The Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Reno Omokri, on Sunday night suddenly closed an online poll he organised almost immediately President Goodluck Jonathan overtook former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, in the survey.
At the end of the poll, the president got 13,111 votes representing 49.3 percent, while Mr. Buhari got 12,875 votes, representing 48.41 percent. The president had less than one percent lead over Mr. Buhari.
Six hundred and nine voters, representing 2.29 percent of the total votes, were undecided.
Sources close to Mr. Omokri said he decided to hurriedly close the poll in apprehension that Mr. Buhari’s supporters might charge back online to vote the former head of state to an unassailable victory.
Mr. Omokri did not indicate the duration of the poll in the beginning and rushing to close it after the president got a slim lead is like changing the rules in the middle of the game, said Femi Falade, a development expert and school owner in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
“That’s clear rigging,” Mr. Falade said.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr. Buhari led in the polls for three days in what is seen as an embarrassing and unforeseen outcome for the president’s camp.
Several aides and loyalists of the president were mobilised extensively to reverse the trend in the last 24 hours.
Insiders in the president’s camp said presidency and administration officials as well as the top hierarchy of the governing Peoples Democratic Party felt “deeply embarrassed” by the direction of the poll and mobilised supporters of the president in and outside Nigeria to quickly get online and vote in his favour.
“Phone calls were made to supporters of the president in the Transformation Ambassador of Nigeria (TAN), Goodluck Support Groups (GSG), Gejites and other groups sympathetic to the president,” one of our sources said.
“They were being pressured to get online and reverse the results in favour of the president, even if means voting multiple times with multiple devices,” said the source who preferred not to be named for security reasons.
A source close to the creator of the poll, Mr. Omokri, also told PREMIUM TIMES that the presidential aide has a mandate to ensure the poll did not close until Mr. Buhari is “roundly defeated”.
Most online polls have time frames within which they are conducted. The poll by news website, Sahara Reporters, ran for 24 hours. But Mr. Omokri’s ran for four days and closed abruptly.
Buhari still in the lead
Despite the efforts to garner support for the president, which has seen his fortune leaping from 2,455 votes, representing 26.75 percent as at last night, to 12,016 votes, representing, 48.46 percent as at 4:27 p.m. on Sunday, Mr. Buhari remains in the lead.
The former head of state, who led the president with 6,411 votes, representing 69.87 percent on Saturday night, was seen leading with 12,198 votes, representing 49.2 percent at 4:27 p.m. on Sunday.
Also, while 310 persons, representing 3.38 percent were undecided last night; the number of undecided voters increased to 580 votes, representing 2.34 percent.
On October 15, the day former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, declared his intention to run for president in the 2015 election, news website, Sahara Reporters, activated an opinion poll asking Nigerians to indicate who they would vote for if the election were to hold that day between Mr. Buhari (as candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC) and President Goodluck Jonathan ( as candidate of the Peoples Democratic, PDP).
The poll lasted for only 24 hours, and out of a total of 15,435 persons that voted, Mr. Buhari got 12,246 votes, representing 79 percent of the total votes cast, while President Jonathan got 3189 votes, representing 21 percent of the total votes.
However, ostensibly to counter the survey conducted by Sahara Reporters, Mr. Jonathan’s aide, Mr. Omokri, set up a similar poll asking almost the same question posed by the news website.
His poll, which is still running on his blog, “Build Up Nigeria” posed the question: “If the Nigerian Presidential election were held today, who would you vote for between President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari?”.
Mr. Omokri’s poll began a day after Mr. Buhari declared to run, but unlike the one ran by Sahara Reporters, which has since closed, the one by Build Up Nigeria only closed suddenly after Mr. Jonathan leapt to a marginal lead.
Online Poll not scientific
Online polls, such as the ones by Sahara Reporters and Mr. Reno are not representative and do not necessarily represent public opinion.
“It categorically does not represent public opinion – at best, it may coincide with it,” the BBC says in itsGuideline on Opinion Polls, Surveys, Questionnaires, Votes and Straw Polls.
“Online votes are particularly vulnerable to campaigns, lobby groups and individuals who seek to organise mass or multi voting. For that reason, some highly controversial issues are not, normally, suitable for online voting as the risk of being hijacked is too great,” the guideline adds.