Presidential election likely to end up in a run-off — SBM poll
as result shows electorates prioritise presidency over guber race, others
Nigerians should expect a runoff to decide its next president, according to SBM Intelligence, a geopolitical research consultancy firm.
This was in its latest report on a poll commissioned by EiE Nigeria to forecast the outcome of next Saturday’s presidential election.
The February 25 presidential election is anticipated to be the most keenly contested, with three or four major candidates vying to occupy the seat of power in Africa’s most populous nation. Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peter Obi, of the Labour Party, and Rabiu Kwankwaso, of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), are seen as candidates with a nationwide appeal to win the next Saturday election.
According to SBM, “Nigerians will need a second round to decide their next president definitively.”
Earlier, using a larger sample size of 11,000 respondents cut across the six geopolitical zones of the federation, it was concluded that Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar had a more national appeal, with Bola Tinubu gaining a higher level of support from the North West and South West geopolitical zones. Rabiu Kwankwaso would pose a greater threat to Tinubu and Abubakar’s dominance in Kano and Katsina, but in fewer states in the North Central and North East regions
“The data suggest that Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar could garner enough votes over a sufficient number of states across four of the country’s six geopolitical zones to meet the constitutional requirement of scoring 25 percent in at least 24 states.
“This outcome, however, is complicated by the fact that Bola Tinubu is likely to do well in two of the country’s biggest voting states—Kano and Lagos—and the heavily populated south-west and north-west states, thereby winning the popular vote but not reaching 25 percent in 24 states,” it said.
The higher probability of a run-off was supported by the feelings it picked up from not only respondents who said they had recently picked up Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), but the mood in the country, which could perhaps swing votes to either of the four front runners.
“The first 2023 election survey conducted by SBM was published in July 2022 and showed that only 41% of registered voters had collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). This assumption of low turnout fed into our December 2022 projections, based on a 7,000-respondent survey.
“The assumption of low turnout changed when, in January 2023, our 6,500-respondent survey on PVC collection showed a remarkable increase in PVC collection—97 percent,” it explained.
SBM, in collaboration with the Enough is Enough organization, observed that voter mobilisation exercises had spurred many first-time voters to act.
“We believe that the surge in voter awareness done by INEC and CSOs like Enough is Enough (EiE), through their #RSVP Campaign, have driven voter interest and bucked the low turnout trend in #Nigeria’s elections,” it noted.
Despite the daily drama in the political theater, many respondents were certain about their choice for president—a choice that is likely to cross ethnic and religious lines, contradicting popular notions of non-ethnic and religious bias in selecting the next president.
Sequel to that, eligible voters in Africa’s most populous country prioritise the presidential race over all other contested positions in the 2023 election, according to the poll
“All respondents or 100 percent, answered questions about the presidential elections, but only 35 percent responded to questions about the governorship elections, while the interest in state legislature elections was 14 percent,” a report on the poll showed. “The declining interest in down-ballot elections is because most citizens are focused on the presidential election, owing to the power arrogated to the center by the 1999 Constitution.”
Read also: Political rallies, citizen engagement and the 2023 elections
In the same vein, it said that Nigerians are losing faith in the Independent National Electoral Commission’s ability to hold a free, fair, and honest election.
“The relationship between the electorate and the electoral body seems to be affected by the possible effect of insecurity on Election Day, the public’s awareness of a new electoral law, and the biometric accreditation process for voters.
“Only 60 percent of our respondents say they trust INEC to conduct a credible exercise; younger respondents were slightly less likely to trust the umpire than other demographic groups.”
Furthermore, the survey revealed that only 66 percent of respondents were familiar with the Electoral Act of 2022. “Critically, wealthier and older respondents broadly report higher levels of electoral law awareness than younger voters and students, who comprise most voters,” the report noted.
“Nigeria’s elections have a significant impact not just on the country but on the continent, and, indeed, the world, according to SBM. “It is hoped that this information will help people and give institutions, citizens, and the media the information they need to make decisions that will help Nigeria’s future.
“EiE Nigeria and SBM Intelligence will publish a similar report on the governorship elections in the 28 Nigerian states that select their leaders along with the presidency in the lead-up to those elections in mid-March 2023.”