Despite Regional Divisions, Worsening Economy, Nigerians Still Optimistic About Democracy -Survey | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Despite Regional Divisions, Worsening Economy, Nigerians Still Optimistic About Democracy -Survey

Posted: Jun 29, 2016 at 6:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ejikeme Omenazu

Lagos – A poll released on Tuesday in Abuja by the International Republican Institute (IRI) has indicated that Nigerians remain polarised between North and South, even as there is increasing support for the nation’s democratic process and the belief that democracy has improved since the 2015 national elections.

The survey was reportedly conducted by NOIPolls under the supervision of Chesapeake Beach Consulting and the International Republican Institute between April 18 and May 6, 2016.

The margin of error, according to the agency, did not exceed plus or minus 1.2 percent at the mid-range with a confidence level of 95 percent.

John Tomaszewski, IRI Acting Regional Director, Africa, who spoke on the findings, said, “This poll attests to the significant work that Nigeria’s government must do to address regional divisions and other issues of governmental responsiveness and accountability affecting the Nigerian people.

“But it also highlights the tremendous achievement of the Nigerian people in committing to the democratic process despite the difficulty of past elections, and is a promising indicator for the country’s democratic development since the return to democracy in 1999.”

According to him, while overall 54 percent of Nigerians feel that their country is headed in the right direction divisions in perceptions of the country’s trajectory are stark.

Also, he added, “Almost half of respondents in the North East (40 percent) said the country is headed strongly in the right direction, compared to just 10 percent in the South East, where 49 percent believe that the country is moving strongly in the wrong direction.

“A similar split can be seen in regional perceptions of the economy: 75 percent of respondents in the South East think the economy has gotten worse, compared with 44 percent in the North East.”

Tomaszewski maintained that while respondents in the North and South differ on a number of issues, questions regarding elections indicate commitment to the concept of the democratic process nationwide.

As he puts it, “Sixty-eight percent of respondents indicated their intention to vote in the next election and 46 percent feel that the condition of democracy had changed for the better since the 2015 elections.”

He stressed that the majority of respondents (59 percent) consider democracy to be more important than prosperity, compared to 37 percent who find prosperity to be more important to them.

This preference for democracy, he noted, came despite the crippling economic challenges facing the country, with 57 percent of respondents reporting that their personal economic situation had got worse over the past year.

He said: “The survey also reveals a widespread perception that corruption is declining, with 53 percent of respondents reporting that corruption has decreased in the past year.

“However, it is important to note that this perception is largely split between the North South lines, with more negative views noted in the South than in the North.”

On the methodology for the poll, Tomaszewski disclosed that total of 13,409 interviews were attempted with 7,901 interviews completed (response rate 58.92 percent). All respondents, he added, were aged 18 and older, while interviews were conducted by phone in five major languages spoken in Nigeria: English, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. Geographic quotas were assigned to ensure that every senatorial district was proportionately represented in the sample across all 36 Nigerian states.

The Center for Insights in Survey Research builds on IRI’s two decades of experience in public opinion research and leverages traditional public opinion research and analysis and new methods to help political parties become more responsive to voters, assist elected officials at all levels of government in improving services to citizens, and foster greater participation by underrepresented groups and by citizens generally in the political process.