Nigerians express optimism at Independence celebration despite economic recession

Abuja, Nigeria. October 4th, 2016 – The yearly Independence Day Special Edition Poll results released by NOIPolls Limited have revealed that a majority of Nigerians (68 percent) believe Nigeria’s Independence is worth celebrating in spite of the economic recession. However, it should be noted that this is a decline of 16 percentage points from last year’s value, indicating that the economic recession may be taking its toll on the level of patriotism of some Nigerians.

More findings revealed that of those who believe Nigeria’s Independence is worth celebrating (despite the current economic challenges facing the nation), a significant proportion (25 percent) stated that Independence Day is worth celebrating because it is Nigeria’s day of independence and some (13 percent) also asserted that it marks the day Nigeria was liberated from colonial rule amongst other affirmative reasons. In addition, many Nigerians reported that they love being Nigerians mostly because of the perceived peace and unity that exist in the country and residents in the North-East region accounted for the largest proportion of respondents who made this assertion. This may be a reflection of the gains in security made by the Nigerian military forces and the Multi-National Joint Task Force in the region.

Furthermore, the poll results revealed that most Nigerians consider the economy as a high priority issue which the nation should confront within the next one year. This is evident as Nigeria’s economy has slipped into recession with a 2.06 percent contract in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2016. The National Bureau of Statistics reported that the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker, while lower oil prices led to diminished revenuee. Poll results show that 41 percent of Nigerians who do not think Nigeria's Independence is worth celebrating (32 percent) indicated that it is because people are suffering. These are some of the key findings from the Independence Day Poll conducted by NOIPolls in the week of September 26th 2016.

Brief Background

On 1st October 1960, Nigeria became self-governing from British colonial rule and was administered at the center by the Federal government and three regional Governments in the East, West and North of the country. Till date, 1st October has been commemorated annually to mark the independence of a people who had been under decades of colonial rule.[1]

Every year, the day is marked with ceremonious parades, military processions, and a celebration of Nigeria's founding fathers who played vital roles in the struggle for the country’s independence. The day is also usually marked by various media debates on the issues of true federalism, the nation's nascent democracy, discussions on development, quality of leadership, economic indices etc. Against this background, NOIPolls conducted its fifth yearly Independence poll to seek the perceptions of Nigerians regarding the Nigerian Independence, their level of Patriotism, and their perception of the nation’s trajectory.

Survey Findings

Nigeria celebrated her 56th anniversary as an independent nation on the 1st of October 2016. Though some Nigerians expressed mixed feelings on whether the day is worth commemorating, a larger proportion of Nigerians (68 percent) amidst the current economic recession indicated that the day is worth celebrating. Residents from the North-East zone accounted for the highest proportion of residents by geo-political zone who affirmed this. On the other hand, 49 percent of residents in the South-East zone represent the largest proportion of Nigerians who think otherwise. 

Nigerians who responded affirmatively further stated reasons for their assertion. The top 3 reasons from the survey were: because its ‘Nigeria’s day of independence’ (25 percent), it marks the day ‘Nigeria was liberated from colonial rule’ (13 percent), and ‘it is a day of remembrance’ (12 percent), amongst other affirmative reasons. Conversely, respondents who think that the Independence Day is not worth celebrating believe that ‘Nigerians are suffering’ (41 percent), ‘the economy is declining’ (20 percent) and that the nation is still backwards in terms of development (9 percent), among others.

Subsequently, Nigerians were assessed on what they love most about being Nigerians and 18 percent of the respondents stated that it is because of the perceived ‘peace and unity’ that exists in the country, and residents from the North-East zone had the largest proportion of residents who made this assertion. 15 percent mentioned because ‘I was born Nigerian’ whereas, 9 percent disclosed it is because of her ‘cultural diversity’ amongst other thoughts. This is true considering Nigeria's rich and varied cultural heritage derived from the mixture of its different ethnic groups with over 521 languages and over 1150 dialects.

To gauge the perceptions of Nigerians on the most important issues Nigeria should confront as a nation, the survey results revealed that a significant proportion of Nigerians consider the ‘economy’ (42 percent) as a top priority issue Nigeria as a nation should address within the next one year. This could be attributed to the current economic recession the country is facing at the moment though efforts are being made to ensure that the nation’s economy bounces back and shows positive GDP growth. This is followed by ‘job creation’ (13 percent) and ‘agriculture’ (10 percent) amongst other significant issues to be addressed. 

Trend analysis revealed that ‘corruption and security’ (22 percent each) were considered the most important issues to be addressed in 2015. In 2014, ‘security’ (32 percent) was at its peak and that was when over 200 school girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok town of Borno state as well as other terror activities that were perpetrated by insurgency groups in the North-East region.

As controversies rage over the proposed disposal of national assets to combat the economic recession, Nigerians’ level of awareness on the issue was assessed. Findings revealed that 68 percent of Nigerians were aware of the proposed sale of some National assets. Irrespective of their response to the proposed sale of these assets, a vast majority of respondents (76 percent) indicated that they do not support the proposed sale of some national assets. This finding supports the recommendation of the federal lawmakers in the Nigerian Senate last week opposing the sale of nation’s assets. In addition, slightly more than 9 in 10 Nigerians (91 percent) aged 61 years and above did not support the proposed sales of some national assets.

The proposed sale of national assets has drawn diverse reactions, with a significant proportion of the respondents (31 percent) who were against the decision stating that ‘it is not a good time’ to sell these assets, some say ‘it will worsen the current economic condition’ (18 percent) whereas, 16 percent asserted that ‘they are national heritage’ and as such did not support the sales of these assets. Others said ‘they will be bought by corrupt politicians’ (11 percent), more hardship (10 percent) and that ‘it is for the selfish interest of politicians (10 percent) amongst other reasons.

However, 32 percent of Nigerians pledged their support for the sales of national assets saying ‘it will help resolve the current economic problem’ facing the country and this was followed by those who think it will foster national development (25 percent) and that it will help alleviate poverty (16 percent) among other perceived positive reasons.

In conclusion, the poll has shown that despite current economic recession, most Nigerians (68 percent) believed that the 56th Independence Day celebration is worth celebrating, mostly because it is ‘Nigeria’s day of independence’ and that it marks the day ‘Nigeria was liberated from colonial rule’. Also, responses across the country revealed that a larger proportion of Nigerians (18 percent) are happy as citizens because of the perceived peace and unity that exist in the country. In addition to this, the highest proportion of those surveyed considered the economy as a high priority concern Nigeria should tackle as a nation.

Lastly, a vast majority of Nigerians (76 percent) do not support the proposed sale of some of the country’s national assets as a way of boosting the economy. Most of the respondents argued that ‘it is not a good time’ (31 percent), while some say ‘it will worsen the current economic situation’ (18 percent).

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week of September 26th 2016. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. 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 Limited is the No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1]www.nigeriaembassyusa.org/index.php?page=nigeria-past-present-and-future