INDEPENDENCE DAY POLL REPORT – In Commemoration Of Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day; Nigeria Is Better As A Nation – New Poll Reveals

Abuja, Nigeria.28th September 2021.  A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that about 8 in 10 Nigerians (76 percent) especially in the North-East (93 percent) zone believe that Nigeria is better as a nation, although a considerable proportion 24 percent especially from the South-East zone (62 percent) think otherwise.

Further findings showed that 77 per cent of the respondents disclosed that they are proud to be Nigerians. However, this stance varied across the geo-political zones, where the highest figure was recorded in the North-East (89 percent) and North-West zone (87 percent) and the lowest obtained in the South-East (48 percent) and South-West (67 percent) zones respectively.

Moreover, the greatest achievements of Nigeria at 61 years were perceived to be Unity (17 percent), Democracy (14 percent), Agricultural development (8 percent), and telecommunications (8 percent). On the contrary, it is instructive to note that 36 percent of respondents felt Nigeria has achieved nothing in 61 years of its independence and this assertion is predominant amongst Nigerians residing in the South-East (64 percent), South-West (50 percent), and North-Central (46 percent).

Finally, while there have been recent agitations for the breakup of Nigeria, poll results reveal clearly that the breakup agenda cannot be sustained as the overwhelming proportion of Nigerians are proud to be Nigerians. For sustenance of this embedded pride in the Nation, there is a need for government to create and nurture a culture of inclusive governance with a two-way symbiotic relationship between the government and the Nigerian citizens. This will significantly raise eagerness and participation towards governance, while enhancing the common pursuit of national development for the good of the Nigerian populace, thus automatically reinforcing the feeling of patriotism and pride in the nation. These are some of the key findings from the Independence Day Poll conducted in the week commencing September 6th, 2021.

Survey Background

For one, citizenship embodies the rights and duties of citizens, for another, citizenship is also ‘essential for cultivating civic virtues and democratic values.[1] Whereas there can be no citizens without states, ‘states without citizens’[2] exist where the state falters on almost all its salient responsibilities, forcing the ‘citizens’ to resort to alternative coping strategies, including resorting to self-help strategies. The denial of full citizenship to individuals or groups for whatever reasons as this scenario depicts, is usually accompanied by a drastic fall in citizens’ level of nationalism, participation, and trust in political institutions and political class.

Any citizen or group of citizens who feel genuinely alienated, marginalized, or discriminated against by the political system may not be sufficiently inspired to publicly proclaim or assert their citizenship of such a political system. For such a group of people, political independence counts for little since it could not offer them adequate protection in terms of rights, participation, and identity. There is a sense in which it can be argued that the nationalists who fought colonialism, nurtured expectations that political independence would offer a sustainable path to redemption, including the citizenship question. But as it has turned out, the initial hope of independence has been squandered under successive military regimes.

The struggle to reclaim hope led to what some have labelled the second independence movement[3], embodied by the largescale movements in the late 1980s and early 1990s for democratization. While the battle was partially won with the return to a democratic civil regime in 1999, the crises and contradictions of the democratization process have also dampened the high expectations that attended the return to democracy.

There is, therefore, a new phase of the independence movement concerned mainly with the pressure of good governance, one that can deliver the dividends of democracy to its citizens. It is only within such a democratic order[4], predicated upon popular legitimacy, transparency, accountability, and effective service delivery that the notions of citizenship and independence assume any useful meaning. Against the background, NOIPolls conducted a public opinion poll to assess the perceptions of Nigerians on citizenship, patriotism, and Nigeria’s independence, which are very critical to any nation-state project.

Survey Findings

Nationalism is an essential component of statehood. It generally represents the deep feelings of attachment and belonging in citizens that inspire supportive attitudes and behaviours towards nationalistic symbols. One way of expressing this is the pride of being a citizen of a country. When asked whether they were proud to be Nigerians or not, it is gratifying to note that an overwhelming majority answered in the affirmative. Overall, 77 percent of the respondents said they were proud to be Nigerians, while 23 percent felt otherwise. This is gratifying, especially in the face of ongoing agitation for secession and other critical challenges to the corporate existence of the country.

Further analysis by geographical revealed that the least expression of pride in being a Nigerian was seen in the South-East region (48 percent) followed by the South-West (67 percent), whereas the highest level of patriotism was witnessed in the North-East (89 percent) and North-West (87 percent).

Trend analysis revealed a consistent drop in the level of patriotism from 2013 to 2021 and an 8 percent decrease when current findings are compared with results obtained in 2019.

Subsequently, when asked what they love most about being a Nigeria, 35 percent mentioned cultural diversities, 24 percent said unity and 22 percent stated that they don’t love anything about being a Nigerian.

When respondents were asked about Nigeria’s founding fathers or past leaders that inspire them the most, the result showed that Umaru Ya’radua (21 percent) and Goodluck Jonathan (19 percent) were Nigeria’s past leaders that inspired Nigerians the most. Other names mentioned are Olusegun Obasanjo (8 percent), Late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (7 percent) and Late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (6 percent) amongst other founding fathers and past leaders. 

