- The question if Nigeria is truly one has been brought to the fore again
- A recent poll result shows the issues that divide the nation are still very much prominent
- It remains to be seen what this portends for Africa's most populated country
The International Republican Institute (IRI) today, June 28, released the poll results carried out in Nigeria which shows that the country is polarized between North and South.
The survey was conducted by NOI Polls under the supervision of Chesapeake Beach Consulting and the IRI between Monday, April 18 to Friday, May 6.
“This poll attests to the significant work that Nigeria’s government must do to address regional divisions and other issues of governmental responsiveness and accountability affecting the Nigerian people.
“But it also highlights the tremendous achievement of the Nigerian people in committing to the democratic process despite the difficulty of past elections, and is a promising indicator for the country’s democratic development since the return to democracy in 1999,” John Tomaszewski, IRI Acting Regional Director, Africa, John Tomaszewski said.
A breakdown of the poll results indicates that 54 percent of Nigerians feel that their country is headed in the right direction.
Almost half of respondents in the North-East (40 percent) said the country is headed strongly in the right direction, compared to just 10 percent in the South-East, where 49 percent believe that the country is moving strongly in the wrong direction.
A similar split can be seen in regional perceptions of the economy: 75 percent of respondents in the South-East think the economy has gotten worse, compared with 44 percent in the North-East.
While respondents in the North and South differ on a number of issues, questions regarding elections indicate commitment to the concept of the democratic process nationwide.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents indicated their intention to vote in the next election and 46 percent feel that the condition of democracy had changed for the better since the 2015 elections.
Strikingly, the majority of respondents (59 percent) consider democracy to be more important than prosperity, compared to 37 percent who find prosperity to be more important to them.
This preference for democracy comes despite the crippling economic challenges facing the country, with 57 percent of respondents reporting that their personal economic situation has gotten worse over the past year.
The survey also reveals a widespread perception that corruption is declining, with 53 percent of respondents reporting that corruption has decreased in the past year.
However, it is important to note that this perception is largely split between the North-South lines, with more negative views noted in the South than in the North.
Nigeria's South south and South east regions have been rocked by agitations by various groups calling for an independent nation.
While the calls are more prominent in the South east with groups like Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) leading the charge, the South south has witnessed the resurgence of militancy in an area know for its large oil deposits.
The election of Muhammadu Buhari as president last year further polarized the nation, even though it signaled Nigeria's consolidation of its young democracy.