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Nigerian Voters Coalesce Regionally Around Buhari

and Yar’adua


Polling data from late January in key Nigerian states indicates that although most Nigerian newspapers

continue to refer to the ruling party candidate (PDP/ Yar’adua) as the front runner, the opposition ANPP/

Buhari ticket may be more popular. However, currently it looks doubtful that Buhari, whose support is

mainly in the North, can pick up enough votes in the South to meet the electoral requirements for victory.1


When asked what presidential party they would be voting for, 37 percent of Nigerians polled in key states

name Muhammadu Buhari’s All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), while 29 percent name the governing

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and 15 percent Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s Action Congress (AC).


Support for each party splits along regional lines: three-quarters of those in Kano and a plurality in Abuja

intend to vote for the ANPP. Meanwhile, the south is a contest between the PDP and the AC: the PDP

currently holds the lead in Enugu and Rivers, whereas the AC is slightly more popular in Lagos.


Nigerians’ party preferences shape who they expect will win the presidency. Overall, nearly four-in-ten

predict Buhari to win, while three-in-ten predict a Yar’adua victory. Nigerians are less confident in

Atiku’s success, perhaps due to the numerous obstacles his campaign is facing; indeed, it is not clear that

his name will even be on the ballot.  Regionally, views correspond to patterns of party support, with many

more in the North anticipating a victory by the ANPP’s Buhari.


[1Electoral law requires the winner to obtain the highest number of votes and win at least 25 percent of

the ballots cast in 24 states. Results are based upon findings from a face-to-face survey conducted in five

Nigerian states (Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Enugu and Rivers) between January 17th and January 29th 2007.


In theory, the margin of error at the national level is +/- 3 percent. For further details, please see the

methodological report

on page 4. Report prepared by Cara J. Carter (altaltaltaltaltaltaltaltalt202-203-7927;]


Character traits showcase Buhari’s appeal.

Nigerian perceptions of candidates’ character traits may help explain support for candidates. Of all the

candidates, Buhari is most frequently associated with integrity, leadership, accountability, honesty and

transparency. Nigerians are more skeptical about these qualities in Atiku and Yar’adua.


Atiku supporters could determine outcome of election.

Nigerian election law requires the winner to obtain the highest number of votes and win at least 25% of

the ballots cast in two-thirds (24) of the thirty-six states. Currently, Buhari holds an overall lead, yet he

has little southern support. If Atiku is unable to get his name on the ballot, AC supporters, most of whom

are in the South, could help Buhari meet the electoral threshold required for victory.


Assuming Atiku isn’t on the ballot, an analysis comparing AC/Atiku supporters’ views of both Buhari and

Yar’adua sheds light on which candidate they may support. Those in the South view Yar’adua more

favorably on most aspects, while those in the North lean towards Buhari. Thus, while Buhari may pick

up some votes from Atiku supporters, the data suggests that those in the South, where he needs the most

support, tend to look more favorably upon Yar’adua.


Buhari’s campaign limited to North.

Buhari’s limited reach with his ANPP campaign is one additional indicator of his struggle to gain a

foothold in the South. Although 72 percent of Nigerians mention that they have come in contact with

campaign activities, those in the South indicate little exposure to the ANPP.


Registration, although delayed, was successful. Although there was considerable criticism of the

registration process, eight-in-ten report being registered to vote.





Poll results are from a January 17- January 27, 2007 public opinion survey conducted by a reputable

Nigerian research firm. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2500 adult Nigerians (aged 18-60)

in five key states: Lagos, Enugu, Abuja, Kano, and Rivers. These were intended to be representative of

five of Nigeria’s six regions, with only the North East left unrepresented. Sixty percent of the interviews

were conducted in urban locations and forty percent were conducted in rural areas.


As a guideline for interpretation, in 19 cases out of 20, results based on random samples of this size will

differ by no more than about 3 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained

by polling all residents in the target areas. The margin of error for differences between regional and

demographic subgroups is larger. In addition to sampling error, the practical difficulties of conducting

a survey of public opinion may introduce other sources of error into the results.


For additional information on the methodology of the survey, or for further analysis of the data, please

contact Cara J. Carter (, altaltaltaltaltaltalt202-203-7927).





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