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Data Analysis: Bursting Buhari’s popularity bubble – A birthday gift to Mr. President

President Buhari standing beside his 75th birthday card alongside some aides on Sunday


Data Analysis: Bursting Buhari’s popularity bubble – A birthday gift to Mr. President

by Adewunmi Emoruwa 

Happy Birthday Mr. President.  I don’t know what it feels like to be 75. I don’t know what you like, what to buy you and if I could even afford it. I don’t know how to get it across to you or how you would take it. Still I got a gift for you and if you are truly sober and reflective – you would appreciate this. And if you believe that “Data is the new Oil”, then you will agree with me that this gift is priceless.

On my birthday, I tend to reflect on my year, embark on a self-appraisal with a view to make the right changes and hopefully become a better man. You see sir, you said you belong to the people – every one of them including the 97% and 5% – those who voted for and against you. I do not belong to either group. This is the first time I would be gifting a President and I count myself lucky.

READ: As Buhari turns 75 tomorrow, these are the only 11 African presidents older than him

Are You Really That Popular?

President Buhari, your aides will tell you that you are popular but that is only partly true.  They probably have the data to support it, just like I do. Since the beginning of the year you’ve averaged a 51% approval rating which means you are more popular than Presidents Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Jacob Zuma and Prime Minister Theresa May. But I know that wouldn’t do. Your government’s obsession with your predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan is all that matters. So how popular are you, President Buhari compared to your predecessor at this stage of your presidency? I’ve fixed it for you. Jonathan’s 2013 is your 2017 in the timeline of your Presidencies, so I have analysed the year (till November) for you. See chart below.

On the surface with your (PMB) 51.8% average approval against his [GEJ] 49.4%, you are nearly 3% more popular than he his.

True interpretation: Your advantage is within the margin of error against the man whom you accused of ruining the economy and aiding Boko Haram. This can only mean one thing: that you are not as popular as you think.

And it might shock you that on the average, more people disapprove of your government compared to your predecessor’s by 7%! [Avg Disapproval: PMB 32.9%; GEJ 25.8%]

Permit me to show you a few more things if you would spare some time, I know you are busy but this is election season. I promise you, it would be worth the while.

Your ‘Victory’ Base is Getting Weaker

I know you have the history. I would not delve into the details but there has never been a winner of any Presidential Election in Nigeria who did not carry the North Central. I know that some would argue, but I tell you that Kano did not take you into Aso Rock. You always had Kano. It took the two zones you have never won in your failed attempts to put you in. So for the purpose of this article, I would tell you how you are doing in the North Central and the South West. Let’s look at November 2017.

See chart below:

I know you would not like this but data shows that Goodluck Jonathan is more popular than you (PMB) in the North Central right now. I am sure you know the reason. Jonathan has a 6% advantage over you in terms of approval in the North Central at this time [Approval: PMB 46%; GEJ 52%] while you have a double digit 20% disadvantage in terms of disapproval. [Disapproval: PMB 43%; GEJ 23%]. For proper context, your approval has dwindled by 29% from 72% in June 2015 after you assumed power and your disapproval rating has surged by a whooping 31% since the same time. Not good.

In the South West, the tale is no different. Goodluck Jonathan has a 7% advantage over you when it comes to approvals [Approval: PMB 37%; GEJ 44%] and you are disadvantaged by 15% in terms of the disapproval in the region. [Disapproval: PMB 38%; GEJ 23%]

READ: NOI Polls: 9 of the top 10 performing governors are in the North (See List)

How are you faring with Core Voters?

I really wish I could tell you but it feels like it’s mixed fortunes.  So let me help you understand this from what data shows me. According to INEC data, out of 23,643,479 accredited voters in 2015 General Election, top 5 voters include – Farmers, Students, Housewives, Business People and Civil Servants.

See chart below.

Since the polls do not take the opinion of housewives at this time, I am somewhat limited to the remaining four groups. I have made a comparison between your [PMB] popularity and your predecessor’s.  Data shows that you are doing better than your Predecessor in double digits when it comes to the farmers – the largest voting bloc. Please don’t stop the music. You also enjoy a significant level of popularity among the civil servants. See chart below.

However, the Business people disapprove of your [PMB] administration by a record 57%. That’s a disadvantage of 36% in contrast with Jonathan. [Disapproval: PMB 57%; GEJ 21%]. Yet, this is coming months after you ‘brought’ Nigeria out of the recession. There is a problem, sir. Another interesting dataset to call your attention to would be the students who make up the second largest voting block. With students, you enjoy a 6% advantage over in approval but suffer a large 20% disapproval compared to your predecessor.  [Disapproval: PMB 42%; GEJ 22%]. 


On this special occasion of your birthday, I borrow the prayer of a Tweep “May you reap the fruits of your deeds.” Thank you for your time.

  1. I usually charge for this, times are hard and you my want to send me a check. 
  • Adewunmi Emoruwa is a Strategist in Social Change, Public Policy and Power

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