Month of March Opinion Poll: Jonathan still leads them all

Month of March Opinion Poll: Jonathan still leads them all


The forthcoming presidential election on April 9, 2011, is likely going to be a straight fight between People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

According to the findings of the second national opinion poll concluded at the weekend by the Covenant Opinion Poll Unit (CUOPU), the fear of a run-off may also not materialise.

The findings show that President Jonathan would poll 52.2% of the votes, if the elections were held today, while General Buhari is likely to be supported by about 18% of the electorate. Action Congress of Nigeria’s Malam Nuhu Ribadu will come a distant third with 5.3% of the votes. The fourth prominent candidate in the pack is All Nigeria Peoples Party’s (ANPP) Ibrahim Shekarau with just about 1% of the popular votes. All other candidates will share among them three percentage points.

About one-fifth of the population did not indicate who would get their votes.

Although the large percentage of those who refused to disclose how they would vote is likely to alter the distribution of the popular votes somewhat, the difference is not expected to be pronounced.

However, there arel other events that could still happen to change the landscape of the elections. For instance, a serious gaff by Mr President or coming together of opposition parties to present a unified ticket.

Statistically, nonetheless, the President is still expected to win, though with reduced majority, should any of those scenarios play out.

In all, a total of 5,973 out of 6,000 randomly sampled respondents answered our questions in two randomly selected states from each of the six geo-political zones of the country.

The field work which started on March 7, 2011, spanned two and a half weeks.

A state by state analysis of how people said they would vote shows the following scenario:

North Central North East North West South East South South South West
Muhammadu Buhari 5.7% 62.3% 38.3% 0.2% 0.9% 0.2%
Goodluck Jonathan 28.4 26.6 47.4 75.1 83.7 50.8
Nuhu Ribadu 5.7 2.1 4.5 0.9 1.6 15.6
Ibrahim Shekarau 1.7 2.9 0.8 2.4 0.4 0.2
Others 15.0 5.9 0.2 1.3 0.2 1.6
No Response 41.7 5.9 8.7 20.1 13.2 31.6

A look at the above table suggests that North Central, South West, South East and South South are areas where parties and candidates can still trade for votes.


Nigerians are ready to play their civic roles in the forthcoming general elections if the politicians allow them so to do. Indication for this preparedness emerged in a national survey concluded on Friday (25/03/11) by the Covenant University Opinion Poll Unit (CUOPU).

This is the second such national survey to be conducted by CUOPU since December 2010.

The respondents were asked if they registered during the recently concluded voters’ registration exercise. Eighty-nine percent of the 6,000 electorate polled said they registered. This confirmed what the electorate said during the first survey when more than 80% said they would register during the exercise.

For those who registered, three reasons influenced their decision to enlist to vote. The first reason given by a majority of 50% of those interviewed was: “It is my civic duty to vote.” They are followed by 27.8% that said “I want to choose who will govern me.” Another 12.7% said they felt their votes would count this time around.

This is a welcome development for politics in Nigeria, and for democracy in particular, when compared to the pervading pessimistic belief of the recent past that votes did not always count in Nigerian elections. About one in ten said they wanted to have “a say” in how they are governed.

For those who did not register during the voters’ registration exercise, three reasons also dominated their excuses. Almost one-third (31.9%) said they knew their votes would not count; about 30% said they were not interested while another 28.3% said they did not have the time to spare to register.


Asked if our respondents would vote during the April general elections, 88.3% said they would vote. This compares favourably with the 89% that said they registered.

If these statistics are anything to go by, there would be a massive voter turn-out during the elections that begin on Saturday, April 2, 2011.

When asked to state which parties’ candidates they would vote for, 52.2% said they would vote for President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party. (CPC) Muhammadu Buhari trails with 17.9% of the popular votes while Malam Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is the choice of 5.3% of the electorate. Shekarau is preferred by 1.4% of the respondents. All other parties fielding candidates in the presidential election are preferred by 3% of the interviewees while about one-fifth of the population of eligible voters, 20.1%, did not indicate their preferences. .

For those who said they would not vote, their reasons ranged from lack of interest, 39.5%; perception of the exercise as a waste of time, 26.6%; belief that their votes would not count, 10.8%; and failure to register, 9.9%. Another 6.8% said politicians would rig the elections anyway.


