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Poll: Despite economy downturn,  Buhari’s approval rating rises in April

Despite concerns from many Nigerians on President Mohammadu Buhari for ‘broken campaign promises,’ on fuel crisis and the economy, the president’s overall approval rating for the month of April rose from 31.2 per cent to 31.7 per cent, from 31.2 per cent, according to a new poll.

The monthly survey conducted by Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN), says while respondents gave slightly higher positive outlook on economy and jobs, 71 per cent of respondents wanted the government to provide investments in the agricultural sector.

A majority of 55 per cent approved of Buhari’s foreign trips, which the government says is meant to attract investments.

The positive approval rating is the first since January. GAIN started its poll in December, 2015, tracking performance of governments at all levels in Nigeria.

In earlier months, the poll found that majority of respondents blamed former President Goodluck Jonathan, not Buhari, for Nigeria’s poor economy.

In March, the poll said more respondents blamed Buhari for not turning the economy around.

“April has been an eventful month. Although the fuel scarcity problem has started to ease, the power sector continues to struggle, largely due to the vandalism of pipelines,” said GAIN, jointly coordinated by Malcolm Fabiyi, a former visiting professor at the Lagos Business School, and Adeleke Otunuga, a management consultant.

The poll said respondents rated the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, as top performing minister, replacing Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh who was at that spot in March.

Poll Results

Key highlights
High performance rating for the Buhari government inched higher to 37.1%

Majority (55%) approve of President Buhari’s foreign trips

71% of respondents want government to provide investments in the agricultural sector

Respondents give slightly higher positive outlook on economy and jobs

Major reasons for Nigerians’ concerns with the Buhari Government are Petroleum scarcity (71%), Economy (68%), Power (64%) and Broken campaign promises (57%)

Nigerian Army maintains status as the most respected National Institution

Nigerian presidency remains 3rd rated National institution, behind Army and EFCC

Lai Mohammed (Information) rated top performing minister; Ibe Kachikwu climbs back to second place

Anti-Corruption war falls below 50% priority level for the second consecutive month as Nigerians remain disappointed by lack of convictions

83% express dissatisfaction with Government’s handling of Fulani Herdsmen crisis

Summary
Although the fuel scarcity problem has started to ease, the power sector continues to struggle, largely due to the vandalism of pipelines. As for the anticorruption war, April was another month of extended legal maneuverings in the courts and at the CCB tribunal, leaving Nigerians increasingly frustrated about the lack of results and convictions. President Buhari was able to chalk up some positive outcomes from his foreign travels, with a reported $6 Billion in investment commitments from his China visit. The month of April also saw the breaking of sensational news reports about a $115 million slush fund allegedly provided by the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke to rig the 2015 elections. Several Banking Chiefs were implicated in the laundering of the funds in the banking system. There was also a protracted budget crisis between the executive and legislative arms of government. All of these realities are reflected in the April polls.

Slight Uptick in Ratings for Buhari Government

As with previous polls, we provided respondents with a 5 point-scale response to this question. A positive performance rating in our terminology refers only to those respondents that reported either an “Excellent” or “Good” rating. Negative ratings comprises of respondents that selected “Poor” or “Very Poor” rating selections.
High approval ratings – interpreted as the combination of Excellent (16.9%) and Good (20.2%) ratings rose from 31.2% in March compared to 37.1% in the April poll. Overall, the number of Nigerians giving President Buhari approval ratings of Excellent (16.9%), Good (20.2%) or Average (13.8%) increased from 44.6% in March to 50.9% in April.

Approval Ratings Confirmed by Simple Yes/No Methodology

For the second month running, we posed a question that solicited a simple “Yes/No” response from respondents on the overall approval of the job that the Buhari government was doing. Such binary options compel respondents who are in the “Average” portion of a 5-point scale to select one of the binary options. 54% of respondents gave the President a “Yes” rating compared to 47% in March.
As was expected, there was strong correspondence between the respondents who rated the performance of the Buhari government as Excellent, Good or Average on the five option performance rating question (50.9%) and those who gave a positive approval rating (54%) on the binary scale, “Yes/No” job approval question.
Respondents & Buhari Voters Give Reasons for Low Approval of Buhari Government

In order to understand the major reasons for respondents’ disapproval of the Buhari government, we provided eight (8) of the most commonly expressed criticisms of the Buhari government to respondents. Only respondents who had provided a rating of “No” when asked whether they approved of the job the President was doing were advanced to this question. Respondents were required to select as many of the options as they believed to be relevant. The disapproval reasons covered topics such as broken campaign promises, perceptions of religious insensitivity, slow pace of progress in securing convictions in the anti-corruption war, availability of petroleum products, power supply, security, economy, sectional preferences, etc.

