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Report 6: Public perceptions of security dynamics & stabilisation interventions in the Niger Delta

April 2019–September 2019

Summary

This report summarises the results of a public perception survey (PPS) carried out by Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) in three Niger Delta States – Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers. The purpose of the PPS is to understand local-level concerns about security in the region, and priorities for addressing security-related issues.

The PPS is conducted bi-annually, with each examining public perceptions relating to the previous six-month period. Due to the proximity to project completion in March, the survey for this report was brought forwards from March to January 2020, but participants were still asked to look back over the past six months, and forwards over the next twelve.

The major event during the period under review was the Bayelsa State gubernatorial election, which held in November and drew attention from across the region. In addition, the main Federal Government institutions tied to security and stabilisation in the Niger Delta came under increased scrutiny from the Government and the public. This was triggered by the Presidential announcement that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) would be undergo a forensic audit.

Key messages

  • Overall, slightly more respondents thought the security situation had improved, rather than worsened, over the last six months. Optimism was particularly high in Bayelsa State following the November gubernatorial election. However, in Rivers State, almost half of all respondents thought the situation was worse, due to constant low-level insecurity.
  • Public concern continues to grow over cult groups and their role in insecurity. Two thirds of respondents across states said that cult groups were most likely to be involved in security threats. This result is consistent with previous surveys, and the number of respondents ranking cult groups top is rising.
  • Nearly two thirds of respondents in Bayelsa State were optimistic that the security situation would improve over the next year, reflecting hopes that the incoming Governor would have a positive effect. Conversely in Rivers State, following a series of killings across the state by unidentified gunmen, almost half thought it would worsen.
  • By far the highest number of respondents said they think State governments should be responsible for improving security in the Niger Delta. This result is consistent with previous surveys, and the number of respondents ranking them top is rising. Respondents have consistently ranked Federal Government second across surveys, and this is rising too, meaning more respondents are assigning responsibility to these two over others, even those specifically established to address security and stabilisation in the region.
  • The public visibility of the majority of Federal Government initiatives is diminishing. Consistent with past surveys, the only well-known initiative was the Presidential Amnesty Programme. For all other initiatives, awareness has dropped throughout the period of these surveys, which implies the public are increasingly apathetic towards Federal Government policy.
  • Mirroring responses in earlier surveys, the highest number of respondents chose employment as the main priority area, relating to the common perception that higher unemployment leads to higher crime, cultism, gang-related violence, and insecurity.
  • Only one fifth of respondents had heard of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, and even fewer understood what their objectives are, and this is down from one third in the last survey. Results suggest they have almost faded out of public consciousness in Bayelsa State, where just 3% had heard of PANDEF.
  • In this survey, in light of developments with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), we asked respondents about NNDC projects in their area. Overall, 80% of respondents said they had a Niger Delta Development Commission project in their community. Out of this number, half said the project was completed. This may seem low, but is higher than the 38% completion rate NDDC rates themselves. Between states, it would appear more projects are abandoned in Bayelsa. Overall, more than two thirds of respondents affirmed that the forensic audit would improve performance in service delivery.

This report is part of a series

Published: 14.10.2020

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