What used to be termed as inconsequential, online polls have now become a real deal in the political space in Nigeria and has somehow grown prominence among young Nigerians on social media.
The use of social media during the last general elections has given a totally new perception to online polls. Examples of this prominence can be seen in recently organized polls especially on Twitter.
Although, a lot of young Nigerians believe online polls are not tenable as reality due to the alternate reality that social media is.
However, the popularity of online polls has yet defied this opinion as Guardian Newspapers, YNaija and Mark Essien, the CEO of HotelsNG, Omojuwa, amongst other credible and influential media houses and personalities have caught the online poll fever.
Most of these online polls are geared towards the forthcoming 2019 elections where politicians are in a race to test their popularities , at least online.
In all of these, the Nigerian factor is beginning to play out, as there are suspicions that some of these online polls are now being manipulated.
Quite surprising at the length at which politicians would go for an online poll which is highly regarded as inconsequential.
Residues of these fraudulent claims can be seen in the recently concluded polls conducted by Mark Essien, YNaija where established votes are overtaken within certain periods late nights.
In the first, conducted by Mark Essien via his Twitter handle @MarkEssien, Atiku Abubakar polled 43% while Muhammadu Buhari trailed him with 35%. However, it is noteworthy, that Buhari was initially in a lead with a very clear margin and for those who are familiar with online polls on Twitter, it is very unusual for a poll being won with a wide margin will be usurped especially when polls have settled into a range. In what can be described as an unusual spike, Atiku Abubakar rose from a meagrely 15% vote count to winning the poll with 43%, thereby relegating Muhammadu Buhari to 35%, from 50% at the end of the stipulated timeframe. Worked like magic.
In another poll carried out by YNaija, which also had Atiku Abubakar as the eventual winner, the same winning pattern is depicted in the images above. The steep spike in votes from an already losing candidate to ending the race with a win is quite suspicious. This suspicion has led to an uproar among youths in the online community.
Furthermore, validating the suspicion, poll manipulation websites like buytwitterpollvotes.com and buytwitterpolls.com, where users can make payments for the manipulation of votes have been identified by some Nigerians.
According to findings, these tools could be some of the factors responsible for these ongoing frauds and this spike is usually perpetuated during the dead of the night, when most people are not expected to be voting.
It will not be surprising if in the coming weeks, unpopular candidates continue to win polls just like it currently is becoming the trend as observed in recent online polls.
Even in polls that are currently running like the one depicted below, a whooping 4000 plus votes were casted overnight in one direction; Atiku Abubakar.
The Omojuwa poll is already headed in the direction of the two previous polls and one can but wonder, exactly what is going on.
An informative exposé on these online poll frauds made by Japheth Omojuwa, revealed that there had been drastic changes in most of the suspected polls and this is quite evident in the fact that a subject on 47% after 12,000 respondents into the poll goes to 34% after 32,000 respondents, while a subject on 17% goes to 39% over same totals. No one needs much understudying to know that something unusual has happened.
He said; “It is extremely unusual for a poll to go from the first image to the next. After 12,000 respondents, the shape wouldn’t change that much at 32,000 except aliens or that Newton’s unbalanced force acts on it.”
His theory once again proves that the use of vote-procuring tools like buytwitterpollvote.com and buytwitterpolls.com were responsible for the not-so-clever venture by whosoever have been behind the polls manipulation.
The unbelievable desperation by Nigerian politicians to rig elections in their favor has once more shifted base as more politicians and or their handlers are expected to seek the patronage of these manipulation schemes going forward.
Irrespective of the belief that online polls do not influence real life polls, the fact that human behavior is sometimes determined by their social inclinations and environments, most times, subconsciously, cannot be neglected.
And of course, carrying out the responsibility of unearthing these kinds of frauds should not be neglected by stakeholders, who in other words, are the Nigerian people.
Update: The Omojuwa poll has since been won by ‘Atiku’ as suspected and expected.