#TheConvergence: How data can help young candidates run cost-effective campaigns – Analyst

Participants present at the event.
Participants present at the event.

The Head of Research at SB Morgen Intelligence, Cheta Nwanze, has advised young candidates in the 2019 general elections on how a good understanding of data would help them run cost-effective campaigns.

Mr Nwanze gave the advice at a conference, “The Convergence”, an initiative of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa) and the Not Too Young To Run Movement, one of Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movements in recent times.

About 400 young candidates from various political parties were at the conference which ran from Monday to Wednesday in Abuja.

Mr Nwaze of SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based political research outfit, told the young candidates that data is critical for their ambitions.

”Data is critical for political contestants. In a world of finite resources, the campaign that can best harness data is likely to run the most cost-effective campaign,” he said.

”Identifying the demographics of the electorate and their historical voting patterns allows the campaign to predict the most efficient path(s) to victory and plot their campaign strategy,” he said.

Asked about the prospects of so-called Third Force parties at the elections, Mr Nwanze pulled up data showing Nigeria’s voting numbers for the 2015 elections which showed that President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress polled about 54 per cent of the valid votes cast, while former President Goodluck Johnathan of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party polled 45 per cent. The candidates of all the other parties combined managed just over 1.1 per cent of the valid votes in the elections.

”Mr Buhari got 53.96 per cent of the votes, while former President Goodluck Jonathan received 44.96 per cent of the votes and all the other candidates combined got 1.1 per cent of the votes in 2015,” Mr Nwanze said.

Pointing out the high number of invalid votes, Mr Nwanze urged the candidates to train their supporters how to cast their votes properly.

According to him, ”the number of invalid votes in the past election was almost three times the number of people that voted for all the other parties put together.”
He spoke about other ways that candidates can use data for their campaigns.

”Campaigns also use data to construct predictive models to make targeting campaign communications more efficient and effective to support broader campaign strategies.

”This is an example of how data tells us this is the swing regions in Nigeria. As smart politicians, these are the regions you should spend more time and more money trying to convince they should vote for you as those in the South-East, South-South, ‘North-West and North-East likely already have their minds made up before a single ballot is cast.
“But it is natural in a democracy that some regions will be stuck in their ways, and the key challenge in a democracy is not changing people’s minds, but preventing a tyranny of the majority.”

Also at the event, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, advised the contestants to listen to the electorate, stressing, “You can not lead if you do not listen.

”You have to know what your people want. The minimum essential for a leader is to have the people in your hearts and minds. They need to follow you by choice,” he said.

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The envoy said what holds people together is personal friendships. “You might not win the elections but what matters the most is that you came together.

“The greatest challenge everywhere in the world is how to help people find their way – The Convergence!!!

“The challenge is not to get elected alone but for the class of 2019 to change the face of democracy in Nigeria forever,” Mr Symington said.

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