Introduction

It is no news that the 2019 Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) ravaged the world, with more than 11 million confirmed cases worldwide and 500,000 deaths recorded to date. The shutdown of major economic activities plunged many economies into recession including Nigeria’s economy. Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), where many people operate in the informal economy, were mostly affected and many Nigerians had the feeling that measures such as lockdowns and curfews should be lifted to revive the oil-dependent nation. It is important to understand the perception of Nigerians on the disease and how it has affected their lives as it can inform decision makers on deficiencies in their efforts to control the spread and help organisations with key data needed to transition into the new normal.
This is a report assessing the perception, attitudes, and beliefs of Covid-19 among Nigerians. It does this via an online survey that was conducted to gather data of people in all six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Firstly, it provides a short description on the report, with a brief overview of the structure and goals of the report. Secondly, it explains the importance of such a research at this time. Nigeria is country with a weak research culture, so this report can be very useful in setting a foundation. Thirdly, it shows how the research was conducted, with the sections of the survey identified.  Finally, it offers the key findings of the research, analysing the main observations of the participants and their responses.

Research Short Description

The purpose of the survey is to investigate the prevailing beliefs, attitudes, and practices in response to the Covid-19 pandemic amongst Nigerians. The survey was carried out for study and informational purposes. The data gathered is for informative and educative purposes to determine the trends in the thought process of Nigerians with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. It asks for the respondents’ household income, their jobs, and their opinions about the current turn of events and the lockdown directives put in place by the government. The research was carried out via online survey to gather information and data from the six geographical zones in Nigeria: North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East and South-West. We started conducting the online survey on 05 June 2020 and it ended on 19 June 2020.

Why Was the Research Conducted?

The first case of Covid-19 in Nigeria was announced by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the 28th of February 2020. The aftermath of the announcement required that the Nigerian government, in conjunction with NCDC, take the appropriate steps to inform and sensitize the citizens about Covid-19, the requirements for social distancing in preventing the spread of the contagious disease through human contacts and droplets, and lastly, the need to introduce a total lockdown as a way to minimize the outbreak.
The gradual warnings by the Nigerian government in adhering to health precautionary measures resulted in implementing a total lockdown nationwide. The stay-at-home order and work restrictions stemmed from lack of total commitment to the warnings on social distancing and gatherings of a sizeable number of not more than 20 persons in a closed environment/unit. The government eventually announced a total lockdown in mid-April as a way to flatten the curve of the spread of Covid-19. The consultancy decided to survey the views of only those resident in Nigeria during the total lockdown.
The adverse economic impact of the pandemic are well documented, and it is common knowledge that the shutdown worldwide led to a global recession. Nigerians felt the brunt of it as a global glut in oil prices coupled with a shut-down of economic activities, crippled the economy. There was a growing feeling in the country that the lockdown ought to be lifted to ease the pressure on small businesses and the poorest who were hit hardest.
Thus the research was conducted to assess the views of Nigerian residents towards Covid-19 and also their reactions as regards the lockdown directives put in place by the Nigerian government. The consultancy decided to create a perception survey focused on the opinions and views of adult citizens across the 6 geographical zones: North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East and South-West.

How Was the Research Conducted?

It was carried out using an online perception questionnaire survey distributed across the social media platforms for WillFran consulting. The format for the questionnaire survey contains closed-end questions and Likert-type questions to assess the attitudes of Nigerian residents during the total lockdown. Some of the varied responses was obtained based on age, location, religion, level of education and monthly household income.
The focus for the target audience was pegged at an age range of 18 to 65 years old as these were the people whose daily activities and socio-economic status is being mostly affected. A total of 206 residents cross the 6 geographical regions responded to the online questionnaire. The responses exhibited the truest opinions, anticipation and misgivings of Nigerian residents as it concerns Covid-19. The qualitative results gives an accuracy result of 94%.
In obtaining information/answers as to these questions:

  • What are the steps these residents have been taking in ensuring they stay safe and healthy?
  • How have they been coping during the stay-at-home order?
  • What impact has the stay-at-home and work restrictions had on their finances?
  • How have they been able to differentiate between fake news, accurate information and conspiracy theories?
  • Why do they think there has been a non-compliance and lack of commitment on the part of the government to protect them?

In addition, the age brackets were regulated from time to time so as to get a good representation of feedbacks from the opinions and views of the respondents. The location chosen within the six geographical represented major cities and town within the States as well as sparsely populated towns.
Also we factored into the study the fact that people within different age brackets and working age would be online at different or certain times of the day so we ensured that the online questionnaire Ads were posted at particular times of the day and particular days of the week. For example, a retiree or 60+ year old respondent would most likely have the time to feel the survey anytime of the day especially since people within that age range were specifically instructed to avoid going out.
An undergraduate would most likely also be on their phone all day or during the early hours of the morning when the networks charge less; a working class individual would likely have the time to check social media outlets after 5 or 6pm until they go to bed. A habitual working from home individual would most probably check their phones during break times, that is, 12nooon to 2pm. Lastly, persons who depend on others for their source of income would either be online during the day or late at night when internet charges are less. All these behavioural patterns helped in getting a good representation and accurate information of how the Covid-19 has had an impact on their daily lives.
An online Ad specifically tailored to each geographical location was created to obtain an accurate representation of the thoughts, opinions and views of residents who were residing here in Nigeria during the total lockdown. The location chosen within the six geographical represented major cities and town within the States as well as sparsely populated towns.