The major reasons for respondents’ disapproval included the perceived worsening of economic conditions, worsening power situation, availability of petroleum products and favoritism to certain parts of the country.
Nigerians Speak – Reasons for Disapproval of Buhari Government

Respondents were asked to provide written comments on two questions. The first set of written comments was open to all respondents on a question that required that they provide a ranking of priorities for the government. The second set of comments was limited to respondents who expressed disapproval of the Buhari government (46%). Both sets of comments were then combined and used to generate a word cloud.
The word cloud showed that the dominant themes for respondents were subjects like corruption, Fulani herdsmen attacks and the economy.

Word Cloud: Corruption, Fulani Herdsmen, Economy are Key Terms Used by Respondents
Security, Anticorruption, Power and the Economy remain the priority areas

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.
Under the “High” ranking response, security (Boko Haram Crisis) maintained its rating as the most important area of concern and/or interest by 54% of Nigerians. The top five (5) rated areas overall were Security (54%), Anti-Corruption (45%), Economy & Jobs (41%), Power (40%), and Education (36%).
For the second consecutive month, Anti-corruption fell below a “High” priority rating of 50%.
Anticorruption war maintains support, but concerns grow over abuse of rule of law

Support for the anti-corruption war ticked upwards slightly to 47.4% in April from 44% in March.   There was a slight decrease in the number of respondents expressing concern about the potential abuse of the rule of law from 38.4% in the March poll to 33% in April.
The number of Nigerians indicating that the anticorruption war targets the President’s political enemies decreased slightly from 35.1% in March to 31.7%. A smaller percentage of respondents (28.6%) indicated that they believed that the anticorruption war targeted mostly members of the opposition PDP in April, compared to 30.5% in the March poll.
Anticorruption and Security are the only bright spots for the Buhari Government

The government received low ratings from majority of respondents in seven of the nine areas surveyed. The worst ranked areas (Low ranking) were Power (72%), Availability of Petroleum Products (71%), Economy & Jobs (71%), Housing (70%), Transportation (62%), Education (60%) and Healthcare (58%).
Only two areas were above 50% in positive ratings when “High” and “Medium” ratings are combined, and these are Security (74%) and Anticorruption (69%).
Availability of Petroleum Products and Power Maintain Low Ratings

March was an especially difficult month for the Power Sector, with the incidence of zero power generation for a couple of hours on March 31st. Petrol scarcity also bit hardest in March. These resulted in significant ratings tumbles for these two areas in March.
There was a slight recovery in ratings for the availability of petroleum products, as the disapproval levels decreased from 83% in the March poll to 71% in April. Power remained at low ratings of 72% in the April poll.
Respondents Split on Responsibility for Economy

In April, 34% of respondents held the former Jonathan government “completely” responsible for the current state of the economy, while 33% thought the Buhari government was completely responsible for the economy. This marks a departure from the previous two months (February and March) when a majority of respondents expressed the view that the Buhari government was completely responsible for the state of the economy.
Since the difference between the number of respondents indicating that either Buhari or Jonathan are responsible for the economy (± 1%) is well within the polling margin of error (±4%), no major conclusions can be reached on the issue of whether more or less respondents holds either government completely responsible for the economy.
Budget Crisis and Corruption Revelations Factor Into Respondents’ Views on Economy

