By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – LATEST social media data have revealed of the 73 presidential candidates for 2019 race, three are neck and neck in social media engagements by Nigerians.
According to the data, distilled from Facebook in particular, in the last 72 Hours, the trio of Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party and Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim of the People’s Trust are in the frontline in that order.
The data revealed a new development in the race as Olawepo-Hashim has surpassed other third force contenders to emerge the closest challenger to Buhari and Atiku.
The other 70 candidates were far behind the three leading candidates especially on Facebook engagements where the bulk of Nigerians voters are known to be actively involved.
Facebook was used for the rating as it represents a diversity of active voters across the occupational and professional lines.
Facebook’s geographical spread and acceptability also make it a good tool.
While Buhari and Atiku are leading, their engagement figures have been going down in the last few hours.
Olawepo-Hashim’s figure is however on the rise while other third force candidates are far below the top contenders in the rating.
Specifically, the likes of Oby Ezekwezili, Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and others recorded very low engagements from Nigerian Facebook users, which measure how voters interact with candidates on their personal campaign pages.
In the engagements’ data, Buhari has 27+ ,000 while Atiku has 17+,000. Olawepo-Hashim came third with 15+,000.
Other third force candidates were distances away from the three leading candidates, with Durotoye having 7+,000 while Kingsley Moghalu having 3+,000.
Segun Asaolu of Public Opinion poll, affiliated with NOI polls, said the use of data from Facebook added a level of credibility to the rating ,adding “on Facebook, you have the real voters-artisans as well as professionals.
He said, “If the data had relied on Twitter, it would have been an unreliable measure of voters’ engagements with the candidates. Facebook data fairly represent the voters. I however think the review has to be a continous exercise as data inflow changes every now and then.”
On what the data in question imply, Asaolu said “Olawepo-Hashim is climbing on voters’ engagements while Buhari and Atiku appear static despite leading the pack.
“Other candidates are not in reckoning as their data are not just low but also declining. But like I said, the tracking has to be done every now and then.”