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Key findings
  • Nine out of 10 Nigerians (89%) say the country is going in “the wrong direction,” a 20- percentage-point increase from 2020.
  • Large majorities describe the country’s economic condition (85%) and their personal living conditions (71%) as “fairly bad” or “very bad.”
  • Eight in 10 Nigerians (79%) experienced moderate or high levels of lived poverty during the previous year, up 20 percentage points compared to 2020.
  • Management of the economy (39%) and unemployment (35%) rank as the second- and third-most important problems that citizens want the government to address, outranked only by crime/insecurity (41%).
  • Despite these difficulties, seven in 10 Nigerians (70%) say democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.

When Nigerians go to the polls on 25 February, they’ll be carrying the weight of a tough few years. A dependence on crude oil for foreign exchange earnings, a shortage of dollars in the economy, a recent interest rate hike by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and a new currency redesign, among other factors, have created economic misery for many Nigerians (Vanguard, 2022; Mojeed, 2023). A cash crunch that sparked violent protests in several regions, galloping inflation, and a 6% depreciation of the naira in 2022 has slowed economic activity in the country and made life more difficult (Yusuf, 2023).

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (2019), four out of 10 Nigerians had real per capita expenditures of less than about $300 in 2019, which translates to about 83 million people considered poor by national standards. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor, suffering deprivation along three dimensions of well-being (financial, education, and basic infrastructure services) (National Bureau of Statistics, 2022a; Elebeke, 2022). Nigeria’s inflation rate jumped by 5 percentage points, to 21.09%, between October 2021 and October 2022 (National Bureau of Statistics, 2022b), in part because of disruptions in the supply of food products and higher import costs due to currency depreciation (Abubakar, 2022).

Afrobarometer survey findings reflect these negative trends. Nigerians’ assessments of the country’s overall direction, its economic situation, and their personal living conditions have worsened significantly over the past two years. The proportion of citizens experiencing moderate or high levels of lived poverty has doubled since 2017.

Citizens’ ratings of the government’s performance on key economic issues are overwhelmingly negative. Management of the economy and unemployment join crime/insecurity and electricity as the most important problems that citizens want their government to address.

Despite these challenges, Nigerians remain steadfast in their preference for democracy over other types of government. But dissatisfaction with the way democracy is working in their country continues to increase, and is especially high among citizens who are unhappy about the economy.

Raphael Mbaegbu

Raphael is a project manager for NOI Polls

Sunday Duntoye

Sunday is the data manager for NOI Polls

Amara Galileo

Amara is a research intern for Afrobarometer.