When we reviewed the month – to month variation in the responses on where complete responsibility for the poor state of Nigerian economy lies, we noted two major changes. These were: a) significant reduction in the percentage of respondents holding President Buhari responsible (8% reduction), and b) an even bigger increase in the percentage of respondents holding the National Assembly responsible for the state of the economy (13% increase).
While it is not clear what the exact reasons are for these changes, we note two points: First, the budgetary crisis that played out very publicly in April made Nigerians more aware of the role that the National Assembly plays in the fiscal process, hence the allocation of more responsibility to that arm of government. Secondly, public sentiments about the impact of previous governments on current economic outcomes tend to increase when information is made available on misdeeds from the past administration. April saw the release of copious information on slush funds for electoral rigging allegedly operated by Diezani Alison – Madueke, at the behest of the Jonathan administration. The May poll results will provide us with some greater clarity about whether these observed changes are a passing fad.
Many Remain Troubled by the Economy, However Optimism about the Future Ticks up Slightly

Concerns about the economy decreased slightly from 51.9% in March to 47% in April, while optimism about the economy ticked up slightly from 24% in March to 27.9% in April. 23.3% of respondents indicated that they see encouraging signs for jobs and employment, up from 19.4% in March. 34.7% are of the view that nothing is being done by the government to create jobs, down from 36.5% in March. 36.9% of respondents indicated that they feel positive about the future, slightly up from 34.4% in March. Overall, respondents had a slightly more positive outlook in April than in March.
Lai takes Pole position in Ratings, Kachikwu settles into second place

Lai Mohammed was the top rated Minister in April. Ibe Kachikwu (Petroleum) climbed back up to second place after falling to fourth place in March. Audu Ogbeh (Agriculture) was the third ranked Minister, while Adebayo Shittu (Communication) placed fourth. In subsequent polls, respondents may be asked to state reasons for voting their ministers of choice.
Army maintains its position as the most respected national institution (55%)

As with our previous poll, Respondents were asked to rate the two (2) major political parties and ten (10) major governmental institutions, i.e., the Presidency, Senate, House of Representatives, Army, Police, Judiciary, the Central Bank and the three anti-corruption organs – EFCC, ICPC and CCB.
We consider only “Very High” and “High” ratings in determining the comparative rankings for the various institutions. The Nigerian Army retained its ranking as the most highly rated governmental institution, with 55% of respondents rating it as high or very high – an improvement over the 53% rating in March. The EFCC ranked second with 37% of respondents giving it high or very high ratings (compared to 33% in March). The Presidency ranked third with 34% ratings, an improvement over the 29% ratings from the March poll. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), which has been in the news lately, due to the trial of Senator Bukola Saraki ranked fourth with 26%. The Nigerian Senate and House of Reps ranked 11th and 10th with 7% and 11% high approval ratings respectively.
The APC was the highest ranked political party, with 17% high approval ratings compared to the PDP’s 7%.
Buhari Government Maintains High Scores for Handling of Boko Haram Crisis

In April, 75% of respondents gave the Buhari government high ratings (very good and good) for its handling of the Boko Haram crisis, up slightly from 72% in March. Respondents gave very low ratings for the government’s handling of the Biafra agitation (42%), Shiite – Military clashes (40%) and Fulani Herdsmen attacks (17%).
Majority Continue to Blast Buhari Government’s Handling of Fulani Herdsmen attacks

83% of respondents rated the government’s handling of the Fulani herdsmen crisis as “Poor” or “Very Poor”. We note that since February 2016, more than 80% of respondents have consistently expressed significant disapproval of the Buhari government’s handling of the Fulani Herdsmen crisis. We remain of the view that urgent measures are required to address the Fulani herdsmen crisis.
Majority Approve of Buhari’s Foreign Trips

President Buhari’s foreign trips, and their value, has been a subject of intense debate. We put this question to respondents for the first time. A slight majority of Nigerians (55%) indicated their approval of the President’s foreign trips. We note that the Presidency vigorously touted the $6 Billion investment commitments that it secured from the China visit in April.
Majority Recommend Agricultural Sector for Investment

We asked respondents to provide their views on which sectors should be targeted with investments by government. 39% of respondents selected the agricultural sector as their top choice, while 71% of respondents included the agricultural sector amongst their top three selections.
Disaffection with Major Political Parties Grows

About 68% of respondents indicated that they did not belong to any political party. As with our previous polls, about three times more respondents indicated that they were supporters of the APC (24.4%) compared to the PDP (8.1%).

 

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