New Constitutional Amendment, in line with Public Opinion

Abuja, Nigeria. August 1st, 2017 - Over the past week, the national assembly took major steps towards amending the 1999 constitution; in light of this, the independent candidacy and the reduction of age restriction bills were amongst other bills approved. Interestingly, these two key amendments are in consonance with the findings from an opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls in May, 2017 which revealed an overwhelming support (73 percent) of Nigerians for independent candidacy in the 2019 elections. In order words, even though there wasn’t any provision for independent candidacy in the country’s Electoral Act, Nigerians disclosed their willingness to support individuals who may decide to run for elective positions on their personal strength, without being affiliated to any political party. 

Also, in line with the national assembly’s decision to reduce the age qualification for presidency, the poll also revealed that Nigerians would prefer a middle-aged (48 percent) president in 2019; mainly because ‘they combine youthful energy and maturity’ (44 percent) and ‘they are more mentally alert’ (23 percent). Moreover, 35 percent expressed support for young candidates; while stating that young candidates will ‘bring new and fresh ideas’ and ‘they are more vibrant than the elderly’. 

Finally, while data has shown that public opinion is in line with recent constitutional amendments, it is worthy to note that the bills approved by the federal legislature can only take effect following the approval of the executive arm of government. Below are some key findings from the 2019 Presidential Election Candidates’ Age Preference poll conducted in May, 2017.

Excerpts of Findings from the NOIPolls survey on 2019 Presidential Election Candidates’ Age Preference

When Nigerians were asked if they would be willing to support independent candidacy in the 2019 presidential election, a significant proportion of the respondents (73 percent) expressed their willingness to support independent candidates. In order words, even though there currently isn’t the provision for independent candidacy in the country’s Electoral Act, Nigerians are of the opinion that if such provision is made, they would be willing to support individuals who may decide to run for elective positions on their personal strength, without affiliations to any political party. However, on the contrary, 27 percent say they will not support independent candidacy. Interestingly, across gender, geo-political zones and age groups, majority say they would support independent candidacy.

 

Subsequently, the poll sought to assess respondents’ age preference for presidential candidates in the 2019 elections. The findings revealed that 48 percent of Nigerians polled indicated that they would prefer middle-aged presidential candidates, particularly in 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 persons emerge as candidates in 2019; and as expected, respondents aged between 18 – 35 years accounted for the largest proportion (37 percent) in this category. Curiously, 10 percent of respondents affirmed their preference for elderly presidential candidates.

 

Lastly, the poll also sought the opinion of Nigerians regarding the maximum age for preferred presidential candidates for the 2019 election and a significant majority of respondents (64 percent) stated that they would prefer candidates between the ages of 40 and 50 years, categorized as middle-age. This was followed by 15 percent of respondents who said they would prefer presidential candidates between the ages of 51 to 60; while 7 percent said they would prefer young candidates aged between 18 to 39 years.

 

In conclusion, clearly the results from this poll (conducted in May) which revealed that most Nigerians prefer young (35 percent) to middle-aged (48 percent) presidential candidates in the 2019 presidential elections; and (73 percent) support for independent candidacy, has helped in stimulating conversations and debates in the media and social space. Our results have also had some implications at least on electoral reforms, particularly on the discussions around age restrictions and independent candidacy while we hope for further reforms on (1) internal political party reforms and the wider subject of youth inclusiveness, candidate selection limits and criteria, and (2) further strengthen advocacy for the #NotTooYoungToRunBill amongst others. Finally, the statistics are clear, young people have the numbers and are becoming more active in the social space. There’s need to translate active social engagement and social media activism into actual political party considerations, which would witness a massive incursion of young people into the political terrain, and taking the bull by the horn, to vie for elective positions come 2019. 

Survey Method

The opinion poll was conducted in the week commencing May 22nd, 2017. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geo-political zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited is the No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com you can also download our mobile app NOIPolls on your smartphone. 

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published. 

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking. 

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[1] http://www.nassnig.org/news/item/545