for the present-day economic troubles confronting the federal republic. According to the poll results obtained by SaharaReporters, “the majority [of those polled] blame the Jonathan government, States, and the National Assembly for the economy.”

President Muhammadu Buhari speaking in Paris

These findings come days after The Economist magazine in London declared that President Buhari was “killing much of Nigeria’s nascent industry” in a January 30th report.  Nigeria is also in the midst of debate whether the naira should be devalued, how to manage a declining price of oil, and economic diversification into mineral extraction and agriculture.

According to the GAIN poll approval of Mr. Buhari’s government is at 63 percent. The lowest rated of all of Nigeria’s major institutions is the Senate, which has a 7 percent approval. The abysmal Senate rating comes after months of controversy including the ongoing legal trouble confronting Senate President Bukola Saraki related to corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The media suppression bill, which gained national attention because of its attack on social media, originated in the Senate and was criticized far and wide by activists, lawyers, and Mr. Buhari’s government.

Poll respondents were asked to rate Nigeria’s institutions on a scale from 1-5 because it allows “a deeper understanding of the nuances that informed respondents’ choices.

An excerpt of the poll, its findings, and corresponding graphs authored by GAIN can be read below:

Key highlights

  • Majority blame Jonathan government, States and the National Assembly for state of the economy
  • Overall approval for the Buhari government holds steady at 63%
  • Nigerian Senate has the lowest approval rating of major governmental institutions at 7%
  • Nigerian Army overtakes Presidency as highest rated National Institution
  • Kachikwu rated best performing minister
  • Support for anti-corruption war remains high at 76%
  • 22% of Nigerians are concerned that the government is abusing the rule of law
  • Buhari government scores low on jobs, economy, power
  • 60% give poor ratings to government’s handling of Fulani Herdsmen clashes
  • Disaffection with both major parties grows as 66% of Nigerians indicate they do not support any political parties

Buhari government maintains high overall approval rating

63.4% of the respondents gave the Buhari government a high approval rating. As with our inaugural poll, we provided respondents with a 5 point-scale response to this question. We maintained our approach of not using a simple forced two scale measure of approval (Yes or No) to enable a deeper understanding of the nuances that informed respondents’ choices. A positive approval rating in our terminology refers only to those respondents that reported either an “Excellent” or “Good” rating. A negative rating comprises of those individuals that reported a “Poor” or “Very Poor” rating.

 

Security overtakes Anticorruption as the area of greatest concern

Respondents were provided with a number of key segments and focus areas for the government and were required to provide a forced three tier ranking (High, Medium, Low) of their perceptions of the importance of each of the areas.

Under the “High” ranking response, security (Boko Haram Crisis) was rated as the most important area of concern and/or interest by 76% of Nigerians, toppling the Anticorruption initiative (73%) as the issue of greatest importance. The top 5 rated areas overall were Security (76%), Anti-Corruption (73%), Power (65%), Economy & Jobs (64%) and Education (57%).

 

Anticorruption war remains popular, but concerns grow over abuse of rule of law

Support for the anticorruption war remained very high with 76% of respondents expressing support for the initiative. 17% of respondents were of the view that the anti-corruption war targets mostly members of the PDP, while 16% indicated that the anti-corruption war targets the President’s political enemies.  22% of respondents were concerned that the government is abusing the rule of law

 

Anticorruption and Security remain bright spots; Nigerians score government low on economy, housing, healthcare, education and power

For the second month in a row, respondents gave the government low scores on performance in all the surveyed sectors, except for Anticorruption (62% High rating) and Security (56% High rating).

The most significant improvement was in the Availability of Petroleum Products, which went from 55% low ratings in the inaugural poll, to 30% low ratings in the current poll, and moved into 3rd place (after anticorruption and security) as the highest ranked performance area for the Buhari government (16%).

 

Majority blame Jonathan government, State Governments, National Assembly for state of the economy

The overall high ratings received by the Buhari government in our inaugural poll seemed to be contradictory to the poor ratings given to the state of the economy by respondnets. In order to better understand why there seemed to be a disconnect between respondents’ expressions of discontent with the levels of performance in key sectors like the economy and overall high governmental approval ratings, we introduced a new question in this poll that asked respondents to provide their views on which institutions and persons were to blame for the current state of the economy.

59% of respondents were of the view that the Jonathan government was completely to blame for the current state of the economy.   Respondents blamed State & Local Governments (33%) and the National Assembly (21%) ahead of the President and his team (14%) for the state of the economy. We will retain this question in future surveys to determine at what point Nigerians begin to transfer full ownership of the economy from the past government and other arms of government, to the Buhari administration.

 

Majority are troubled by the economy, but optimistic about the future

We introduced a new survey question that was aimed at understanding the sentiments of respondents on the economy. 45% of respondents indicated that they were optimistic about the economy. A slightly higher number (51%) indicated that they were positive about the future. About 19% of respondents were of the opinion that nothing is currently being done by the government to create jobs.

 

Kachikwu shines in ministerial performance ratings; Lai talks his way to second place

Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum was the highest rated minister, with 48% of respondents giving him high ratings (very high plus high). Lai Mohammed was the second rated minister with 42% high ratings. Fashola, who had topped the initial ministerial ratings in our inaugural poll, was rated third for his work in the power sector (34%).

 

Nigerian Senate has lowest approval rating of major national institutions (7%); Army overtakes Presidency as most respected national institution (68%)

Respondents were asked to rate 9 major governmental institutions, i.e., the Presidency, Senate, House of Representatives, Army, Police, Judiciary and the 3 anti-corruption organs – EFCC, ICPC and CCB. The Nigerian Army was the most highly rated governmental institution, with 68% of respondents rating it as high or very high.

The two arms of the National Assembly were the worst rated institutions, maintaining dismal showings from our inaugural poll. Only 7% of respondents rated the Senate highly, a drop from the 13% it received in our last poll. Approval ratings for the House of Representative also dropped from 19% high approval ratings in the December 2015 poll, to 12%.

The EFCC was ranked third with 57% high approval ratings.  

 

Majority disapprove of government’s handling of Fulani Herdsmen attacks

The Buhari government continued to receive high approvals for its handling of the Boko Haram crisis (86%). 59% of respondents approved of the handling of the Shiite – Military crisis. 40% of respondents disapprove of the government’s handling of the pro-Biafra agitation.

60% of respondents rated the government’s handling of the Fulani herdsmen attacks as poor or very poor.

 

Support for PDP sinks to new low

Battered and reeling from the daily revelations on the allegations of corruption under the past PDP government and the very public prosecution of its leaders in the anticorruption war, support for the PDP shrunk further to 2.5%, from 4% in our inaugural poll. Support for the APC also dropped from 38% to 31%, reflecting growing disaffection with both political parties. An increasing number of Nigerians (66%) indicate that they do not support any political party.  

 

Methodology & Disclosure

The survey was administered using electronic media between January 17th and 27th, 2016. A total of 1,131 complete responses were received. The survey results have a 3% margin of error at a 95% confidence level. The Governance Accountability Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN) Poll is a public service survey intended to track the performance of government at all levels and provide feedback from the public to their elected officials. GAIN will also periodically publish policy statements to provide perspectives on key policy and governance areas. GAIN surveys are coordinated by Dr Malcolm Fabiyi and Dr Adeleke Otunuga.

Dr. Fabiyi holds a BSc (First class) degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Otunuga holds Bachelors (Philosophy) and Masters Degrees (IRPM) from the University of Lagos, and a Doctor of Management (Organizational Leadership) from the University of Phoenix. Any inquiries regarding the survey should be directed to [email protected]

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