Although steeped in recession with widening unemployment rate, a survey released on Monday shows that more Nigerians, while remaining upbeat about the possible improvement in the economy over the next year, say poverty remains a major issue in need of urgent government attention.
The survey by new Pew Research Centre, a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that 93 per cent of the 3,330 respondents surveyed between March 29 and July 9, 2016 agree, particularly in the areas of power electric power supply and fuel scarcity, which have manifested in the form of crime, corruption in government and fewer job opportunities.
“Compared with 2015, a larger share of the Nigerian public now sees the energy supply, food shortages and a lack of clean drinking water as very big problems (at least a 10-percentage-point increase). Notably, fewer today (43%) say a lack of citizen participation in politics is a major concern than said the same in 2015 (54 per cent).”
According to the report co-authored by Richard Wike (Director, Global Attitudes Research); Katie Simmons (Associate Director, Research); Margaret Vice; and Caldwell Bishop, these concerns have been overtaken by worries over activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram that has held the nation by the jugular.
The Boko Haram insurgency was a key issue in the 2015 presidential election, as it was blamed for food shortages facing parts of the country, with the eventual winner, Muhammadu Buhari vowing to defeat the organization.
Today, at least 81 per cent of Nigerians and 91 per cent of Muslims acknowledge the progress being made against Boko Haram, compared with 69 per cent of urban Nigerians and 62 per cent of Christians in 2015.
Also, 52 per cent of respondents expect Nigeria’s economy to improve, more than double the 23 per cent that felt so in 2013.
“Muslims and Christians are divided on the gravity of various issues facing Nigeria. The largest difference between these two groups is on the wealth gap, with 78 per cent of Christians saying the gap between rich and poor is a very big problem, a full 13 points higher than among Muslims.”
The survey, which focused on respondents across three major African economies of Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, noted however that “Nigerians are more positive about their personal economic circumstances than those of the country overall,” with over 53 per cent describing this as somewhat good.
“Nigerians are also very optimistic about their personal economic future. More than nine in 10 (93 per cent) expect their personal finances to improve over the next year, up from roughly three-quarters (77 per cent) in 2013, the last time the question was asked.
“The degree of optimism in particular has improved since 2013, when about four-in-ten (39 per cent) said their personal economic situation would improve a lot, compared with 68 per cent who say the same in 2016.
“Nigerians with lower incomes are generally more positive and optimistic about the economy than those with higher incomes.2 Four-in-ten lower-income adults say that the economy is good, compared with just 23 per cent of wealthier adults. Further, a majority of lower-income Nigerians (61 per cent) expect the economy to improve a lot over the next year, compared with 47 per cent of Nigerians with higher incomes,” according to the report.