People & Money

2023 Elections: 40% of Rural Nigerians Will Vote for Peter Obi, Nextier Polls 

Peter Obi of the Labour Party has come out on top in yet another opinion poll examining voters’ intentions in the 2023 Nigerian presidential elections.

Relentless attacks over perceived ill-health and countless episodes of incoherent speeches may negatively have impacted the popularity of the APC candidate. Obi supporters gleefully have celebrated the incoherent speeches as evidence of old age and ill health. 

According to the poll which was conducted by NexTier Development Foundation, 40.37% of voters in rural areas of Nigeria expressed a preference for Obi, as against 26.7% for Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, 20.47% for Bola Tinubu of the APC, and 5.16% for Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP. This poll surveyed voters in rural communities across the 6 geopolitical zones in the country. 

This poll pours more fuel on the ambition of Mr. Peter Obi who is running as the dark horse in this race. The poll is another in a series of opinion polls that have pitted Peter Obi as the most preferred candidate in the 2023 presidential election. 

The poll surveyed respondents from rural communities in 12 states of the federation. According to Nextier Development, “rural communities” are townships without tertiary educational institutions. 

To conduct the survey, Nextier selected respondents in states governed by APC and PDP in each of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones: North Central (Nasarawa (APC) and Benue (PDP), North East, (Gombe (APC) and Bauchi (PDP), North West, (Kebbi (APC) and Sokoto (PDP), South-South, (Cross River (APC) and Edo (PDP), South East, ( Imo (APC) and Abia (PDP) and South West (Ogun (APC) and Oyo (PDP). 

The survey’s sample size was about 2000, with an error margin of about 2.2% and a confidence interval of 95%. 

2023: An Unprecedented Nigerian Election

This poll comes as the latest in the series of polls that have shown Peter Obi to be the most preferred presidential candidate. According to an opinion poll conducted in September by We2Geda Foundation among 15,438 registered voters, Peter Obi was preferred by 51%, followed by Atiku Abubakar with 25%, and Bola Tinubu with 19%. 

Also Read: Unprepared: Could Peter Obi Turn Out To Be Another Buhari?

ANAP Foundation’s NOI polls found that Peter Obi was preferred by 21% of the sampled voters, ahead of Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar who each received 13%.

With less than 100 days till the Presidential Elections, Nigerians are waiting to see what surprises the candidates could spring. Nigeria’s 2023 election is unprecedented as the country has not seen a strong third force since the return to democracy in 1999.

Considering all the issues the country faces, it is evident that the next Nigerian president will have a lot to deal with. 

Serious Complications for Tinubu

The credibility of earlier polls that put the Labour Party candidate ahead of the pack of candidates have been called into question because they overwhelmingly relied on young urban voters amongst whom Peter Obi is very popular. Fitch Ratings Polling released in early October has the APC candidate, Ahmed Tinubu as the most likely winner of the 2023 presidential elections. 

The Fitch team explained that earlier polls had overestimated the support for Peter Obi because they “were mostly based on responses gathered online” while quoting World Bank figures which put the percentage of Nigerians who use the internet at 36%.  Indeed, critics dismiss Peter Obi’s support base as existing only on social media, i.e. not the overwhelming majority of Nigerians who actually go out to vote and deliver elections for political parties. 

The NexTier poll suggests that Peter Obi not only has support amongst the category of Nigerians that commentators venerate as the “real voters”. It also suggests that the Labour Party candidate may be racing ahead of the candidates of Nigeria’s two dominant political parties, the APC and the PDP in garnering support amongst Nigeria’s “real voters”.

The NexTier poll ought to cause serious worry in the APC camp. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC candidate trails not only Peter Obi but also Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate amongst virtually all segments of respondents in the NexTier Poll, including voters with low educational attainment, voters with high educational attainments and Muslim voters. 

Relentless attacks over perceived ill-health and countless episodes of incoherent speeches may negatively have impacted the popularity of the APC candidate. Obi supporters gleefully have celebrated the incoherent speeches as evidence of old age and ill health. 

It is impossible to argue that the NexTier poll is not evidence of a higher level of support for Peter Obi than previously assumed. But opponents may still quibble about how truly “rural” the “rural communities” in which NexTier conducted the poll are if Nigerians with “high education attainment” could be found in the communities. (It is not clear what percentage of the respondents could be classified as having high education attainment). 

About 47% of Nigerians live in rural areas. Nigerian elections are decided by winning in rural communities and vast urban areas where the majority of voters who are less educated and less affluent voters than the bedrock of Mr. Obi’s supporters reside.  Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu lead Peter Obi in the NexTier poll amongst uneducated Nigerians and those who did not reveal their education status across all regions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that poor urban youths are also obedient, a term that describes Nigerians who passionately support the Labour Party candidate.  

Further Insights from the Poll

Some of the key insights from the poll include:

  • Peter Obi has the highest net favorability of all presidential candidates among survey respondents at +30 percent. Bola Tinubu is at +4.98 percent and Atiku Abubakar is at +17.3 percent. Kwankwaso is also at -8.70 percent.
  • According to the survey, 76.2% of respondents feel that Nigeria is moving in the wrong direction.
  • According to the survey, respondents see insecurity as the most critical issue. Followed by corruption/bad governance, unemployment, poverty, and food. 
  • Eight out of ten respondents say nothing can persuade them to change their minds and vote for another candidate 
  • Of the respondents whose educational attainments were unknown or with no educational background, Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu were the preferred candidates.
  • Respondents with the most educational attainment, including those with postgraduate degrees, prefer Peter Obi.
  • Peter Obi is the most preferred candidate among all age groups. Atiku Abubakar is second in each of those groups, except for the 65-74 years old group where Bola TInubu is the second most preferred.
  • Atiku Abubakar is the preferred candidate among Muslims, while Peter Obi is the most preferred candidate among respondents who identify as Christian, religious, or non-religious. 
  • Respondents rely primarily on the radio to obtain information about their candidates. Social media and friends/family follow closely.

Breakdown by Region

In the North Central, with polling conducted in communities in Nassarawa and Benue, Peter Obi led with about 59.8% of the respondents.  Atiku Abubakar follows with 18.0% of the votes, and Bola Tinubu with 16.4% of the respondents.  

Also Read: Anambra: Can Peter Obi’s Economic Record Stand a Data Challenge?

Gombe and Bauchi represented the North East. About 50.3% of polled respondents preferred Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.  About 27.2% of the polled respondents prefer Bola Tinubu.  

In the South East, NexTier polled communities in Imo and Abia. Up to 94% of the respondents supported Peter Obi. In the North West (Sokoto and Kebbi), 59.8% of the respondents prefer Atiku, and 25.4% of the respondents prefer Tinubu. 

In the South-South, NexTier polled communities in Edo and Cross River.  Peter Obi led with about 67.3% of the polled respondents, followed by Atiku Abubakar with about 11.9%, and Bola Tinubu with about 10.7%.

Communities from Oyo and Ogun represented the South West. 37.4% of the respondents preferred Tinubu, and 24% of the respondents preferred Peter Obi. The South West also has the highest number of undecided respondents with about 19.8% of the respondents polled still undecided. 

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