By Leke Adeseri, South-West Regional Editor & Emmanuel Edukugho, Education Editor
If the only problem the next president of Nigeria would solve is the epileptic power supply to the country, he would have pleased many of his compatriots.
In a survey just released by Covenant University Opinion Poll Unit (CUOPU), nearly a quarter of the population (about 24%) said this was the most pressing problem facing the country today.
Apart from the North Eastern zone, where a slight percentage of the people (21.8% against 19.3%) rated insecurity of life and property higher, electricity was the preoccupation of people across the length and breadth of the country (see the table below).
Other issues the respondents considered most pressing were kidnapping (13.6%), insecurity of life and property (8.3%), roads (7.6%) and resource control (7.5%).
Other problems Nigerians identified as pressing were the economic down_turn, the perceived falling standard of education, cost of living, falling living standards, industrial growth, portable water supply, true federalism and revenue sharing formula, in that order.
Housing was considered pressing by only about one out of 10 persons (0.9%).
The emphasis of Nigerians on electricity as the major challenge facing the country today does not appear misplaced in view of the centrality of energy to the economic empowerment of the people and other facets of our national life.
Jonathan is leading Presidential Candidate
If Presidential elections were to be held today, President Goodluck Jonathan would probably win _ hands down, too.
The indication of this emerged from a national survey just conducted by Covenant University Opinion Poll Unit (CUOPU).
However, he has a hurdle to cross. He must first be nominated by his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Asked to indicate whether or not they wanted him to contest the 2011 Presidential election, 70.7% of the 4493 Nigerians who responded to the survey said they wanted him to contest the election.
Across the geopolitical zones, the story was much the same. Except in the North East, where slightly less than two out of five persons (39.3%) said they did not want him to contest, there was no other geopolitical zone where less than two_thirds of the people said they wanted him to contest the election in 2011.
While this question, “Some people do not want President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2011 Presidential elections, what is your own view?” might not have addressed the question of those who would vote for him, it addressed the debate on zoning at that time. People seemed not to have been bothered about any zoning agreement among members of his political party _ the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The electorate were asked to proffer reasons for wanting him to contest the election.
A majority of the people, 42.6%, said that they thought he would be a good President, judging from what he had done since succeeding the late President Umar Yar’Adua. Nearly 15% said they just liked him.
Other reasons given for wanting him to contest the election were the belief that his administration would benefit ordinary Nigerians (16%), and that he was more likely to hold Nigeria together (11.5).
Some of the respondents argued that it was constitutionally right for him to contest the election; nearly the same number of people said they just liked him.
About 4.1% said he was cool and calm while 2.5% was of the opinion that he would ensure justice and fairness in the Niger Delta region. Almost two in ten persons held the view that the PDP zoning formula was illegal while only about one in ten said they wanted him to contest because he came from the same zone as them.
Those who did not want him to contest canvassed a variety of reasons for their position. Prominent among their reasons were:”He will not be able to focus on the major problems of Nigeria such as corruption, power and god-fatherism (14.7%).
Some said he would violate the zoning principle of his political party, PDP; he would rob the North of their chance to complete their eight_year tenure, according to the PDP; and that it was not the turn of South_South to contest the office. Almost the same percentage of interviewees, about 11%, gave these party loyalty related excuses.
A sizeable proportion said he would concentrate too much on the Niger Delta, where he comes from; others did not think he would be a good president; yet some others felt that his decision to contest would create instability in Nigeria; and that” he is too cool and not dynamic enough to rule Nigeria”, in that order. Nearly 3% believed that politicians “will put him in their pocket”.
Nigerians take their destiny in their hands
Nigerians seem determined to take their destiny in their own hands come 2011. More than four out of every five of the 4493 respondents that were polled nationally in the recent Covenant University Opinion Poll Unit (CUOPU) said they would vote in the coming general elections in 2011.
While 5.7% said they would not vote, 8.3% said they had not made up their mind yet whether or not they would vote.
Two reasons, according to the respondents, informed their decision to vote. The first was the recognition that “It is my civic duty” to vote (45.6%). The second important reason was “I want to have a say in choosing whoever will rule over me” (26.3%).
This evidence appears to be heralding a new disposition in the Nigerian electorate, who in the past had displayed disenchantment and despondence when it came to going out to perform this important civic duty.
