By ANAP Foundation
Ahead of the forthcoming 2023 Nigerian Presidential elections, a third and final nationwide opinion poll was commissioned by Anap Foundation and conducted by NOI Polls Limited (NOIPolls). This third Poll in the series was concluded in the first half of February 2023 and follows two earlier Polls carried out (using the exact same methodology) in September and December 2022. We believe our baseline Presidential Poll published on 15 September, 2022 was the first well-publicised national poll released in connection with the 2023 Presidential elections, which was followed by a Bloomberg poll published on 28 September, 2022.
For the avoidance of doubt, it is pertinent to mention that the methodology used by NOIPolls is almost the exact same methodology that was used in previous Presidential Polls that they handled for us in 2011, 2015 and 2019. In all those past Presidential Polls, the front-runner that was identified by our Polls ended up winning the elections, irrespective of a rather large percentage of voters who were Undecided and/or Refused to indicate who their preferred candidate was. We have also applied the exact same methodology in our various Governorship Polls carried out in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2019 and 2022 and the methodology generally held up well. We are of course aware of some significant differences between the 2023 Presidential race and those of prior years e.g. 1) A longer Campaign season: 2) the presence of 4 major candidates instead of 2; and 3) greater voter enthusiasm.
In December 2022, we took the extra step to expand the methodology in our 2nd Presidential Poll in this series by carrying out 3 different polls using sample sizes of 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 and confirmed that (as expected) the results did not change significantly. This notwithstanding, we chose a sample size of 2,000 for our third and final poll in February 2023 as opposed to the 1,000 sample size we used for the published September and December 2022 poll.
Our 3rd and Final Poll result in February, 2023 reveals that Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) remains in the lead, with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) both trailing him. Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) emerged as the lone outsider. Mr. Peter Obi leads, with 21% of registered voters proposing to vote for him if the presidential election were to be conducted today; and 13% proposing to vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who fell in second place. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was third with 10% and Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso was a distant fourth with 3% of voters proposing to vote for him.
Given the large pool of Undecided Voters and/or those who Refused to disclose their preferred choice, Mr. Peter Obi’s 8%-point lead at this stage is significant, but not sufficient to separate him from a leading pack of candidates scoring 13%, 10% and 3%. Undecided voters and those who prefer not to reveal their preferred candidate add up to a whopping 23% and 30% respectively. The gender split of undecided voters shows that 27% of women are undecided versus 18% of male registered voters.
The percentage of registered voters and/or voters with their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) is as follows in each of the zones – 96% in the North East, 93% each in the North West and South East. Slightly lower voter registration percentages were recorded in the North Central with 92%, South West with 89% and the South South with 88%. Accordingly, maximum voter participation across the 6 Geopolitical Zones, now range within a narrow band of 88-96%. This differs significantly from what obtained in 2015 where maximum voter participation was highest in the North West Zone at 80% and lowest in the South South Zone at only 60%.
The chart below captures the overall position of the four (4) leading Presidential candidates by aggregating and weighing their scores in proportion to population totals across Nigeria based on the findings of our September 2022, December 2022 and February 2023 polls. In comparison to previous polls, the percentage of undecided and refused voters increased significantly from 38% in 2019 to 53% as at the time of this poll showing that a host of voters are either still seated on the fence, barely 14 days to the general elections or are refusing to disclose their preferences. Our agreed methodology does NOT allow NOIPolls staff to attempt to cajole unresponsive voters into making a choice on the phone because we believe that violates the rights of a voter.
When asked if religion would affect the choice of respondents, data gathered voluntarily showed that 9% of the respondents replied in the affirmative to religion influencing their choice of candidates but 87% on the other hand, responded that their choices were not being influenced by religion; in the same vein, 7% responded in the affirmative to ethnicity affecting their choice of candidates while 89% responded that their choices were not influenced by ethnicity.
Furthermore, the data summarizes the top five reasons why voters are more inclined to vote in the forthcoming elections, as follows: – The need to tackle insecurity (36%), Inflation (26%), Unemployment (11%), Poverty alleviation (6%) and Education (5%).
It is worthy of note that 81% of those aged 18-25, 83% of those aged 26-35, 85% of those aged 36-45, 89% of those aged 46-60 and 81% of those aged 61+ responded that they would definitely vote in the coming elections. The age groups that expressed the greatest willingness to vote were those between 36-45 and 46-60 years.
The Poll shows that almost 9 in 10 registered voters (the highest we have recorded since we started gathering this data) now say that they are absolutely certain that they would be voting in the 2023 presidential election as compared to 8 in 10 registered voters in 2019. If they stay committed over the course of the next fortnight and, in the absence of aggravated security concerns or unresolved PVC collection challenges, we could witness a huge turnout in the February 2023 Presidential elections.
While this Poll result shows some very significant trends, it is key to note that the eventual outcome lies in the hands of the voters who are Undecided and/or Refused to disclose the identity of their preferred candidate, as they could ultimately decide which candidate takes the overall lead to emerge as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2023 Presidential elections.
The high percentage of voters (38%) who refused to disclose their preferred candidate in the South West Zone is worrisome.
For other zones, those who refused to disclose their preferred candidate ranged from 18-36%. At 38%, the South West figure is an outlier. Historically, an exceedingly high percentage of voters refusing to disclose their preferred candidate has usually been associated with perceptions/fears (real or imagined) of possible voter intimidation within a geographical area. Other possibilities abound e.g. voters not wanting to reveal that they appear to be voting on the basis of ethnicity and/or religion, or voters not being comfortable disclosing on the phone that they wish to vote for a candidate other than the one from their own ethnic and/or religious grouping. We are also aware of the pressures that come from voters seeking to appear trendy and multiple other factors at play.
Our conclusion is that, using our tried and tested method of sampling since 2011, the 2023 Presidential Elections are too close to call, notwithstanding the fact that, whoever was at the top of the polls based on this exact same methodology in 2011, 2015 and 2019 eventually won the elections. This time Mr. Peter Obi has been the front-runner throughout, but we caution that the Undecided/Refused vote is still too high (in early February 2023) to be ignored. We had thought that by delaying our 3rd and Final Poll until early February 2023 we would see a collapse of the Undecided Vote. The reality is that the reduction in the Undecided Vote has been more than offset by the increase in the number of voters who refuse to disclose the name of their preferred candidate. When we carried out our first and baseline poll in September 2022 we thought a long campaign period would lead to different candidates taking turns to lead the field. That has not been the case. This long drawn out race has been surprisingly stagnant.
Atedo N A Peterside CON,
President & Founder, Anap Foundation
NOIPolls Limited is No.1 for country-specific polling services in West Africa. It conducts periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com.
Anap Foundation is a Non-Profit Organization committed to promoting good governance. Anap Foundation has commissioned a series of Election polls since 2011 with the main objective of providing information on opinion research during election periods. Anap Foundation contracted NOIPolls to conduct similar polls for the Presidential elections in 2011, 2015, 2019, September 2022 & December 2022 and for the Ekiti State Governorship elections in 2014 & 2022 and also for the Lagos,Kaduna and Rivers State Governorship elections in 2015, as well as Sokoto, Kano, Rivers & Lagos in 2019 and for Lagos, Kwara, Kano, Rivers & Abia State Governorship elections in 2022. Our Presidential Polls now use a sample size of 2,000 approx. Sampling was done via stratified random sampling and interviews were conducted via mobile telephone calls in the preferred language of the respondent. The Margin of Error for the February 2023 Presidential Poll is 3.25%, with a confidence level of 95%. More information on Anap Foundation and our approved Polling Methodology is available at www.anapfoundation.com