Exit Before Polls: The likely outcome of the 2015 Presidential elections in Nigeria


The 2015 Presidential election scheduled for March 28th 2015 is days away and the excitement is building up on the decisive outcome. Usually, exit polls are taken as voters leave a polling booth as a representation of their voting behaviour to predict the outcome of an election. It is apparent that the 2015 Presidential election will be a 2 horse race between incumbent President Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition leader Gen Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The trend in past elections has been that a Presidential candidate stands the chance of winning at least 25% of the votes cast in a particular state if his/her party controls that state. However, there could be a reversal of this trend in 2015 judging by the fact that some states in Northern Nigeria which are strongholds of Gen Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) are controlled by the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The 2015 Presidential election will be a replica of the 2011 elections by good measure because the 2 main contenders in 2011; President Jonathan of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the leader of the opposition and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen Muhammadu Buhari are also the main candidates in this year’s Presidential election. President Jonathan enjoys the advantage of incumbency which is a huge advantage in elections in Nigeria considering all the loopholes inherent in the conduct of elections in our country. Although it must be said that a lot of improvement has been achieved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in terms of fixing the loopholes in our electoral system. This is the first time that a biometric and digital permanent voters card (PVC) have been introduced in Nigeria’s elections. Also, in its drive to check rigging and manipulations in elections, INEC has introduced the card reader to be used at polling booths.

The seeming disenchantment of the Nigerian people with the ruling PDP administration has turned into a political advantage for the APC candidate Gen Buhari. Moreover, Gen Buhari’s proven anti corruption stand has also made him the right choice of the people at this time when the current government is seen to be inherently corrupt in all ramifications. Based on the geopolitical configuration of the country, the presumed support base of President Jonathan will be the South East and the South South while Gen Buhari’s traditional stronghold remains the Northern part of Nigeria particularly the North West and the North East with a reasonable hold on the North Central. Buhari is also expected to sweep the South West geopolitical zone particularly in Lagos, Osun, Ogun and Oyo states where the APC hold sway.

Although the 2011 and the forthcoming 2015 elections share some obvious differences, it could be argued that the 2011 election shares some similarities too with the forthcoming 2015 elections particularly the fact that the 2 main candidates in the 2015 election i.e. President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen Muhammadu Buhari are also the main candidates in 2011. However, one important factor that needs to be taken into consideration is that in 2011, the main opposition political parties challenged the ruling PDP as separate entities namely CPC, ACN and ANPP. However, in the forthcoming 2015 elections, the opposition parties joined forces and merged to form the APC. The opposition is now united both in principle and purpose in their desire to unseat the ruling PDP from power.



Politics is a game of numbers hence the number of registered voters per geopolitical zone vis-à-vis the appeal of the candidates in the geopolitical zones is an important yardstick in predicting the likely outcome of the Presidential election. The country is structured into 6 geopolitical zones viz, The North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East and the South-West. According to INEC figures, the total number of registered voters for the 2015 general elections is 70, 383, 427 which is spread amongst the 6 geopolitical zones as follows:

  1. North- West: Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina State. = 18.4 million voters. (26.86%)
  2. South- West: Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti State. = 13.8 million voters. (19.56%)
  3. North- East: Taraba, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe State. = 10.7 million voters. (15.47%)
  4. North – Central: Kogi, Niger, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Nassarawa and the Federal Capital Territory = 10.8 million voters. (15.18%)
  5. South – South: Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Edo, Cross River, Rivers and Delta State.=9.1 million voters. (12.40%)
  6. South – East: Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Anambra State = 7.5 million voters. (10.53%)

TOTAL = 70.3 million registered voters.


Note: Lagos (APC) has 6.5 million while Kano (APC) has 5.7 million registered voters. Total for Lagos and Kano = 12.2 million voters or 17% of the total number of registered voters.

Out of the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, the PDP currently controls 21 states and Abuja while the APC controls 14 states, and the APGA controls 1 state.

Based on prevailing voter allegiance to both candidates, President Jonathan will dominate in 2 geopolitical zones namely, the South-South and the South – East with a total of 16.6 million voters (23.61%).

