OPINION LEADERS INFLUENCE ON VOTERS DECISION IN IKOT EKPENE DURING THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION
- Background to the problem
Different views have been perceived by politician who have inclined themselves into politics not as a career but as a debate. Opinion leadership holds different conceptions on electoral issues as far as politics in the democratisation process is concerned. It is against this background that is viewed that 2015 general electrons which were held in Nigeria gave birth to several views and perception from opinion leaders.
Opinion leadership, as defined by Ndolo (2006), is the ability to informally influence individual’s attitudes or behavior in a desired way with relative frequency.
Opinion leaders are regarded as members of small social groups who influence other members of their group. Another way in which Nodolo(2006) looks at opinion leadership, is that it is a two-step flow of communication, in which messages flow from the media first and reach the opinion leaders, who then pass them to associates or followers who look to them as influential.
This tells us that opinion leaders play an intermediary role between mass media and their followers, to influence them in their decision–making process people do not feel. They are being tricked into a certain way by someone they known, and so they come to them (opinion leaders) to seek for their opinion and advice on certain issues. It can then be inferred that the role opinion leaders play, can be very valuable especially where it has to do with influencing people’s voting decision or behavior the decision to vote for any credible candidate depends on the level of political awareness of a people at a given time, hence, the need for opinion leaders to relate and communicate with voters on the electorate process it becomes incontrovertible that opinion leaders are since quo none in a political clime. Due to the fact that they (opinion leaders) have the ability to mobilize people and as well, influence their voting decision thus, maintains that communicating with voters the hope of influencing their behavior is not new, it is as old as competitive politics itself. He continuous that for as long as there have been contested elections those standing for election and their supporters have endeavored to pursuable the relevant elections to vote for them. They also enlighten voters on the election process which is an essential ingredient for a successful election
This concept is applicable in assessing how opinion leaders in Ikot Ekpene do influence the voting decision of electorates in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.
1.2 Statement of the problem
It is an acknowledged fact that opinion leaders are individuals whose ideas and behaviors serve as a model to others. They communicate messages to a primary group, and influence the attitude of their followers. In traditional settings where community member’s desire look for a credible source of information even in the presence of means of mass communication such as local newspaper and radios opinion leaders are the people they turn to. Opinion leadership entail slowing an air of authority, whose opinions on issues are respected and in questioned by their followers .those issue may include politics: communal and socio-economics discords, community relation etc. political discussions are particular are of interest and one of the most controversial aspects of opinion leadership: Electorates in communicates do, almost all the time, look up, to those they consider as opinion leader for their views on political discourse, political candidate and voting choice. Therefore, in certain voting distance, it may be advantageous to direct the communications to the opinion leader who has the ability to influence other’s decision about adopting new ideas to speed the acceptance of apolitical message. The political parties in the state during campaigns find ways to appease opinion leaders across communities in the state hope that they final favors’ with electorates in those communities opinion leaders are expected to influence the voting choice of these electorates. As a follow up to this, how well opinion leaders tried to influence the vote’s decision, and the impact it had on Electorates; In Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area it is little in knowledge to the researchers, thus the need to find out the extent to which the opinion leaders were instrumental in creating political awareness among electorates in Ikot Ekpene Local Government who participated in the 2015 general elections is pertinent.
- Objective of the study