March 24, 2015

6 facts about public opinion in Nigeria before election day

A long-delayed election will be taking place in Nigeria this weekend, as the original date was put off due to security concerns relating to the continued fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress opposition party, who briefly ruled the country in the 1980s after a military coup, will attempt to defeat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, of the People’s Democratic Party.

In recent months, Boko Haram has stepped up its campaign in Nigeria’s northeast, and violence has spread to neighboring countries. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and is a major oil producer, so in its most important election since democratic rule was restored in 1999, the world will anxiously await the results.

With so much on the line, here’s what Nigerians had to say about the state of their country when we surveyed them in spring 2014:

1Nigerians detest Boko Haram. Overall, 82% of Nigerians have an unfavorable view of Boko Haram, with 79% holding a very unfavorable view. This distaste is shared by Christians and Muslims alike (Nigeria is about half Christian and half Muslim, according to the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project).

2Public Opinion in NigeriaAbout seven-in-ten Nigerians (72%) are worried about Islamic extremism in their country. And when asked to name the world’s greatest danger, a 38% plurality say that religious and ethnic hatred is the top threat.

3In terms of everyday worries, more than eight-in-ten Nigerians say crime (88%) and corruption (86%) are very big problems in their country. Nigerians are also worried about electricity shortages.

4Nigerians have less regard for their national government compared with other institutions tested. No wonder an Afrobarometer survey from December 2014 found that 74% of Nigerians say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

5A majority of Nigerians (66%) say most government officials do not care about what ordinary people think, and Afrobarometer found that 50% are very or somewhat concerned about political intimidation or violence at the polls, up from 34% in 2012.

6Despite concerns about their government and institutions, Nigerians remain politically engaged. Seven-in-ten Nigerian adults have voted in an election, and many see voting and attending campaign events as effective ways to influence government. To that end, a recent International Foundation for Electoral Systems poll found that 79% of Nigerians were either very (61%) or somewhat (18%) likely to vote in the presidential election.

The outcome of the presidential election is considered too close to call, and the potential looms for a violent lead-up to Election Day (and the outside possibility of a runoff). Whoever triumphs, public opinion shows that Nigerians recognize the wide array of problems facing their country and the difficulty the next leader will have in addressing them all.

This is an update of a blog post originally published Feb. 9, 2015.

Topics: Terrorism, International Governments and Institutions, Sub-Saharan Africa, World Elections

  1. Photo of Jacob Poushter

    is a senior researcher focusing on global attitudes at Pew Research Center.


  1. Nigerian . . .2 years ago

    Nigeria’s current president waited till elections to tackle Boko Haram, half a decade later, after 3m people have been displaced or killed: shouldn’t he be indicted by the ICC . . .

    1. David Peters2 years ago

      No, my dear friend, the President do not have any basis to face the ICC, rather it is the Boko Haram leaders and group members that deserve such reference. Please check the records, history, patterns, timings and the commencement of this group and groups alike in Africa, or Middle East. Can you name one country where they have been contained easily, the response is No. Is it in Somalia / Kenya ?, Is it Pakistan ?, Is it Afghanistan ?, Is it in Iraq ?, Is it in Syria ?, Is it in Yemen ?, Is it in Libya ?, Is it in Algeria ?, Is it in Tunisia ?, etc, etc…?. Bear in mind, the true war is absolutely against ideology and inferiority complex, Nigeria is just another and a new battle ground for this ideology. It is not the disguise of poverty or education ! Read my lips… It is not a case of a political opposition and opponents against the government, which are often called rebels over time. This group is entirely against the believe of Nigerians as against theirs, they are against the people of Nigeria and the region states ( as you now know – Cameron, Chad, Niger, etc, etc ).

  2. Olusoga Owoeye2 years ago

    The Change Movement is backed by science.