As at the time of the survey, between the first and the third week of March, many voters had made up their minds which candidates or parties they would vote for.

When asked: “Do you yet know the candidate you would vote for in the following offices?”, the following picture emerged from their responses:

Presidential: 72.2% answered in the affirmative; Governorship: 82.3% said they had made up their minds (in the 12 states sampled in the six geopolitical zones of the country); Senatorial: 75.4% said they knew their candidates; House of Reps: 73.4% claimed they knew who they would cast their votes for.

From the above data, it is clear that the electorate rooted more for politicians closer to them than Mr President that they may never see in the entire tenure of four years.

Pressed to give reasons why they would vote for those candidates, a majority of 26.4% said they believed those were the candidates who would deliver on their promises. Slightly more than one in five, 20.6%, said they were the most capable of all the candidates. While 15.8% would vote for them simply because they liked them, 12.3% would vote for them because they liked what the candidates were promising. A little over 9% said they thought their candidates were honest.

While 7.6% claimed they would vote their candidates because they liked their parties, 6.4% said they would vote for them because they belonged to the same parties.

It is significant to note, if the politicians would let the electorate be, that the people are now beginning to be motivated to vote for concrete issues that ought to matter to them. For example, perceived ability to deliver on promises, capability to perform efficiently and promises being made by the candidates, are fairly new in our voters’ lexicon. These are the issues on which elections are fought, won or lost in other climes; not mundane matters of bread, sugar, salt or rice.

Of those who said they would not vote, more than a quarter of them would not vote because they knew little or nothing about those contesting. For instance, a majority, 26.9% said it would not vote because “I want to vote for people I know something about.”

More than a fifth, 23%, said they were not going to vote because they had really “not taken interest in knowing them” (the contestants).

Other reasons given are: “I don’t know what they want to do for us,” 11.9%; “There is no information about them,” 10.7%; and “They have not come out for me to know them,” 6.8%. Slightly more than a fifth, 20.8%, did not say why they would not vote.

We asked the respondents to assess the voters’ registration that was carried out between last December and early January this year.

A little more than a third, 33.8%, said the exercise was successful. Another one-third of the population adjudged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to have done its best. About 16% of the interviewees were of the opinion that the registration exercise showed that the “elections will be free and fair.

While 5% said it meant that INEC would not be able to conduct a free and fair election, 4.2% adjudged it an outright failure; 7.9% had nothing to say about it.


The majority of our respondents, 25.1%, were aged between 22 and 30 years. This category was followed by those aged between 31 and 40 years; about the same number, 20.3%, did not indicate their ages. Ages 18 to 21 and 51 to 60 years were represented in the sample by the same number of interviewees – 10.9%. Those aged 51 years and above were only 11% of the population.

A majority of 46.3% of the respondents was married; 30.2% were single while 5.1% were either divorced or widowed. About 18% did not indicate their marital statuses.

Businessmen and women and traders constituted the single largest occupational group. They were 17.8%. Other occupational groups were: students, 14.9%; teaching and other professional groups, 10.% each; farmers, 9.4%; artisans, 7.3%; the unemployed and housewives bear the rear with 5.3% and 4.6% respectively. Slightly more than 15% did not mention their occupations.

Of those who answered our questions, 59.7% were male while 31.9% were female.


Covenant Opinion Unit is a unit in the Directorate of Covenant University Centre for Research and Development (CUCERD). The Unit is headed by Prof Idowu Sobowale, a political communicator, precision journalist and head, Department of Mass Communication. Other members of the team are Prof. Theophilus Fadayomi, a renowned demographer, economist and social researcher; Dr Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu and Dr Dokun Omojola, both of the Department of Mass Communication; Dr Charles Iruonagbe, a developmental sociologist; Dr Michael A. Gesinde, a psychologist; Dr Matthew Egharevba, a political sociologist ;
Dr Gbadebo Adejumo,a psycho-metrician; Mr Oluwaseun Kilanko, a mathematician; and Mrs Mary Aboyade, a computer expert and now Registrar, Landmark University.

The surveys, which include an electronic component, are wholly funded by Covenant University as part of the University’s contribution to the growth of democracy in Nigeria.