As the 2023 general election approaches, online polls and a series of solidarity rallies are being held interchangeably across the country. But will they turn into reality at the polls? TOPE SUNDAY asks.
Just five months away from the 2023 general election, the ongoing series of online polls and solidarity rallies in the country are remarkable and are the subject of rhetoric in public domains. A few days ago, social media and mainstream media were flooded with photos and video clips of numerous groups who held rallies for their favorite presidential candidates in some selected cities and towns in Nigeria.
2019 in retrospect
With two weeks to go until the 2019 presidential election, fieldwork by pollster, Williams and Associates, has predicted that opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar will win the election, as reported on the company’s website.
Williams and Associates had, in similar fieldwork in 2015, predicted the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in Nigeria’s last presidential election.
Information posted on the company’s website shows that it deployed the same methodology used in the 2015 forecast to conduct fieldwork for the 2019 election. The activity was conducted between 11 January and January 16, 2019, in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The poll result shows that PDP candidate Atiku will prevail against other candidates in the elections with 45% of the total votes cast, 12% more than his closest challenger, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who got 33%.
Furthermore, UK-based Economist magazine predicted that APC President Muhammadu Buhari will lose the 2019 presidential election to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of PDP.
In a report published by its research unit known as the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the famous magazine predicts that “President Muhammadu Buhari will lose power in the February 2019 elections and the next government will be led by Atiku Abubakar”. of the PDP, even if his administration will be fragile.
But in reality, APC’s Buhari got 15,191,847 votes in the 2019 presidential election to defeat PDP’s Atiku who got 11,262,978 votes. The vote difference between them was 3,928,869.
The new polls
As predicted in 2019 and years before, online polls have also predicted who will win the 2023 presidential election.
In its prediction, Bloomberg released a poll showing Labor Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi leading the way.
The poll, which was conducted by Premise Data Corporation for Bloomberg News and published, showed the Labor Party candidate being the most favored among other candidates as he came out on top of potential voters’ picks.
The media organization noted that most of those interviewed said they had confidence in the fair conduct of the elections and believed their vote would make a difference, despite general disenchantment with Nigeria’s trajectory.
Moreover, in another poll conducted by NOI Polls, Obi was expected to win the election. The poll, commissioned by the ANAP Foundation, suggests a three-horse presidential race between Mr. Obi, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) came forward in the poll and was described as a “dark horse”.
Like Obi, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a branch of The Economist in London, also predicted the victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, in the presidential election of 2023.
The UK-based platform, in the country’s report, said the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket controversy will not affect Tinubu’s chances in the election.
The gatherings of Atiku, Obi and Tinubu
While the opinion/online polls outperform, the crowds at their various solidarity rallies also outperform. The main contenders for the presidential race, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi of the Labor Party (LP) and Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), attracts all crowds in their rights.
But according to the available reports, Tinubu and Obi, whose supporters tested “microphones”, are leading the game.
“Online surveys are just illusions”
Reacting, a lecturer at Federal University Oye Ekiti, Mr. Oluwafemi Fayomi, who spoke to Blueprint Weekend, described online polls as “mere illusions”.
Fayomi, who is part of the university’s political science department, said: “Well, the impact of online polls on electoral reality in Nigeria has not been as effective as in advanced democracies. Indeed, many Nigerians who will vote in the elections are not subscribed to social media platforms, which serve as a source for respondents to online polls.
“According to Lester Malbrath’s submission on why people participate in politics, he classified those who attend political party rallies as mere spectators in his threefold typology of political participation. According to him, many of them do not belong to any political party, while those who belong to a political party may not have voter registration cards.
“It is instructive to note that party identification, rational thinking or analysis of emerging national issues by individual electorate as well as ethno-religious sentiment will go a long way in determining the winner of the 2023 presidential election. It is prudent to regard online polls as mere illusions far removed from reality.
Crowds at rallies do not represent actual voters on Election Day – Barnabas
Also, a lecturer at Baze University, Abuja, Dr. Suleiman Barnabas, told this reporter that crowds at political rallies do not represent actual votes on election day.
He said: ‘Online polls are fine for information, which could inspire more campaign efforts by candidates to draw votes from regions or demographics that polls show they are not. likely to win in the elections.
That said, I firmly believe that neither online polls nor huge crowds at campaign rallies would determine the winners.
“The so-called crowds, regardless of numbers and camera effect, do not represent a significant number of actual voters on election day! Most voters do not participate in campaign rallies and do not even belong to political parties. Also, among the crowds you see are people motivated by stipends to attend rallies.
“So it’s definitely not a reflection of voters’ decision on election day. And politicians know it better than me! The results of online polls are only indicative of the online presence of certain supporters, and these cannot predict the winner of the 2023 presidential election!
Any illusion that arises from this is only unfortunate for a candidate who believes in it.
“Furthermore, how representative was the sampled population? What is the size of the respondent population? What sampling techniques were used and how credible are they to rely on?
“People set the agenda with online polls”
However, a media consultant, Mr Denis Matthew, said people were setting the agenda with online polls, arguing it may not reflect voters’ choice at the polls.
He said: “My view is that I do not see or second the various online polls projecting the winner of the 2023 presidential elections, as some of these polls are sponsored either by the presidential candidates themselves or by their spin-doctors.
“Furthermore, some of those running the polls and the people canvassing these candidates do not have voter registration cards. From then on, the reality will be on the ground during the legislative elections. However, I cannot ignore the fact that those conducting these polls set an agenda of voters’ mindsets with various reasons why they should vote for a particular presidential aspirant. All we ask for as patriotic Nigerians is the assurance of free and fair elections already declared by President Buhari.