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Latest Poll: Buhari’s Approval Rating Nose Dives

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval rating has slipped further from 32.8% in February to 31.2% in March, amid worsening economic crisis and crippling fuel scarcity, according to a new poll.

The monthly poll by Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria, GAIN, says more Nigerians again scored Mr. Buhari low on his administration’s handling of the economy, power and fuel shortage.

It is the second time the president’s rating dropped since GAIN in December started monthly tracking of performance of governments at all levels in Nigeria.

In earlier months, the poll found that majority of respondents did not blame President Buhari for Nigeria’s economic troubles. They blamed former President Goodluck Jonathan instead.

In January, the president’s approval rating stood at 63.4%.

The trend however shifted significantly in February as the nation’s economic crisis bit harder.

In March, which is the latest result, the poll said more Nigerians continued to blame Mr. Buhari— not Mr. Jonathan— for the nation’s economic woes.

The falling rating was primarily due to petroleum scarcity, bad economy, power outage, and broken campaign promises, said the poll.

“A crippling fuel scarcity continued to affect individuals and business across the country, and had a concomitant effect on transportation and business costs,” said Malcolm Fabiyi, one of the poll’s coordinators, who previously served as a visiting professor at the Lagos Business School.

The president scored low on economy, power, and rule of law.

The poll also found that Nigerians voted the Agriculture Minister, Audu Agbeh, as best performing minister.

Ibeh Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum, who was voted best in February, slipped to third position, as a result of the fuel crisis, and his remarks that he was not a magician to end the scarcity.

The poll also reported lower rating for the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption war, with Nigerians disappointed by slow pace of prosecution and lack of convictions. There were also increased concerns about abuse of rule of law in anti-corruption fight.

The March GAIN survey was administered using electronic media. Eight hundred and seventy six (876) complete responses were received. The survey results have a 95% confidence level and ± 4% margin of error, according to the coordinators.

Poll results

Key highlights

  • Performance rating for the Buhari government remains low at 31.2%
  • Top four reasons for Buhari government’s low ratings in March are Petroleum scarcity (71%), Economy (68%), Power (64%) and broken campaign promises (57%)
  • Majority of Nigerians continue to hold Buhari responsible for the economy
  • Nigerian Army extends status as the most respected National Institution
  • Nigerian presidency is 3rd rated National institution, behind Army and EFCC
  • Audu Ogbeh (Agriculture) rated top performing minister; Fuel Scarcity and “not a magician” statement tanks Kachikwu in ratings
  • Anti-Corruption war drops below 50% as high priority area for the first time – Nigerians disappointed by slow pace of prosecution & lack of convictions
  • Concerns linger about abuse of rule of law in anti-corruption fight (38%)
  • 85% express dissatisfaction with Government’s handling of Fulani Herdsmen crisis

Summary

March was a very tough month for Nigerians, and a terrible one for the Buhari government. A crippling fuel scarcity continued to affect individuals and business across the country, and had a concomitant effect on transportation and business costs. The power sector continued to struggle, and for a brief period in March, there was zero power generation from the public power system. The Minister of State for Petroleum reminded Nigerians that he was “not a magician,” triggering a firestorm of criticism within the ruling APC government and across Nigeria. As for the anticorruption war – March was another month of legal maneuverings in the courts, leaving Nigerians frustrated about the lack of results and convictions. All of these realities are reflected in the March polls.

Low Performance Ratings Become the New Normal for Buhari Government

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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. A negative rating comprises of those individuals that reported a “Poor” or “Very Poor” rating.

High approval ratings – interpreted as the combination of Excellent (15.1%) and Good (16.1%) ratings declined slightly to 31.2% in March compared to 32.8% in the February poll. Overall, the number of Nigerians giving President Buhari approval ratings of Excellent (15.1%), Good (16.1%) or Average (13.4%) reduced from 50.4% in the February polls to 44.6% in March.

 Low Approval Ratings Confirmed by Simple Yes/No Methodology

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We introduced a new question in the March poll that solicited a simple Yes/No two-scale response from respondents on the overall performance of the Buhari government. Since we can safely assume that respondents who gave “Excellent” or “Good” ratings in the performance rating question would likely also answer “Yes” in terms of their overall approval of the government, this newly introduced question compels respondents who gave an ”Average” rating in the 5 point scale performance rating question to select a single overall approval choice.

As would be 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 (44.6%) and those who gave a positive approval rating (47%) on the 2 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. 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.

Respondents were offered the choice to indicate whether they had voted for President Buhari in the 2015 elections. The responses of those who voted for Buhari in 2015 were compared to the general respondent population. There was broad agreement between the responses from both groups, indicating that criticism of the performance of the Buhari government is not limited to opposition elements or those who did not vote for him in 2015.