Nigerians are hopeless optimists.
This article is not about optimism, it’s about the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction. I will not be defining those here, but I will be explaining something I learnt a while back.
Some things are mutually exclusive, like heat and cold. You can’t be both hot and cold simultaneously. However, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not mutually exclusive. You can be both satisfied and dissatisfied at the same time. What matters at the end of the day, is which weighs more.
The results I will be using to make my points come from survey results published by the Pew Research Center. They release their results two years after they are taken, so we have access to results from the years 2016, 2015, and 2014.
The chart above shows the 2016 survey results asking people how they feel about their day. Blue is the percentage of respondents who think they are having a typical day. Red is the percentage of respondents that think they are having a particularly good day. If you look at that chart again, you will notice that Nigeria has the largest red bar. In fact, 72% of respondents said they were having a particularly good day. Why is that?
In 2015, 56% of Nigerian respondents said they were having a particularly good day. In 2014, 58% of respondents said they were having a particularly good day.
Every day, when I check Twitter, I am greeted with posts by people who can’t wait to leave the shores of Nigeria and wish us well from the other side. To understand the magnitude of the problem, people are willing to sacrifice everything. Just look at the recent case of slavery in Libya. Between staying here and facing the deep blue sea, Nigerians chose the deep blue sea!
So, how can people who are willing to risk life and limb to escape the shores of Nigeria claim to be having a particularly good day? Because we are all optimists, or to put it another way, we are all religious. If you ask the average person who is bedridden how they are doing, the standard response is “I am well”. I got confused when I got to Lagos and people would say “I could not come to work today because I am feeling strong”.
The same survey has other more revealing questions.
Now back to the issue of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. 20% of respondents said they were satisfied with the way things were in the country. A whopping 79% said they were dissatisfied. Things are beginning to get interesting. Let’s try and analyze this dissatisfaction.
Remember our hopeless optimism? That does not show up here. Only 6% of respondents in 2016 felt that things were very good. Instead, 23% felt that things were somewhat good, 22% felt that things were somewhat bad, and 49% felt that things were very bad!
In spite of our optimism, 71% of respondents had absolutely no positive impressions about the state of the economy!
There is some good news however, 52% of respondents felt that things would improve a lot, and an additional 34% of respondents felt that things would improve a little. This was in 2016, and the euphoria of a new government was still in place.
While we didn’t think we were better than the rest of the world, we did think we were better off than South Africans! To put things in context, South Africa has a lot more manufacturing and mining activities than Nigeria.
Again, a whopping 94% of respondents expected their personal economic situation to improve over the subsequent 12 months.
In a rather surprising twist, only 20% of respondents recommended relocation to anyone interested in a good life. But this was 2016. We need to wait two years to see the survey results from 2018. Wouldn’t you love to see the results?
I am interested in where people would like to relocate to. While that question was not explicitly asked, respondents were asked to rate countries on a favourable scale. 66% rated the USA favourably. In a separate survey, 61% rated China favourably.
How well do we admire Americans? 86% of respondents consider Americans to be hard working. 61% think they are not violent. 58% think they are not greedy. 60% think they are tolerant. 64% think they are optimistic.
Look at those properties. I am of the opinion that if we applied those properties to ourselves, we would also be a country that people want to relocate to.
Do you think that the optimism has paid off? Has the general economic situation improved? How about your personal economic status? Are you holding tight, or are you one of those looking for greener pastures?