Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is likely to emerge the winner of the closely contested election scheduled to hold on February 25, according to a new poll conducted by POLAF, a not-for-profit organisation.
The results of the poll, which was conducted between July 2022 and February 2023, rule out the possibility of a run-off.
On the methodology used for the poll, the organisation said three states were selected in each geopolitical zone, with an extra state selected from the South-South and South-West to make the number of states from which samples were drawn 20 out of 36 plus the Federal Capital Territory.
It said the sample was drawn from the voter register of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), adding that 3,123,660 respondents across 165 local government areas were contacted via telephone and were spoken to in English and any other native language they were most comfortable speaking in.
The poll report stated clearly that things may change before and on election day.
Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has made significant inroads into the Middle Belt and other strongholds of PDP – a development that has been confirmed by other polls. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State recently endorsed Obi.
Most of the polls released so far have tipped Obi to win the election. He was predicted as the winner in all the three polls commissioned by the ANAP Foundation and conducted by NOI Polls Limited.
Some have questioned if there is enough data to support an Atiku win. A person who knows about the POLAF poll but chose to speak anonymously said: “Obi has garnered most of the PDP base.”
In the POLAF poll, Atiku secured 38 percent to emerge as the preferred candidate, followed by Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who got 29 percent, while Obi secured 27 percent to take the third position. Rabiu Kwakwanso of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) is a distant fourth with only 5 percent of the total votes. The survey also projects that the PDP and the APC are the only two parties to comfortably secure the constitutionally required 25 percent across 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The LP and the NNPP are seen to be struggling in this regard.
“The poll survey shows each candidate’s position vide parameters and voters’ concerns. Four of 10 respondents are certain that their positions on candidates are made; three of 10 believe vote buying would influence their choice for voting; while the remainder awaiting guidance direction (from religious leaders, market associations, trade unions, etc.)” POLAF said in the report.
The majority of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the way the APC-led administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has handled the economy.
Ninety-five percent of the total respondents agree that the current government has performed worse than ever, according to the poll.
Afrobarometer, which conducted a survey in March 2022, said there had been significant shifts in the mood and affiliations of the Nigerian public.
“Citizens are overwhelmingly gloomy in their assessments of the country’s overall direction, the national economy, their personal living conditions, and the government’s performance on crime and violence, and affiliation with the two major political parties is on a rapid decline. These findings suggest a broad desire for change and a widening political field,” it said.
The majority of the respondents in the POLAF poll say unemployment tops the list of what they want the next President to tackle. Other important issues are infrastructure, economy, poverty, health, and education.
The candidates of the LP and the PDP are the most preferred across the three age brackets (18-30, 31-50, 51 and above) in the POLAF poll. The election is likely to involve greater participation of young voters, including many who will be casting ballots for the first time. According to INEC, 7.38 million or 76 percent of the new registrants are aged 18 to 34 years, up from 51 percent in 2019. Experts say the increase in young voters is due to several factors including youths becoming politically active while protesting police brutality in October 2020. This gave them a sense of their power to push for greater reforms in governance.
The poll projects PDP to do better than other parties in the North Central, North-East, North-West, and South-South regions of Nigeria, which would give it a clear path to victory. Gombe, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers would likely deliver for the PDP more than other parties, according to the poll.
“The NW GPZ (Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara) with 22,255,562 votes, has the highest voting strength nationwide. The 4Ks (Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, and Kebbi) alone have a voting strength of 15,805,338 which dwarfs the entire SE region with 10,907,606 votes, of which PDP/AA if not winning particular areas, would be alternate to LP/PO, achieving required 25 percent in all states of the SE, and probably winning some,” the report said.
It said that in the election, a candidate would win without necessarily winning any of the two most populous states of Kano and Lagos.
“From the survey, APC and LP will split votes in Lagos (with the PDP not achieving the required 25 percent). In Kano, it’s a contest between the NNPP, PDP and APC, in that order, while additional votes can be obtained from the remaining NW states, which would make the difference in the polls,” it added.
The International Crisis Group said in a recent report that the current crisis in Nigeria could affect the successful outcome of the general elections and who eventually emerges as the winner.