More than 7 in 10 Nigerians (73 per cent) have said they would relocate abroad with family members if they had an opportunity, a new survey published this week has found.
This is a whopping 41 percentage point increase from citizens who were hoping to emigrate in 2019, when only about a third of citizens (32 per cent) said they were willing to relocate with their families out of Nigeria.
This may not be unconnected to the substantial decline in the level of trust that citizens have for the government of President Muhammadu Buhari as only about 26 per cent said they had “a lot of trust and some trust” in President Buhari as against 42 per cent in 2019.
The trust in the judicial system is 26 per cent (from 32 per cent in 2019), and 22 per cent in both the National Assembly (from 33 per cent in 2019) and the Nigerian police.
In turn, the survey found that citizens have more trust in religious leaders (55 per cent) and traditional leaders (44 per cent).
Yet, 59 per cent of citizens believe that the future of Nigeria will be better this year. Although this is a decline from 66 per cent in 2019.
Similarly, more citizens believe that the future of Nigeria would be much worse than it is today – from 15 per cent in 2019 to 27 per cent in 2021.
The 2021 Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey, a publication of Africa Polling Institute (API), was undertaken to develop a social cohesion index for Nigeria and measure citizens’ perception of the state of social cohesion, API’s executive director, Bell Ihua, said in a statement.
The survey estimated the Nigeria Social Cohesion Index (NSCI) to be 44.2 per cent, a figure below the average mark, an indication that “Nigeria is not as socially cohesive as it ought to be.”
The report further found a decline in how proud citizens felt about Nigeria, from 55 per cent in 2019 to 42 per cent in 2021, representing a 13 per cent decline.
Also, 49 per cent of those surveyed said they “feel disappointed in Nigeria,” while 7 per cent of them “feel indifferent,” and 2 per cent feel uncertain about their feelings for the country.
Scant national pride has thus pushed ethnic identity to the forefront as 82 per cent of Nigerians feel comfortable with the dual identity of being both Nigerian and from their ethnic group, although with varying degrees, the survey found.
The survey noted that 4 in 10 Nigerians are “proud of being equally Nigerian and from their ethnic group,” while about a third said they identify more with their ethnicity than with being Nigerian, compared to only 9 per cent feel more Nigerian than ethnic.
In the 2019 data, 57 per cent of Nigerians felt proud of being Nigerian and from their ethnic group. A quarter said they were more ethnic than Nigerian.
This, perhaps, explains why 65 per cent of Nigerians believe that “Nigeria is much more divided today than it was four years ago” as opposed to the 12 per cent who said “the country is much more united today,” and 23 per cent who “believe that the country has stayed the same.”
This means that the perception about national unity worsened when compared to the 45 per cent figure of 2019.
Mr Ihua said the survey findings are evidence suggesting that the country has become more divided along ethnic, socio-economic, political and religious lines, thereby threatening the social fabric, unity and peaceful co-existence of the country.
“The concept of social cohesion refers to the willingness of citizens of a country to cooperate and work together towards ensuring the survival and prosperity of the country,” Mr Ihua wrote.
Held between April and May 2021, the survey made 8,114 contacts, out of which 5,363 interviews were completed, representing a response rate of 66 per cent.
The interviews, conducted in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, were conducted by face-to-face household interviews, using the Stratified Random Sampling technique, Mr Ihua noted.
The interviewees were citizens aged 18 years and above and they were drawn such that all senatorial districts and states were proportionately represented in the sample, the professor at Coal City University, Enugu, added.
Other findings in the report showed that the proportion of Nigerians who feel disappointed in the country has increased from 30 per cent in 2019 to 49 per cent in 2021
Likewise, 56 per cent of Nigerians feel “extremely or somewhat dissatisfied” about their lives as Nigerians right now.
“Most of the citizens (74 per cent) believe that all Nigerians are not equal before the law; versus 23 per cent who feel otherwise. About 6 in 10 Nigerians (58 per cent) express the view that the federal government isn’t making enough effort to promote a sense of inclusion for all ethnic groups in the country,” a summary of the report further showed.
“The survey findings showed that only 63 per cent of citizens are “extremely or somewhat willing” to cooperate with fellow citizens to make Nigeria more united.
“The survey revealed that 59 per cent of citizens believe that the government is managing the revenues from natural resources “poorly”; while 41 per cent of Nigerians “agree or strongly Agree” that the availability of natural resources fuels corruption in the country, compared to 40 per cent citizens that “disagreed or strongly disagreed.”
As regards the derivation policy, 45 per cent of citizens consider the 13 per cent derivation policy “unfair and insufficient.”
“8 in 10 Nigerians (81 per cent) agree that boys and girls should have equal access to education; 72 per cent agree that both males and females should be judged based on their qualifications, competence and track records; 67 per cent agree that women should be allowed to lead in politics, corporate entities and religious organizations; and 63 per cent agree that women should be given equal opportunity to family inheritances.
“Regarding the current administration’s efforts at promoting gender equity, about half of Nigerians (49 per cent) rated this administration “poorly”; as against about 2 in 10 Nigerians (21 per cent) who rate the government favourably.
“83 per cent of Nigerians consider human rights violations a problem in the country. Also, 48 per cent believe that most cases of human rights violations are never reported to the police; and in cases where they are reported, 56 per cent were more likely to report such cases to community and religious leaders and not the police.
“53 per cent of citizens believe that impunity thrives in the current administration and 83 per cent believe impunity amongst government officials is “increasing.”
“Almost 7 in 10 citizens (69 per cent) believe that the level of corruption has increased significantly in the past year, while 63 per cent assess the government’s efforts at tackling corruption “poorly.”
“Overall, almost 6 in 10 (59 per cent) citizens believe that the future of the country would be much better than it is presently; compared to 27 per cent who expressed pessimism that the future would be much worse,” the summary added.
API urged the federal government to create a National Cohesion Commission tasked with ensuring that “all policies and activities of government have components within them that create a sense of belonging, promotes trust, fosters inclusive governance, and continuously offers citizens opportunities for upward mobility. ”
It added that the federal government needs to forge a new national movement for Nigeria and Nigerians in form of a “new Nigerian Dream” that promotes unity, oneness and peaceful co-existence amongst citizens.
It suggested that institutions like the ministry of information and culture, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and their affiliates “have an increasing role to play, in shaping and amplifying narratives that help to promote social cohesion, inclusion and unity.”
“Religious and ethnic leaders should mitigate against hate speech, discrimination and hostility at the community level since they are closer to the people and citizens have more trust for them, as evident in the findings,” API said in the statement signed by Mr Ihua.
“CSOs contributions to social cohesion in Nigeria is imperative and viable because they possess the understanding, capacity and technical know-how to respond to societal issues and facilitate peaceful co-existence of the people which will help to rekindle public trust for civil authorities.
“Citizens are encouraged to participate in community dialogues, civil engagements and initiatives that promote cohesion and discuss the future of Nigeria; especially ideas and insights on how to build a more enduring and egalitarian society.
“While Nigerians remain resilient and committed to working together for a better country; we reiterate the need for a national dialogue to help renegotiate the fault lines that currently threaten our shared existence as a nation,” the group added.
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