Furthermore, Security (40 percent), Economy (17 percent), and Job creation (12 percent) have been identified as the top three issues Nigeria as a nation needs to address within one year. Other mentions include corruption (7 percent), poverty (5 percent), electricity supply (5 percent), and education (4 percent) amongst other issues stated.

In the assessment of respondents, the greatest achievements of Nigeria in its 61 years of political independence since 1960 include Unity, democracy, agricultural development, and telecommunications. The chart below reveals the following proportion of respondents; 17 percent, 14 percent, 8 percent, and 8 percent opted for these accomplishments respectively. 

On the contrary, it is instructive to note that 36 percent of respondents felt Nigeria has achieved nothing in 61 years of its independence and this assertion is predominant amongst Nigerians residing in the South-East (64 percent), South-West (50 percent), and North-Central (46 percent).

When asked whether they feel they can and are free to live and do business in any part of Nigeria, the poll findings revealed that 53 percent of the respondents answered in the affirmative. However, it is worrisome to note that a sizeable number of the respondents (47 percent) thought otherwise.

Geopolitically, there are variations in being able to and free to live and do business in any part of Nigeria. Concerning those who said yes, which has nationwide support of 53 percent of the respondents, the South-South and the North-Central fared better than the national rating at 65 percent and 57 percent respectively. On the other hand, the North-East, North-West, South-East and South-West fell below the national score with 47 percent, 52 percent, 46 percent, and 49 percent of the respondents respectively.

When respondents were asked whether Nigeria is better as a nation or being divided, it is worthy to note that an overwhelming majority answered in the affirmative. Overall, 76 percent of the respondents said that Nigeria is better as a nation, while 24 percent felt otherwise. This is gratifying, especially in the face of ongoing agitation for secession and other critical challenges to the corporate existence of the country.

More findings across social categories revealed some variations in terms of gender, geographical locations, and age distribution. For instance, while the North-East region had more respondents who stated that Nigeria is better as a nation, the South-East zone had the lowest number of respondents who asserted this perspective.

Respondents were further probed, and the poll revealed that those who stated that Nigeria is better as a nation gave reasons such as ‘we can achieve more together’ (39 percent), ‘division will cause more harm’ (28 percent), ‘Nigeria is better as a nation ‘ (15 percent), and ‘we need restructuring not division’ (10 percent) amongst other reasons.

On the other hand, ‘too much sentiment and tribalism’ (36 percent), ‘some regions are being marginalized’ (32 percent), ‘division will bring peace’ (15 percent), and ‘bad government’ (9 percent) amongst other reasons.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the results have revealed that most Nigerians are proud to be Nigerians and a sizeable proportion (77 percent) of the respondents especially in the North-East (93 percent) zone believe that Nigeria is better as a nation. Therefore, for the sustenance of this embedded pride in the Nation, there is a need for government to create and nurture a culture of inclusive governance with a two-way symbiotic relationship between the government and the Nigerian citizens. This will significantly raise eagerness and participation towards governance, while enhancing the common pursuit of national development for the good of the Nigerian populace, thus automatically reinforcing the feeling of patriotism and pride in the nation.

Finally, more efforts should be made to foster a sense of national belonging, unity, and integration. As this poll reveals, responses tended to follow a certain geopolitical pattern that suggests a great deal of discontent across regions. Paying more attention to the ongoing debate about political restructuring is potentially one of the ways by which the problem can be addressed.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week commencing September 6th, 2021. It involved telephone interviews of a proportionate nationwide sample of 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical regions and 36 states and the FCT of the country. Interviews were conducted in 5 languages – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Pidgin English, and English. Although we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained were statistically precise – within a margin of error of plus or minus 4.65%; we recognize that the exclusive use of telephone polling has its limitation of excluding non-phone-owning Nigerians. Nonetheless, with the country’s teledensity put over 100 percent by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), we consider our telephone polling approach appropriate. Also, given the rigorous scientific process of randomization and stratification applied, we can confidently stand by the validity of our methodology and approach.

NOIPolls Limited, 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 public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as authors whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited, or published. NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect the 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 any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken because 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] Engin F. Isin, and Bryan S. Turner, ‘Investigating Citizenship: An Agenda for Citizenship Studies’, Citizenship Studies, 11: 1, 2007, p. 5.

[2] See John A. Ayoade, ‘Citizens without States: An Emerging African Phenomenon’, in D. Rothchild and N. Chazan, eds. The Precarious Balance: State and Society in Africa, Boulder, CO: Westview, pp. 100-118.

[3] J. Shola Omotola, ‘Independence Movements’, In Abiola Irele and Biodun Jeyifo, eds. Encyclopedia of African Thought, Vol. 1. UK: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 1-4.

[4] Adebayo Olukoshi, Democratic Governance and Accountability in Africa: In search of a workable framework, Upssala, SW: Discussion Paper 64, Nordic African Institute, 2014