Presidential Election Too Close To Call – Afrobarometer Poll

By Abiose Adelaja Adams, Lagos

The  race between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its main challenger, the All progressive Congress, APC, is tight and may be too close to call, a new study released in Lagos on Tuesday has found.

The survey, conducted by Afrobarometer in collaboration with the Cleen Foundation gives a snapshot of voter attitude across the six geopolitical regions of the country and measures citizen’s satisfaction with democracy and government’s performance on key issues.

At a public presentation of the research outcome in Lagos, the programme manager of Cleen Foundation, Nengak Daniel, said this outcome shows what has engaged Nigerians about the coming election.

An aspect of the survey which will interest Nigerians most is one of the key findings of the study which concludes that the presidential race is too close to call as voting intentions across the six zones shows that 39 per cent of the respondents will vote for PDP, while 38 per cent will vote for APC, with a plus-minus margin of 2 per cent.

In the North East, 43 per cent is for the PDP, while 44 per cent is for the APC.

In the North West, 20 per cent indicated interest in voting the PDP, while 59 per cent is for the APC. In the South east, 61per cent is for the PDP, while 4 per cent for the APC, while in the South west, 19 per cent is for the PDP, while APC polled 46 per cent

According to the study, 75 per cent of the people polled believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, while more than half of them observed that the economy is in bad shape.

“Three quarters of Nigerians say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Twenty nine per cent are dissatisfied with democracy and 57 per cent say the economy is in a bad shape,” says Nengak.

He added that “Nigerians are uncertain about the prospect for credible and peaceful polls.”

Out of the 2,400 randomly selected respondents across rural and urban areas using standard questionnaires and interviews in respondents’ language of choice, Nengak observed that the public gave poor ratings for government in sectors such as economic management, creating jobs, fighting corruption and providing a reliable supply of electricity.

On economic management, it shows that 29 per cent of respondents believe the economy is fairly managed while 70 per cent said it is very badly managed.

On job creation, a majority, 78 per cent, said the government is not creating enough jobs while only 22 per cent believe otherwise.

Regarding fighting corruption, 22 per cent believes the government is fighting corruption while 78 per cent observed that the government itself is really corrupt. On providing reliable electricity, 31 per cent believe the government has tried while 68 per cent believe otherwise.

On response to national emergencies, 49 per cent said the government is somewhat responding to the insecurity caused by armed insurgents, while 51 per cent believe the government is not responsive at all.

As for the Ebola response, the government rating was as high as 94 per cent while only 6 per cent criticised government’s reaction.

The survey, which is 6th of its kind (Round 6) in Nigeria, also measures the election environment, the readiness of the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, voter engagement, political party evaluations, as well as voting intentions.

On election environment, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) said that elections are the best system for choosing leaders, but 68 per cent expressed  lack confidence in elections as a means to vote out bad leaders from office. Only 23 per cent believe that elections are determined by a fair count of votes, while 57 per cent say electoral bribery is frequent.

Also, compared to 2012 where 34 per cent fear electoral violence, in 2014, the number has increased to 50 per cent who now fear electoral intimidation and violence.

On INEC’s preparedness, about two-thirds of those polled (64 per cent) believe INEC is ready to hold credible, free and fair elections.

On voter engagement, the study found that 78 per cent plan to vote in the 2015 election with voter intention increasing with age and more men (83 per cent) increase over women (73 per cent).

Assessing political parties, the survey found that compared to 2012, trust in opposition parties has risen from 24 to 31 per cent, while trust in the ruling PDP has remained unchanged at 29 per cent.

About 31 per cent believe the opposition offers a viable alternative vision and plan for the country, while respondents are almost evenly split on the question of which party would do better in managing critical issues.

Comparing the two main political parties’ response to issues such as improving healthcare, 40 per cent of the respondents believe that the ruling party can improve health while 31 per cent believe the main opposition party can.

In creating jobs, 34 per cent believe the ruling party has the capacity, while 33 per cent believe the opposition will do better.
In fighting corruption, 32 per cent said the opposition can do it better, while 28 per cent go with ruling party can.

Nengak, concluded by saying that “support for opposition is at the highest level recorded in any Afrobarometer survey in Nigeria,” adding that “challengers are set to make their strongest showing since the restoration of multiparty elections since 1990.”

He said further that “only moderate differences in party preferences across gender and age groups, and as in any close contest, small shifts in partisan preferences could swing the election either way.”

The survey however does not ask very pertinent questions such as if those intending to vote have permanent voter’s card, PVCs.  This issue has been a bone of contention as several intending voters still have not received their PVCs and may be disenfranchised if INEC does not finish distributing it up until January 31st as promised.

INEC had said a total of 68,833,476 Nigerians registered for the polls and so far 38,774,391 have collected their PVCs.

Also, the survey did not field questions of human rights abuses or raise queries about what respondent think of the girls who were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, last April.

Responding to this at the event also is Moses Olusola, the project management director of Practical Sampling International, which carried out the survey for Afrobarometer, said the survey could not accommodate all the issues.

“Interviewing each respondent lasts up to 45 minutes and so we could not ask all the questions or even discuss all questions asked at once,” he said.



    Olusola added that in all, 100 questions were fielded from a random selection of 2,400 Nigerians.

    He said also that the survey was conducted in 33 out of 36 states, as 3 states in North east were left out.

    “It was not possible to conduct interviews in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe due to unrest so substitution was of sampling units were made from neighbouring states.

    Cleen Foundation is a nongovernmental organization that promotes public safety and access to justice, while Afrobarometer is an Africa-led, non-partisan research network that works in 30 African countries since 1999.

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