Focus on Africa: Pollsters set the stage for crucial Nigerian elections

14 February 2019 by 0 Comment Read for you 216 Views
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Undecided voters hold the key to Nigeria's Presidential elections, according to latest opinion surveys. Polling agencies are painting a rare picture of Nigerian politics as Africa’s largest democracy goes to the polls to elect a President, a Vice President and a National Assembly.

Up to four surveys predicting a comfortable win for President Buhari are making headlines in the country’s top dailies.

Buhari leads polls

One study sponsored by the ANAP Foundation found out that a solid one-third of the Nigerian electorate nation-wide expressed their intention to back Buhari’s bid for a second term.

But the researchers warn the incumbent that while his main challenger Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party is trailing in all the polls, undecided voters are concentrated outside the ruling party’s bastions in the North-East and North-West.

Undecided Voters

Pollsters working for the non-profit organisation committed to promoting good governance also recorded very strong voter apathy in the South-East zone, where 39 percent of the electorate remain undecided, days before the vote.

According to ANAP, up to 27 percent of polled voters in the South-South and 21 percent in the South-West also said they hadn’t given any consideration to the elections.

While presenting the survey, ANAP’s founder Atedo Peterside described the findings as unsurprising because a choice of two elderly Northern Muslim candidates in 2019 might have alienated quite a few in the South.

But Peterside, who is widely seen as a Buhari backer, wondered aloud if the President was aware that things are falling apart.

Polls dogged by questions of credibility

Despite claims by some opinion leaders that Nigerians don’t pay attention to polls, considering them “relatively new and not scientific enough” , the opposition is unlikely to overlook findings by NOI Polls, a technical partner of the global research firm Gallup, that Muhammadu Buhari is heading for re-election.

NOI Polls was founded by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ex-Nigerian Finance Minister and former Vice President of the World Bank.

The New York-based Eurasia Group which is dedicated to defining the business of politics also predicts a massive 60 percent win for President Buhari.

Enlightened guess work?

Sam Omatseye is Editorial Board Chairman at Nigeria’s Nation Media Group. He spoke to RFI from Lagos about the dynamics of Nigerian politics in this election year and dismisses the polls as "enlightened guess work" about what the outcome of the 16 February elections will be.

Brou Bertrand

IT assistant

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