By Confidence Uwazuruike
Last Friday, Nigeria’s electoral commission confirmed that 79 candidates will contest the country’s presidential election in February 2019. There are predictions, however, that the contest will be primarily between the two main political parties in the country—the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Most of these predictions are based on patterns of past elections and the belief that only the APC and the PDP have a national spread.
Candidates of fringe political parties have argued that data from previous elections also show that majority of eligible voters do not participate in general elections. This untapped part of the electorate, likely dissatisfied with the political status quo, is the main target of alternative candidates as well as regular voters that have been disappointed by the current political class. Most (if not all) of these candidates rate their chances highly and several have expressed optimism. But are they as popular as they think and are prospective voters listening to them?
One way to explore this is to examine data from social media. Social media networks such as Twitter are somewhat the new public sphere—at least to the extent that members of the public can interact unmediated among themselves on issues they consider important. In fact, a medium such as Twitter enlarges this sphere and brings members of diverse communities closer.
For a person to win an election, they need to be popular; they should be in public discourse. On Twitter, this will naturally manifest through mentions, replies, tweets and retweets. This is what I test in this article. In the end, we should know, at least from the perspective of Twitter users, who the serious presidential candidates are.
What does the data indicate?
What do these mean? The data suggest that Oby Ezekwesili is the best chance among the outsiders of a potent contender for the presidency. Perhaps, if other alternative candidates support her, her chances will be much more improved. I don’t see that happening, however.
Full analysis at: https://afritondo.com/2018/11/01/nigeria-election-2019-are-fringe-presidential-candidates-really-contenders/amp/?__twitter_impression=true