Nigerian presidential election initially slated for February 14th was postponed for a 6 week period and rescheduled for March 28th, 2015. As the presidential election approaches with major party candidates in a war of character assassination rather than on the issues, those policy and performance matters taking the back seat. Generally, the recent activities of the political parties in trying to gain the loyalty of voters shows that Nigerians are indecisive, considering the propaganda used by the two political parties-PDP and APC. The branded gifts, brown envelops given to electorates to buy their votes by the two parties are acts of corruption in itself. None of them is the better.
The Survey by Sahara Reporters showed detailed overview of survey questionnaire comprised of 42 questions covering the following topics: (a) demographic questions covering gender, educational attainment, income, region of origin, place of domicile and location at which voter’s registration was done (b) 2011 electoral choices (c) 2015 voting intent (d) respondents’ political views and (e) motivating factors for the choice of Presidential candidate. The survey emphatically confirmed that Muhammadu Buhari is on track to win the 2015 Presidential elections with about 32.3 million total votes, while Goodluck Jonathan will obtain about 7.7 million votes. The combined tally for the two candidates will average about 40 million votes. But it was earlier reported that Jonathan would win the South East (65%) and South South (71%) geo-political zones, but the new survey results indicate that he will likely lose to Buhari in the two regions winning only about 42% of the votes in the South East and 38% in his own region, the South- South. It is not clear to us whether the issue of corruption was conflated by respondents to be an all-encompassing issue that affects other key areas of voter’s concern. This would be the case if respondents believed that the security challenges and the inability of the Nigerian military to effectively contain the Boko Haram crisis are linked with corruption. Similar sentiments that might blame lax economic growth on corruption and embezzlement of funds, could also potentially explain why corruption is taking on a central role in this electoral cycle. While the underpinning factors that have made corruption the primary driver of the 2015 elections are not very clear, the fact is that majority of voters (59%) are making their choice for president based on the corruption standing of the candidates, with a larger number of them (58% of all voters) selecting Muhammadu Buhari as the clear anti-corruption champion compared to 0.8% for Jonathan. These numbers are a significant boon for Muhammadu Buhari. It appears that events in the last 6 weeks have further cemented in the minds of voters, their perception that Jonathan and the government he leads is corrupt. In a clear reversal of the 2011 polling results, Muhammadu Buhari also leads Jonathan amongst Christian voters (72% vs 28% for Jonathan ), while he has a staggering 96% advantage over Jonathan amongst Muslim respondents (98% vs 2%). This can be concluded that the Vice Presidential candidate Yemi Osinbajo is the reason for the sudden love for Buhari. While the story might seem generally positive for Buhari and the APC, the survey results however reveal some deep issues that voters have with both candidates and parties. Nigerians do not view Buhari or the APC as being particularly strong on the economy and in job creation – which are amongst the top priorities of voters. Should our results be validated and Buhari and the APC triumph at the polls, they can expect a short honey moon period, as voters will very quickly begin to expect to see results in the key areas of major concern; ending the Boko Haram insurgency, driving economic growth, tackling unemployment & job creation, and solving the lingering power crisis. Buhari’s mandate – if he wins, will not be to wage a war on corruption to the exclusion of the actual issues that matter to voters. He and his party will have to do more than usual promises.