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Obi’s search interest declines amid growing ‘OBIdient Movement’

Obi notches most Twitter followers since presidential race began

Google search interest in Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, is receding.

Obi topped the search interest at 67 percent in September. But two weeks into October, between 9th and 16th of the month, search interest in the LP’s presidential candidate fell to 55 percent. This is one percent shy of the search interest in Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at 56 percent. Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has 37 percent, while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) took 6 percent of the search interest.

On a regional basis in prior analysis, Obi had always had the south-eastern and south-southern regions in his grip. He generated the highest search interest across states in this region, but things are beginning to change as search interest shows Tinubu and Atiku are getting a hold in states such as Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom respectively, and their search interest in this region is beginning to increase.

Among the three front runners, Obi generated the least search interest in the north-east and north-west, while holding some influence in Nasarawa and Plateau in the north-central region.

The northern regions: east, west, and central, have seen more fluctuations in the share of search interest, than any other region.

These regions recorded the most number of intending voters about 6.4 million who have completed their registration, according to INEC data, and have been largely contested between Tinubu and Atiku, while Obi pops up once in a while in just the north-central region.

As of the prior analysis dated October 1 to 8, 2022, Tinubu had a better search interest across most states in these regions, while Atiku maintained a better average search interest on a regional basis.

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However, analysis from October 9 to 16, 2022, showed that Atiku had an average share of search interest on both state and regional levels.

The south-west region has been more interested in Tinubu, while the south-east and south-south have been more interested in Obi.

Tinubu has consistently outperformed his fellow contenders on a state-by-state basis, having at least an average of 21 percent across all states. He had his highest search interest in Kwara (53 percent) and the lowest in Ebonyi (21 percent).

Based on all the analysis so far, the 2023 presidential contenders evenly share all geo-political zones. This is also in line with Nigeria’s 2023 presidential report released by the We2geda Foundation.

What is driving the search interest in presidential candidates?

For Tinubu, his major share of search interest came from his meeting with the APC governors and NWC which had disagreed on the presidential campaign council. Abdullahi Adamu, the national chairman of the party, was not present, and the delay in the flag-off of the campaign was blamed on Muhammadu Buhari’s itinerary.

Oluremi Tinubu’s (wife of the APC candidate) call for the mobilisation of women in order to ensure the party’s victory in the coming election also added to search interest.

Search interest in Obi is majorly linked to his presidential campaign council list. The list was released on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, and it included John Enenche, former Nigerian defence headquarters’ director of information. But many members of the ‘OBIdient Movement’ were against his inclusion. They referred to his comments on the footage and images of the #EndSARS violence at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos in 2020. He had called the visuals fake.

Obi was criticised for including Enenche on the list. Obi responded to the criticism and said in several tweets that an updated list will be issued.

“I’ve received several calls of concern following the release of the Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign Council list. Admittedly, there were some omissions and erroneous entries in the list, hence the concerns expressed,” Obi tweeted.

“In response, the Labour Party chairman in the presence of members of the NWC addressed the issues during a press conference. In keeping with our commitment to accountability, responsiveness, and transparency, an updated list will be issued in due course. I plead for patience.”