Dirisu Yakubu with agency reports
A new poll conducted by NOIPolls in sync with Business Day Media has showed that Nigerians would prefer middle-aged candidates for the country’s 2019 presidential elections. Propelled Spurred by the recent victory of French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, 39, and increasing discourse and commentary in the social media, this poll aims at gleaning the perceptions and opinions of Nigerians regarding their age preference for those seeking the highest elective office in the land come 2019.
According to the poll, 64 percent of Nigerians say they would prefer to vote for a presidential candidate between the ages of 40 and 50 years; while 15 percent say they would make do with candidates whose ages ranged between 51 and 60 years. Specifically, ages 50 years (33 percent) and 40 years (21 percent) constituted the highest precise age preferences cited by Nigerians.
However, almost half of those interviewed (48 percent) expressed their preference for middle-aged presidential candidates, and asked to advanced reasons for the preferences, 44 percent said middle-aged candidates “combine youthful energy and maturity”, while 23 percent argued that such candidates are likely to be “more mentally alert”. Similarly, 35 percent expressed support for young candidates saying “they bring new and fresh ideas” and “are more vibrant than the elderly.”
It is note-worthy that the findings revealed that 48 percent of Nigerians polled indicated that they would prefer middle-aged presidential candidates, with the South-East (67 percent) and North-Central (63 percent) geo-political zones of the country. This was followed by 35 percent of the respondents who expressed their preference to see young candidates as Presidential flagbearers in 2019; and expectedly, respondents aged between 18 – 35 years accounted for the largest proportion (37 percent) in this category. Not surprisingly, only 10 percent of respondents affirmed their preference for elderly presidential candidates.
Perhaps the biggest take-away from the survey is the willingness of Nigerians to support independent candidates in the 2019 Presidential election. 73 per cent stated their willingness to go for candidates without political platforms, priding competence over parties. Although, there is no provision for independent candidacy in the nation’s Electoral Act; voters would like to see this hurdle lifted to pave way for competent candidates to vie for the highest office even without the backing of any political party. Conversely, 27 per cent say they will not support independent candidacy. Although, across gender, geo-political zones and age groups, majority say they would support independent candidacy.
Interesting as this poll is, it is doubtful if voters would keep faith with these opinions in the course of the elections. This, analysts say, is not unconnected with the nation’s brand of politics which over the years, had been monetized. Thus, it is not impossible that an 80 year-old money-bag Presidential candidate is likely to get more votes than his 45 year-old opponent with insufficient money to throw around. This has been the bane of the leadership recruitment process in the country for years.