Mixed Reaction Trails GAIN’s Poll On Buhari | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Mixed Reaction Trails GAIN’s Poll On Buhari

Posted: Mar 15, 2016 at 12:20 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos

For President Muhammadu Buhari, this is not the best of time as the nine months administration came under a poor rating by an independent image rating poll . In its just released February rating of the President, the Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), came out with a stunning revelation. The result of its latest national survey shows that for the first time since President Muhammadu Buhari mounted the saddle of leadership on May 29, 2015, his public image has dropped. The survey, according to GAIN, showed that the president no longer enjoys the popularity as he did in the recent past. In the same way, the survey indicated also that Nigerians’ support for the All Progressives Congress (APC), the President’s party, has also dropped. Malcolm Fabiyi, the poll coordinator in releasing the report, explained that a total of 757 complete responses were received during the survey, administered through electronic media between February 22 and 29, this year. Fabiyi, a former Visiting Professor at the Lagos Business School, said the result of the survey has a four per cent margin of error at 95 per cent confidence level, even as he explained further that   President Buhari’s approval rating dropped from 63.4 per cent in January to 32.8 per cent. He also revealed that the survey indicated that more Nigerians now hold Buhari, rather than the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, as being responsible for the present poor state of the nation’s economy.

According to the survey, Buhari scored low in area of provision of employment,  economy, power, and rule of law, even as much as 79 per cent of respondents gave the government poor rating over how the recurring clashes between herdsmen and farmers were poorly handled. This is the sharpest decline in the month-to-month approval ratings for the president by GAIN. Indeed high approval ratings dropped from 63.4 per cent in January to 32.8 per cent in the February poll.  According to Fabiyi,“Overall, a slight majority of Nigerians (50.4 per cent) gave the Buhari administration average (17.6 per cent) or high approval ratings (32.8 per cent). As with previous polls, 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.”

Also, the 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.
The study indicated that under the “High” ranking response, security (Boko Haram crisis) was rated as the most important area of concern and/or interest by 55% of Nigerians, continuing the trend from the January poll, while the top 5 rated areas overall were Security (55%), Anti-Corruption (51%), Power (51%), Economy & Jobs (50%) and Education (45%).
According to the report, support for the anti-corruption war  dropped from about 76% in the January poll, to just under 45% in the February poll and there was an increase in the number of Nigerians that are critical of the way the war is being prosecuted.
The poll showed that in February, more Nigerians indicated that the anti-corruption war targets Buhari’s political opponents (34.4% in February vs. 15.5% in January) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members (33.1% in February vs. 16.8% in January).
There was also concern over the possible abuse of the rule of law in the prosecution of graft cases, which increased from 21.5% in the January poll to 35.3% in February.
However, the poll shows that the anti-corruption crusade and security still remain the bright side of the administration, as the respondent scored the government low on economy, housing, healthcare, education and power.
But, the government received a bashing in six of the nine areas surveyed, with the worst rating going to Housing (74%), Economy and Jobs (73%), Healthcare (62%), Transportation (62%), Power (59%) and Education (58%), even as Anticorruption (75%), Security (70%) and Availability of Petroleum Products (60%)were the three highest ratings.
The survey also showed that most Nigerians (62.6% are not favourably disposed towards devaluation of the nation’s currency. This is as most economists have indicated that the administration’s defence of the Naira cannot be sustained in the long run,” given the lack of sufficient reserves to offset the dollar deficit that has led to downward pressures on the value of the Naira.
Commenting on the poll, former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Barrister
Monday Onyekachi Ubani, said  it was wrong for people to rate Buhari low in his performance, when the 2016 budget has not been passed. He said people should wait until after the budget has been passed before doing such rating. According to him, “Hopefully, before the end of March, the budget will be passed. May be, after a year that the budget has been passed, and then one can assess his performance.” Ubani stressed that Buhari took over the mantle of leadership, when the oil price had crashed badly, adding Nigeria runs a mono economy, with oil accounting for about 90 per cent of the country’s revenue. He therefore maintained that it will be unfair to judge the government now that the country’s earning from oil has dwindled.

The former NBA chief maintained that from the evidence before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the Jonathan administration looted the nation’s treasury, hence the Buhari government met nothing to work with.  Ubani, however, said that one would have expected Buhari to act on the reduction of the cost of governance, wondering why his government is still keeping about 10 or 11 presidential aircrafts, which cost huge sums of money to maintain. “This is a government that needs to do a lot in terms of infrastructure. The government should also have done something about the Fulani herdsman, especially the Agatu killings in Benue State. He has tried in dealing a blow to the Boko Haram,” he added.

However,  Dr. Peter Enesi, a Public Policy Analyst and President of Conflict Resolution Centre, Lagos, on his own,  maintained that he was not surprised for the low rating of  President Buhari  this time around, as he has been accused of being slow, while he is not running an all-inclusive government.
He lamented that at the middle of March, the nation’s budget is yet to be passed, adding that although the administration has been fighting corruption, he should not do it in a way that it seems he is neglecting other sectors.
Dr. Enesi also picked hole in the fiscal policy of the Federal Government, wondering if it is not really in parallel with the stand of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which he added, should not be so.
He stressed that presently Nigerians are starving, even as there is no money in circulation adding that “with all these, there is no way President Buhari’s image will not go down. “If things continue this way, President Buhari’s image will go down the more in two months time. The National Assembly should pass the 2016 budget. I do not think the people who conducted that poll are biased”.