Nigeria’s February presidential election to be the keenest contested ever— Survey

A survey by a pan-African non-partisan research network, Afrobarometre, has revealed that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressives Congress, APC, are likely going to get 42 per cent each of all votes cast in next month’s presidential election describing the election as the closest on record.

Despite the closeness of the poll, the research, conducted in conjunction with CLEEN Foundation, however revealed that most Nigerians are “dissatisfied with current economic conditions” and not impressed with the country’s democracy,” suggesting that those who said they would vote for president Goodluck Jonathan are doing would do so for reasons other than performance.

When asked which party they expect to win 40 per cent said the PDP while 38 per cent gave it to the APC but Afrobarometre said the difference lies between the polls margin of error.

The survey also found that the youngest (18-25) and oldest (56-65) groups of voters favoured the PDP over the APC. Forty-two per cent of the 18-25 year-old said they would vote for the PDP as opposed to 35 per cent favouring the APC while 38 per cent of the 56-65 year-old favour the ruling party as opposed to 33 per cent for the APC. However those in the age bracket of 36-45 who favour the APC.

The survey also showed that PDP is strongest in the South South (65 per cent, APC 20 per cent), South East (61 per cent, APC 4 per cent) and North Central (45 per cent, APC 35 per cent). The APC is strongest in North West (59 per cent, PDP 20 per cent), South West (46 per cent, PDP 19 per cent), and North East (44 per cent and PDP 43 per cent).

According to the research, three quarters of the population (74 per cent) say the country is headed in the wrong direction economically; a four per cent increase from two year ago while 70 per cent expressed a pessimistic projection about the economy.

A large percentage of respondents (78 per cent) expressed lack of faith in government’s job creation efforts, 78 per cent again said has failed in the fight against corruption and 68 per cent said they were not impressed in its drive to improve electricity. Also 51 per cent said the government has not done enough in checkmating violent extremists in the country. However, the government go a commendable rating for its ability to stop the spread of Ebola. Ninety-four per cent said the government did well.

While public appraisal of the government’s ability to handle key national challenges is woeful, the populace seems to be gravitating towards the opposition as a more viable alternative. Public trust in the opposition rose from 24 per cent two years ago to 31 per cent. Thirty-eight per cent of those interviewed disagrees that the opposition presents a viable alternative while 31 per cent say they are not sure.

However, despite the overwhelming despondency about the economy and the governance, the Afrobarometre survey revealed that Nigerians have strong faith in the democratic process and their choice to vote for whom they choose to. A whooping 80 per cent of the respondent say they are free vote for who they choose while 77 per cent said elections is the best system for choosing leaders. Ironically, 68 per cent said they lack confidence in election as a means to “enable voters to remove from office leaders who do not do what the people want”

Fifty per cent however expressed concern about increasing intimidation in the current electoral process. This represents an alarming 34 per cent increase from just two years ago. This result is in tandem with several prognoses that the forth-coming election would be marred by outbreak of violent attacks in several parts of the country.

The survey also suggested that the turnout for the election would be impressive with 78 per cent of those interviewed said they would vote.

Surprisingly against the common narration that both leading parties are almost identical in ideology, a whooping 68 per cent say, “There are important differences between the ruling and opposition parties.”

Twenty-one per cent say the major differences are in the integrity or honesty of party leaders; 17 per cent say the differences are in economic and development policies while 14 per cent say the main difference are in the religious, ethnic, or regional identities of party leaders or members.

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