Gen Buhari will dominate in 3 geopolitical zones namely: North-West, North East and South-West with a total of 47.67 million registered voters or 67.81%. However it must be said that Taraba state will be a hard nut to crack for Buhari and may be shared between the 2 candidates. However, that may not drastically change Buhari’s fortunes in the elections.

In the North Central geopolitical zone, President Jonathan is likely going to win in Kogi, Benue and Plateau while Gen Buhari will likely win in Niger, Nassarawa, and Kwara states. In terms of the total share of the votes, Gen Buhari is also likely going to win in the Federal Capital territory Abuja. In total, President Jonathan is likely going to win in 15 states while Gen Buhari will win in 21 states and Abuja.

For the 2 geopolitical zones classified as President Jonathan’s stronghold, his party the PDP controls 9 out of the 12 states except Edo, Rivers and Imo which are controlled by the APC. For Gen Buhari, in the 3 geopolitical zones classified as his stronghold, his party, the APC controls 8 states while the PDP controls 10 states. This is one factor which establishes the fact that Buhari’s seeming popularity and likely performance in the 2015 elections will not be tied to whether or not his party the APC controls the state. In an apparent twist, Jonathan’s lacklustre performance as President has further united the country.



The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states in Chapter V1 Part 1 Section A 133 (b) that: A candidate to the office of the President is deemed to have been duly elected if he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This means that a candidate needs to score 25% in at least 24 states of the federation or 23 and Abuja. Based on the foregone analysis, it can be construed that a candidate will win the mandatory 25% of the votes in those states considered to be his strongholds and where he is favoured to have majority share of the votes cast.

In this regard, each of the 2 candidates willalmost certainly win at least 25% of the votes in the following states:


Gen Muhammadu Buhari:

Rivers, Sokoto, Ogun, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Ondo, Kano, Jigawa, Oyo, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Borno, Edo, Yobe, Kwara, Adamawa, Imo, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi Abuja, Lagos, Katsina, Ondo, Ekiti, Kogi, Benue (27 states and Abuja).

President Goodluck Jonathan:

Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Delta, Cross Rivers, Taraba, Niger, Abia, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Gombe, Kaduna (16 states)


The total votes that each of the 2 candidates may score can be predicted from the number of registered voters in the strongholds of each candidate. In the 2011 Presidential elections, voter turn out was 53.68%. However, the turnout for 2015 is projected to surpass that of 2011 based on the fact that the stakes are higher than in 2011. For this reason, the voter turn out for 2015 is projected at 70% with a 5% margin of error. Based on 70% voter turn out, it is projected that a total of 59,755,000 voters will vote during the Presidential elections on March 28 2015.

Based on the total number of voters per geopolitical zone and the strength of the candidates in the geopolitical zones, the projected votes for each candidate are as follows:


Muhammadu Buhari (APC):

North-west =10.01 million (80% of the votes cast)

North– east =5.24 million (70% of the votes cast)

South-west=   6.76 million (65% of the votes cast)

North- Central (winning 3 states) = 3.7 million (55% of the votes cast)

South- East = 1.9 million (30% of the votes cast)

South- South (winning 2 states) = 2.36 million (45% of the votes cast)

Abuja= 370,218 (60% of the votes cast)


Total: 30,248,000votes(Thirty million, two hundred and forty eight thousand votes (61.22% of the votes cast)


Goodluck Jonathan (PDP:

North-west = 2.58 million (20% of the votes cast)

North– east =2.25 million(30% of the votes cast)

South-west= 3.38 million (35% of the votes cast)

North- Central (winning 3 states) = 3.3 million (45% of the votes cast)

South- East = 3.68 million (70% of the votes cast)

South- South (winning 4 states) = 3.50 million (55% of the votes cast)

Abuja= 246,812 (37% of the votes cast)

Total: 18,690,000 votes(Eighteen million, six hundred thousand votes) (32% of the votes cast)


Our exit before polls projection indicates that Gen Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the presumed winner of the 28th March 2015 elections with 30.248,000 votes or 61.22% of the total number of votes. The analysis also indicates that President Jonathan of the PDP is projected to score a total of 18,690,000 votes or 37% of the total number of votes. This analysis is conducted based on a 5% margin of error.

Alkali contributed this piece from Aberdeen-Scotland

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