Sections of the Survey

The survey was categorized into 7 sections to cover issues on stay-at-home orders and work restrictions:
Section 1: Background questions as a way to find out the biography of responders
Section 2: Feelings about current state of affairs
Section 3: Knowledge of Covid-19
Section 4: Lockdown in Nigeria
Section 5: Response to Coronavirus pandemic
Section 6: Assessment of response by the Nigerian government
Section 7: Adjusting to life after the lockdown
The responses to each section aptly describes the perceptions of Nigerians towards information on Covid-19, job loss due to the pandemic, the optimism to go back to work and the need for a more robust efforts by the government in providing the necessary healthcare and safety for citizens; ensuring a kind of palliative or stimulus for those who have lost their jobs or cannot earn their wages due to work restrictions and an assurance that the spread will be curtailed to the barest minimum within a short period.  The responses were obtained via relevant questions as it relates to these areas/issues.

What are the Key Findings of the Research?

Participants Characteristics

The research targeted at least 200 participants, and received 206 adults that answered the questionnaire. Around 120 participants (60%) were between the ages of 34-49, and two thirds were male respondents. Approximately 50% had no primary school education certificate. In addition, a third of the participants had a total household income of between N35,000 Naira and N100,000 Naira. Furthermore, a majority of the participants (58.5%) lived in households of between 2-5 members.

Key Findings

The total lockdown and restrictions on movement did not preclude us from interaction with the respondents as online survey make it easier get responses with the click of a button.
Our key findings from the questionnaire survey are as follows:
A quarter of the responders, that is, 26.7% are of the belief that the spate of Covid-19 should be considered as a serious problem, while a larger fraction view it as an extremely serious problem.

  • More than 50% of the responders were pessimistic that the Nigerian government will protect them from the adverse effect of Covid-19.
  • Another question on the survey enquired if people would want the lockdown completely lifted so that people can go back to work and 47.6% gave an affirmative response, 29.1% would prefer not to go back even if the lockdown were to be completely lifted and 23.3% opted for the ‘maybe’ option on the questionnaire.
  • Another question included to make us understand what people think about returning to their normal activities in relation to the lockdown being lifted: 57.8% wanted the stay-at-home lifted, 25.2% do not want the lockdown lifted for people to return to their normal activities and 17% opted for a ‘maybe’ response.
  • In relation to adverse effect on finances, 71.4% gave an affirmative response, while 15.5% attest to the fact that their finances have not been affected, and 12.1% admit to a ‘somewhat’ response and the remainder chose ‘not sure’.
  • Lastly on fake news, accurate information and conspiracy theories: 44.2% agree they cannot tell which news is accurate information or fake news, 28.6% disagree as to not being able to differentiate between fake news or accurate information and 27.2% opted for a neutral response.

The qualitative results has helped in trying to make us understand how adults whose daily activities, household income and finances have been affected by the pandemic as it concerns Nigeria. The questionnaire survey provides us with insights on perspectives, thought process, the realities faced by people and the pessimism originating from the response of the government.

Knowledge of Covid-19

An alarming number of participants (44%) found it difficult to tell which information about Coronavirus was genuine and which was fake. This was expected as there is a high prevalence of fake news in Nigeria. Misinformation is usually spread via Facebook or WhatsApp- mediums people rely on as valid reliable sources. For example, rumours such as ‘Coronavirus does not affect black people’ or ‘Covid-19 can be cured with anointing holy oils’ were common during the pandemic. Despite this, a fair number of the participants were aware of all the symptoms of the disease. When presented with a number of correct symptoms, 36.9% chose the correct answer ‘All of the above symptoms’ while 32% were aware of ‘Some of the above symptoms’. Only 12% chose the option ‘Difficulty breathing’ as the only symptom of Coronavirus.
Finally, all participants were aware of the correct way to wear a face mask. It can be inferred that this was a direct result of the aggressive marketing campaign by the government. Initially, many people were seen using face masks as a fashion statement. As part of the measures to control the virus, the federal and state governments used online, print, billboards, and radio advertising campaigns to show people the correct way to wear the mask to protect themselves.

Behaviours since the Pandemic

A large number of respondents (60%) already had a habit of washing their hands regularly before the measures in place to control the spread of the virus. This data can contribute to studies in understanding why the virus did not have the severe impact that was predicted for Nigeria. Two thirds of the respondents answered they would wash their hands regularly and wear a face mask to protect their loved ones. This was the most widely adopted measure to prevent infections.
In terms of buying habits 76 participants answered they now go to grocery shopping once a week. Buying behaviours in terms of frequency and methods of payments are one of the things that will change in the new normal, so organisations in the FMCG and Supermarket industries would need to adapt. For example, there will be adoption of more online payment pathways after the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, many were not willing to pay more to have goods delivered to their homes- 38% disagreed to pay more, while 35% were unsure of the idea. Changing buying habits did not indicate people would be willing to pay more for delivery services despite the convenience.

This article was originally published on Research Choices Covid-19 Reports, powered by ESOMAR. You can read the Research Choices article here.

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