Between Prophets and Political Scientists: Reversing the Marginalized Role of Political Scientists in Election Forecasting in Nigeria

Ikem Afamefune Patrick, Ogbonna Confidence N.

Abstract


In Nigeria, there have emerged a trend of unscientific predictions of electoral outcomes, mostly, attributed or rooted in divine, transcendental, sacred or mysterious exposition whereby at every round of elections, certain prophets reel out prophetic declarations of prospective winner or/and loser of the elections without any form of data collection and analysis. Unfortunately, this spiritualization of electoral outcome has seemingly stampeded the evolution of a vibrant public opinion polls culture that should naturally be spearheaded by Political Scientists, in order to advocate for the entrenchment of the science of forecasting in the electoral process to engender objectivity and reliability of predictions. However, this is not the case in Nigeria. Far more dangerous is that these prophetic declarations are made amid tensed political atmosphere sufficient to threaten the democratic process and consolidation in the country. It is in this regard therefore, that this paper critically examines this phenomenon and put forth ways Political Scientists can reassert their voice in the electoral process in Nigeria by making use of opinion polls to forecast electoral outcomes. Also, the paper is a wake-up call for the professional body of Political Scientists in the country to assume its rightful place in the electoral process and to nip in the bud these personalist-prophetic declarations-which most times clash with each other and are capable of threatening Nigeria’s democratic process.

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