As Nigerians prepare to elect a new President in the February 25 Presidential election, a straw poll has put Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as favourite to win the election ahead of other candidates.
Atiku, from Adamawa state in the North-East is running with Ifeanyi Okowa, current governor of Delta state on what is called the Atiku-Okowa ticket.
The straw poll conducted by Guardians of Leadership and Democracy, GLD, a pro-democracy group with focus on leadership, good governance, sustainable democracy, innovation and human capital development, has put Atiku in clear lead over three other top contenders for the plum job.
Straw poll, also known as straw ballot, is usually an ad hoc poll carried out to determine the slant of opinion on an issue or popularity of an individual or group of persons within a community. In modern political communication and marketing, it has become an effective quickfire tool to gauge popularity of issues or suitability of persons for a position.
The group had in the past conducted straw poll (both online and offline) on several national issues and on popularity of categories of Nigerians for certain offices including whether Nigeria should adopt the Parliamentary system of government or continue with the extant Presidential system.
Many respondents to the poll conducted (online and offline) across diverse categories of Nigerians, according to GLD, projected Atiku to win the presidential election.
A press statement issued in Lagos, Wednesday, by GLD Executive Secretary, Dr. Robert Ebelo, said the emergence of Atiku as Presidential candidate of the PDP altered earlier projections of the possibility of the next President emerging from the southern part of the country.
The statement explained that most of the respondents from the north picked Atiku over other candidates. The statement added that straw polls are not scientific polls but they represent opinion at a given time and are subject to change.
In the North-West geopolitical zone, which comprises the seven states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Jigawa, with a total of 22.67 million registered voters, most of the respondents picked Atiku over others. The candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) , Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, came closest to Atiku in the zone.
“Our findings showed that despite repeated pleas for people not to allow issues of religion and ethnicity to determine how they vote, most of the respondents still consider religion and ethnicity as very strong factors that would determine who they vote for.
In the South west with 18.3 million registered voters, Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu showed clear strength with Tinubu slightly edging Obi. The zone which comprises Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo is perceived to be the stronghold of Tinubu. The PDP placed third behind APC and Labour Party in the zone.
This again confirms that ethnicity would be a major determinant in the voting pattern in the forthcoming election.
The same trend showed in the South east where Peter Obi hails from. The straw poll showed Peter Obi in clear lead but Atiku and his PDP also showed huge presence in the zone.
In the North east, Atiku’s zone, the Atiku-Okowa ticket was dominant on the scale with more respondents picking Atiku ahead of the Tinubu-Shettima ticket.
In the North-Central, the poll projected a balance of strength between Atiku-Okowa and Tinubu-Shettima tickets.
However, in the South-south, which is traditionally a PDP stronghold and the zone of Atiku’s running mate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Atiku-Okowa ticket was in clear lead; followed by Peter Obi and his Labour Party.
According to the statement, the 2023 Presidential election contrasts with the norm in the past where the race was always reduced to a two-horse race with one horse being the dominant one, making the contest too easy to call.
Some of the criteria considered by respondents, according to the statement, include ethnicity, fitness, ability to create job and wealth, experience, among other human development indices.