Press Release

Buhari Leads, but his lead is not unassailable because Atiku has momentum and may appeal more to Undecided voters

14 February 2019

Ahead of the coming 2019 Presidential elections, a recent nationwide opinion poll commissioned by ANAP Foundation and conducted by NOI Polls Limited at the end of January, 2019 has revealed that the Undecided voters and/or those who prefer not to reveal their preferred candidate add up to a whopping 38% of the electorate.

The Polls confirm a two-horse Presidential race between President Muhammadu Buhari (Buhari) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as all other contestants together scored an insignificant total.

The gender split of the Undecided between women and men is 49:29. The geographical split of the Undecided is also uneven - the outliers were the South East (53% Undecided) and the South West (49%) Zones. Conversely, the North East and North West Zones were at the other end of the spectrum with Undecided votes of only 22% and 25% respectively. In the North Central and South South Zones, the respective percentages were 35% and 45%.

The respondents to our detailed poll tell us that top six (6) reasons for backing PMB are:- Continuity (28%), Fight against Corruption (13%), Integrity (13%), Improving Security (12%) Helping the Poor (8%) and Preferred Choice (6%). Only 2% of PMBs backers are doing so because they expect a Better Economy.

Meanwhile, top 6 reasons for backing Atiku are:- Change in Governance (39%), Better Economy (20%), Better Governance (11%), Preferred Choice (8%), Past Political Records (7%) and Restructuring (5%). 

Voter apathy is strongest in the South East zone where only 61% of the electorate say that they have given some consideration to the forthcoming elections, followed by South South (73%) and the South West (79%). In the North West, North East and North Central Zones, the comparable statistics are 87%, 83% and 80%. 

It is worth noting that all respondents interviewed in this poll are registered voters who had obtained their PVCs and that the voters sample mimicked the INEC register in terms of both zonal distribution and demography. The age groups that expressed the greatest willingness to vote are those between 36-45 and 45-60 years.

From the results, when asked who respondents will be voting for in the coming 2019 Presidential elections, the figures put President Muhammadu Buhari in the lead (with roughly one-third of the votes) over Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (with approximately one-quarter of the votes). Interestingly, both candidates enjoy decent support across gender and age groups. Atiku also has a better spread across all six geopolitical zones. Buhari falls significantly short of 25% in the South East Zone and is also in danger of falling short of 25% in the South South Zone.

Buharis lead is sizeable but not unassailable because the largest concentration of Undecided voters reside in the South East Zone, where he is weakest. Voter turnout can also make a big difference on the day, especially if there is considerable disparity in turnout figures across the geopolitical zones. Buhari was always in the race as the front-runner. Atiku started from zero and has momentum on his side. Given the size of the Undecided vote and its unique and concentration in the 3 Southern geopolitical zones and the North Central Zone, Anap Foundation has concluded that the final outcome is deemed to be too close to call.

The margin of error is within the plus or minus 2.20% error margin at a 95% confidence margin. This means that if the survey was conducted 100 times using the exact same procedures, the margin of error would include the true value on 95 out of 100 surveys.

NOIPolls Limited is No.1 for country-specific polling services in West Africa. It conducts periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at

ANAP Foundation is a Non-Profit Organisation committed to promoting good governance. ANAP has been carrying out a series of Elections polls since 2011 with the main objective of providing information on opinion research during election periods. ANAP Foundation conducted similar polls for the Presidential and Lagos State Governorship elections in 2011 & 2015, and for the Ekiti State Governorship elections in 2014 and also for the Kaduna and Rivers State Governorship elections in 2015. More information on ANAP Foundation is available at