* Jonathan seen ahead in main polls
* Ruling party expected to lose some states
* Buhari seen as main rival, Ribadu remote third
By Nick Tattersall
LAGOS, March 22 Nigerian President Goodluck
Jonathan is on course to win April elections but the ruling
People's Democratic Party (PDP) could lose control of several
states, according to local opinion polls.
The surveys, published in Nigerian newspapers this week,
vary widely in detail and scientific quality -- one claimed to
have had 70 million SMS responses, roughly equivalent to every
adult in the country -- but they broadly show a common trend.
A poll published by the This Day newspaper carried out with
global research group Ipsos showed just over 60 percent of
respondents would vote for Jonathan, with his nearest rival,
former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, on 22 percent.
But it said the picture was different at a regional level.
"A noticeable trend is the likelihood that the PDP may win
the governorship in a state and lose the presidential in the
same state, or vice versa," it said.
Nigeria holds presidential elections on April 9, with
parliamentary elections a week earlier and governorship
elections in the 36 states a week later. [ID:nLDE6AM2BY]
The PDP candidate has won every presidential race in
Africa's most populous nation since the end of military rule 12
years ago and history is expected to repeat itself in April.
But to win in the first round, Jonathan needs to secure 25
percent of the vote in at least two thirds of the states, or
else he will face a run-off with his nearest rival.
Buhari -- a disciplinarian who ruled between December 1983
and August 1985 and is best remembered for his "War Against
Indiscipline", a campaign against corruption -- is expected to
win strong support in parts of the north. [nLDE72F2I3]
The This Day/Ipsos poll -- carried out between Feb. 25-March
16 in all 36 states and the capital Abuja -- gave Buhari a clear
lead in five northern states and a narrower lead in six others.
RIBADU SEEN DISTANT THIRD
Former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu is hoping to secure
strong backing for his presidential bid in the southwest, the
stronghold of his Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party, but
the poll put him on just 4.7 percent of the overall vote.
It said 92 percent of respondents in Nigeria's most populous
city of Lagos, in the southwest, would vote for sitting state
governor Babatunde Fashola (ACN) in the governorship election,
but 80 percent would vote Jonathan for the presidency.
Jonathan inherited power after the death of late northern
President Umaru Yar'Adua last year and is seeking what would
have been Yar'Adua's second term.
Buhari is hoping to capitalise on northern resentment at his
candidacy but would need Ribadu to perform well in the southwest
if he is to have a hope of forcing a run-off.
A second poll carried out by local firm NOI Polls, which has
a partnership with Gallup, said 68 percent of Nigerians approved
of Jonathan's performance so far as president.
The poll, commissioned by Nigerian civil society group the
ANAP Foundation, said 53 percent of respondents expected
Jonathan to win the April polls.
It said 73 percent of those questioned were aware that
Buhari was running for president, while only 48 percent were
aware that Ribadu was standing.
Jonathan has just completed a high-profile tour of the 36
states. Buhari's campaign is ongoing, while Ribadu's has been
comparatively low key.
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the
top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ )
(Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Giles Elgood)