This is definitely not a cheering moment for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the upcoming governorship election in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu with the revelation that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr Godwin Obaseki has trounced him in the social media.
The news report that analysed the trend showed a yawning gap between both leading candidates with the odds in favour of Obaseki. From the way things stood as at the time the report was written, Ize- Iyamu had about 2,818 followers on twitter, 4,919 on Facebook and 450 likes on his Facebook page. Obaseki on the other hand has a combined total of 63,243 followers from two official twitter handles, 75,000 followers on his Facebook page, 35,000 likes with an average view of 3,373 daily.
At best the PDP would maintain an ill-advised silence and later a kneejerk reaction. When the reality of this development sink deeper, the PDP camp would immediately try to wave aside what is now almost an unofficial exit poll – predicting a taste of the drubbing that Obaseki’s main opponent is likely to receive at the polls come September 7. One argument they will contrive against Obaseki’s online dominance would be based on the notion that those on the social media do not register to vote.
Recent research findings have however made mincemeat of this mindset. A remarkable seven out of every ten persons that could get online to would be at the polling stations to cast their ballots, which makes the current trend the harbinger of defeat for the PDP as the online pattern would be repeated offline at the various polling units.
To have disregarded the reality that more Edo people are now connected has proven to be the PDP’s and its candidate’s greatest undoing. They already lag behind by an unimaginable margin and the best they could achieve under the circumstances is to attempt narrowing the gap. Any thought of a win would qualify as clinical hallucination.
As for the argument that those active online scarcely vote, the 2015 General Election mistake in this regard costed the PDP greatly as it wrongly dismissed discontent expressed by cyber communities as the ranting of the non-voting segment of the country at that time. The last time the social media and online community were less influential in election matters on these shores was in 2011. Obaseki’s social media following has thus basically sealed the deal for him, not just because his online assets would vote for him but because they are opinion moulders and great influencers.
A second reaction would be for the PDP campaign to attempt tinkering with the figures. They would go after inorganic followers and use paid strategies to drive online following. This would be as bad as the rigging charade that the PDP was known for in the 16 years it held sway at the federal level. The same way Ize-Iyamu’s party failed to positively impact the electorates’ lives in the false hope of resorting to rigging it had also failed to realise that APC’s Obaseki has massive online following because of what they know he is coming to build upon.
Obaseki has presented a blueprint that will move Edo state to the next level and his campaign speeches so far have shown a man who is not going it alone but has rather made the Edo State project the people’s own. He has articulated how he wants to build the future of Edo State by sorting out issues of basic human needs in the state; health care; access to quality education and provision of security while addressing the issue of revenue generation in way that leaves the people of the state as the winners. On top of this, the APC candidate has promised to restore socio-cultural values in a state where cultists are brave enough to attempt taking over.
The same cannot be said of Ize-Iyamu, whose idea of a campaign has remained in the same era as his lack of attention to what happens online. Each time he or his team and party members climb the soap box it is to hurl abuses and make claims for which they have no facts. Those who at this rallies apparently were present there for the entertainment value as findings have also shown that only three out of every 10 people that showed up to listen to the vitriolic would show up at the polling booth; and Ize-Iyamu has done a poor job of convincing even this measly number to vote for him.
To compound this candidate’s woes, each time anyone using the internet searches for his name the result would be crowded with histories of his association and primacy in an administration that ran the state aground in his hey days as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). Somewhere in the mix are links to the invitation he had to keep with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). His sting as a cultist is barely encouraging. So how does he seriously expect someone to see all these and still follow him online not to talk of voting him at the polls.