Some of the reasons they had adduced in previous elections were the deceit, dishonesty and inability of politicians to keep their promises. Many had complained then that no matter what they did, they knew that their votes would not count.
Other reasons they gave for wanting to vote this time around were: “I think things will be better this time around (9.8%;)” “I am now old enough to vote (6.9%);” “If I don’t vote, I won’t have a right to complain (6.8%). About one in a quarter said they really could not say why they wanted to vote.
About the same proportion of those who said they would not vote, more than one_fifth, said they would not bother because “Previous elections have not yielded good results”; and “I don’t think my vote will count.”
Nearly one_fifth said they would not vote because “Politicians will rig the elections anyway.” Other minor reasons provided were: “It is a waste of time on my part,” and “I yet can’t see any candidate to vote for.”
Another group of more than one in five said it did not know why it would not vote.
Respondents reject former leaders
The report said majority of Nigerians are opposed to those who have ruled this country in the past contesting 2011 presidential election.
In the national survey of 4493 Nigerians, slightly more than half; 51.4% said they should not be allowed to contest. While 37.9% said they should contest because it was their right, 10/6% said it did not matter to them if they contested or not.
Asked to state the most important reason for not wanting them to contest, the respondents gave a number of reasons. Close to a third of them, 30.5% said they caused the problems of this country.
About 17% claimed their administrations encouraged corruption in Nigeria.
Those who felt that if they are elected, their governments would worsen the problems of this country were 12.5% of those sampled. Another 11.9% were of the opinion the aspirants had no answers to the problems of this country during their tenures; what magic would they now perform?
While 10.7% said they “are tired, they should go and rest,” another 10% said their were younger and more brilliant min “out there.”
While 5.8% said they did not wan them there for other unspecified reasons, 1.5% said they would not be respected by the international communities if elected.
Those who said it was their inalienable right to contest also gave their reasons. A majority of them, 28.8% said, “they know the problems of this country.”
The second largest group, 18.5%,. Felt “they are in a better position to solve the problems of Nigeria. Another important reason offered was that the experience of those who had trodden the path before would stand them in a good stead in dealing with issues of concern of Nigerians.
Other interesting points they noted include the advice that “Nigerians should not discard their experience,” 8.9%,.”Nigerians will fare better” under any of them, 3.9%; “they will be respected more by the international community, 3.6%; and “they already have enough money, therefore, they won’t steal.” another fifth of the respondents gave other unspecified reasons.
How It Was Done
A representative sample of Nigerians from all parts of the country, using the six geopolitical zones as the basis for sampling, was taken.
Two states were sampled from each of the geopolitical zones. Two local government areas, from which five wards were randomised, were also randomly selected from the states.
Streets or compounds (depending on location) were equally randomly selected according to a known and accepted scientific procedures. Tenements and specific flats or rooms from which respondents for interviews were finally selected were randomly picked.
Six coordinators who are senior academics of this university underwent an induction course. They later left for the zones where they directed the survey exercise.
Data processing was coordinated by Mrs. Mary Aboyade, a data analysis expert from CSIS and Information Services, Covenant University.
Analysis of Data and report writing were coordinated by Prof. Idowu Sobowale.
Profile of CUOPU Members
The Covenant University Opinion Poll Unit (CUOPU) is a unit under Covenant University Centre for Research and Development (CUCERD). The Unit, which includes a renowned Professor of Demography, Prof. Theophilus Fadayomi, is headed by Prof. Idowu Sobowale, head, Department of Mass Communication, Covenant University.
Prof. Sobowale is a political communicator, who introduced opinion polling into Nigeria in 1978, when he established The Punch Opnion Polls (POP).
Others members of the unit are Dr. Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu, immediate past Head, Department of Mass Communication and Secretary of CUOPU; Dr. Victor Temidayo Omotosho, lecturer in the Department of Physics; Dr. Matthew. Egharevba, a political sociologists and lecturer in Sociology; Dr. Charles Tunde Iruonagbe, a development scholar and lecturer in the Department of Sociology; Mrs. Mary Aboyade, Deputy Director, Data Management Unit, Centre for Systems and Information Services (CSIS); Dr. Dokun Omojola, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, who was a writer with both Daily Times and The Guardian newspapers; and Mr. Oluwaseun Kilanko, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.