Dr. Richard Wike, Director, Global Attitudes Research, Pew Research Centre, Washington DC presented his findings on 'Public opinion on key issues in Nigeria, South Africa & Kenya'. The presentation was hosted by Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD), in Abuja. I am particularly interested in the findings on Nigeria. The research was conducted in 2015...
The following are the key findings:
*Negative economic ratings surge in Nigeria.
*Nigerians are optimistic about the next 12 months.
*Africans in Nigeria/Kenya/South Africa are optimistic about their long term economic future.
*Africans support involvement in the global economic system.
*Most Nigerians say young people should remain in their home country.
*In Nigeria, poverty is the top domestic concern.
*Nigerians see food supply as top priority for the country.
*Lack of 'connections' seen as major obstacle to employment.
*Nigerian government seen as making progress against BH.
*Nigerians optimistic about making progress on key issues - healthcare/education/poverty/equal rights for men & women/terrorism/corruption in government.
*Nigerians say America & China are the examples of model economies in the world.
*Most Nigerians believe ordinary citizens can influence government.
*Nigerians say government is run for the benefit of a few.
*Political participation in Nigeria relatively high - voting/attendance at political rallies.
*There's a high level of political engagement among African publics.
*In Nigeria, more men report that they are politically active.
Critique of the findings:
The euphoria of the result of the 2015 general elections might have led to the 'artificial optimism' about the future of the country. People have now realised that 'fighting corruption' is not equivalent to engendering a bouyant economy. An incumbent President was defeated by the candidate of the opposition Party and the former conceded. This is unprecedented in Nigeria's history...hence the optimism of Nigerians at the time the research was conducted. If the same research is embarked upon now, the scenario may change, because reality has set in.
*Most young people would rather leave Nigeria now if they had the opportunity because of the state of the economy and the very high level of unemployment.
*Support for involvement in the global economy by Nigerians is no longer as total. Nigerians are still interrogating involvement in the EPA and similar Agreements. Nigerians are more weary than ever before about whatever they perceive as 'unequal partnership'.
*In addition to poverty, terrorism and unemployment should be part of the top domestic concerns.
*Nigerians may no longer be that optimistic about making progress on issues - healthcare/education/poverty etc. The budgetary allocation for many of these critical sectors, especially healthcare and education etc, has been on the downward trend with dire consequences for the poor.
*I am not sure most Nigerians believe they can influence government. Maybe through front line NGOs, but as individuals?...
*Is political participation in Nigeria relatively high? Maybe towards and during the 2015 elections when citizens were fed up with the incumbent regime. The level of political participation in Nigeria is generally low. Citizens are apathetic about politics because they are hungry and believe their votes may not count.
*In the follow-up research by the Pew Research Centre, it may be worthwhile to embark on gender dis-aggregation as regards political participation. This would enable the researchers further interrogate the assertion that 'Nigerian men are more likely to report being politically active'.
*The use of technology in Nigeria - in particular, the introduction of the use of the 'card reader' for the first time in the 2015 elections & the use of 'traditional' and 'new' media need to be interrogated in follow-up research. To be sure, the use of the card reader was innovative. Many feel it helps to forestall rigging in elections, but public opinion on the issue has not been ascertained. Similarly, the introduction of the GSM in 2000 seems to have shaped public opinion. What about the influence of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snap-chat, blogging, etc. How have all these influenced public opinion?
I hope Dr. Richard Wike & the Pew Research Centre would find the foregoing critique useful in their future research. The website of Pew Research Centre is www.pewresearch.org
Photo below L-R: Dr. Richard Wike, Director, Global Attitudes Research, Pew Research Centre, Washington DC & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa