A new opinion poll on the fortunes of the candidates for next year’s presidential election by ANAP Foundation shows Peter Obi of Labour Party holding a significant lead over both Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the nationwide poll conducted this month, Obi stands at 21 percent while both Tinubu and Atiku are tied in second place with 13 percent each. Kwankwaso of the NNPP is at a distant fourth with only 3 percent.
The survey by NOI Polls, the leading polling services firm for country-specific polling in West Africa, also indicates that a considerably high proportion of Nigerians young and old are angling to vote in February’s election.
ANAP Foundation has traditionally organised political opinion polls ahead of each of the presidential elections since 2011 which are conducted by NOI Polls. Thursday’s poll results were released by ANAP’s founder, Atedo Peterside.
He said this recent nationwide opinion poll was concluded in early September 2022 with each of the respondents asked the same question: “Suppose the presidential election is being conducted today, who are you likely to vote for?”
According to a statement personally signed by Peterside, the poll revealed a substantially close race between Obi, Tinubu and Atiku.
It said: “Running significantly behind the leading pack is Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), who is the lone outsider. All other contestants polled results that are statistically insignificant.
“The results showed a significant lead for Mr Peter Obi with 21 percent of voters proposing to vote for him if the presidential election were to be conducted today; and 13 percent each proposing to vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who are both tied in second place. Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso was a distant fourth, with 3 percent of voters proposing to vote for him.
According to the statement, Obi’s 8 percentage point lead at this early stage is significant, but not sufficient to separate him completely from a leading pack of candidates.
“Undecided voters and those who prefer not to reveal their preferred candidate add up to a whopping 32 percent and 15 percent respectively. The gender split of undecided voters shows that 39 percent of women are undecided versus 27 percent of male voters,” it said.
The percentage of registered voters among the respondents is as follows in each of the zones: 99 percent in the North-East, 90 percent in the South, the North-Central and the North-West respectively. The lowest registered voter percentages were in the South East with 88 percent and the South-West with 85 percent.
When asked if respondents were aware of the various candidates vying for the Presidency, data gathered showed that 99 percent of the respondents were aware of Tinubu of the APC, 98 percent were aware of Atiku of the PDP, 95 percent were aware of Obi of LP and 74 percent were aware of Kwankwaso of the NNPP. All other candidates scored below 55 percent in terms of name recognition.
The data from the wide-ranging poll summarises top five reasons why voters are more inclined to vote in the forthcoming elections: the need to tackle insecurity (45 percent), the economy (20 percent), education (9 percent), unemployment (7 percent) and poverty alleviation (4 percent).
According to the results, 46 percent of the respondents said they want to see their preferred presidential candidates participate in a televised interview and/or debate, with the interview/debates spanning across topics like their party manifestos, issues of security, economy, education, job creation, healthcare and agriculture, among others.
ANAP Foundation said: “It is worthy of note that 69 percent of those aged 18-25, 76 percent of those aged 26-35, 77 percent of those aged 36-45, 87 percent of those aged 46-60 and 89 percent of those aged 61+ responded saying that they would definitely vote in the coming elections.
“The age groups that expressed the greatest willingness to vote were those between 46-60 and 61+ years. On average, the poll shows that almost 8 in 10 registered voters are absolutely certain that they would be voting in the next presidential election. If they stay committed, then we could witness a huge turnout in the February 2023 elections.”
It added: “Furthermore, Peter Obi led the pack in virtually all the age categories i.e., his leadership was not confined to the youths only.
“While these poll results show some significant trends, it is key to note that the battle ahead lies in the hands of the undecided/swing voters, as it appears they would ultimately decide which candidate takes the lead to emerge as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2023 presidential elections.”
According to the statement, the September 2022 polls are inconclusive in terms of establishing a clear winner, as the undecided voters are large enough to turn the tables.
“However, ANAP Foundation has concluded that the trends are clear enough to establish the frontrunners, and so our subsequent polls will concentrate on the four leading candidates only,” it said.
“These results show that Obi can win this election, and we may well be headed for a run-off between Obi and the second candidate, given the relatively humble showing of Obi in some regions,” one analyst said. “The results also answer the question which many have asked as to whether a vote for Obi is a wasted vote. A vote for Obi is not wasted at all.”
Reacting to the poll, the APC Presidential Campaign Council said the flag-bearer of the party, Tinubu, was unperturbed.
In a statement by Bayo Onanuga, director, media and publicity, it described the poll as “dubious, unrealistic and inconsistent.”
Onanuga said that the NOI Polls made wild and incredible permutations on the presidential elections.
According to the council, the APC is putting in place structures that will make its margin of victory so wide that it will be difficult for the opposition to contest it at the tribunal.
It said: “Our party is putting every necessary machinery in motion to win the federal elections with a margin that will be too wide to contest. Our candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu recorded the highest votes of a senator across the country under the Social Democratic Party in July 1992. He will do it on a nationwide scale on February 25, 2023.
“We are unperturbed by these dubious and unreliable statistics because our research shows that NOI Polls have been off the mark at critical election periods in recent times.”
Also reacting, Rabiu Kwankwaso Campaign Council described the poll result by ANAP Foundation and its projections as “self-seeking, self-serving, misleading, inaccurate and laced with partisanship.”
In a statement to the media, spokesperson of the council, Ladipo Johnson, questioned the sampling methods of the data collection.
He said: “I watched the interview on Arise Television programme this morning when the chairman of ANAP Foundation, Atedo Peterside, could not adequately respond to, or substantiate the sampling method used in arriving at the obviously unverifiable or concocted data.
“His defence was rather unclear and begging the question whether the poll was authentic by telling Nigerians or whoever is not comfortable with the outcome to go do their own poll.
“I would take it with a pinch of salt. This is a known template. In this season, we should expect many more dubious-sounding opinions, polls, etc. Unfortunately, there are many who for parochial reasons are drawing back the development of our democracy, due to various propaganda tricks.”