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By NBF News
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Despite late entry into the race for the Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) ticket for the 2011 polls, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, is making significant inroads among delegates to the convention, cutting into the early gains made by other contestants.

The incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former military  president, General Ibrahim Babangida, immediate past National Security Adviser, Lt. General Aliyu Gusau, and Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, all of whom are bidding for the PDP ticket had an early start while Atiku battled for the reinstatement of his party membership and waiver. But a survey by the London-based research group, International Institute of Social Science Research (IISSR) showed that in most of the states in the country, Atiku has cut significantly into Jonathan's lead and is a favorite for the PDP ticket.

Nuhu Shaibu of the research agency, who briefed newsmen on their findings in Abuja at the weekend, said Jonathan's support in the North is on shaky ground due to the recent bombing incident in Abuja and the way it was handled.

They also found that the recent controversy concerning the alleged award of nine offshore oil wells to Bayelsa State, where the president hails from, has severely shaken Jonathan's supporters in some states of the Middle-Belt. The findings of the survey also reflected the movement of support from Jonathan to other candidates in the South-East.

It cited in particular the government's recent abortion of the Igbo Political Summit in Owerri, Imo State, which had the effect of alienating the President's key supporters in the region. The survey indicated that not even a recent meeting between Jonathan and Dr. Alex Ekwueme, brokered by former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has been able to assuage the feelings of the people of the South-East, who viewed the disruption as an affront on Ndigbo.

'The effect of the radicalization of moderate political leaders in the South-East such as Dr Alex Ekwueme is also showing in the renewed agitation for zoning in the region,' the survey noted. The research, which the report said included responses from 1038 people, the majority of whom are PDP chairmen in 774 local governments and who are statutory delegates to the convention, gave reasons for Atiku's upward climb in the race. According to the Chief Research Analyst, 'Atiku has achieved the unbeaten record of having met between 60-65% of the statutory PDP delegates at home in their states, and in Abuja. Even where they wish to start doing this at the stage, the other candidates don't have the time to do so.'

The research also found that Nigerians remain in a grim mood about the state of the nation. Overwhelming majorities are dissatisfied with their material conditions; are unhappy with the nation's economy and the poor state of electricity supply, and also concerned about corruption and crime.