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Opinion | Jan 20, 2019

I Also Have My Doubts About the UG’s Opinion Poll

Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, Peter Boamah Otokunor
Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, Peter Boamah Otokunor

It is being hotly debated in many circles in the country. But what is not in doubt about the findings of the recent opinion poll conducted by some faculty members of the University of Ghana is the fact that absolutely no observer of the Ghanaian political scene who is current or up-to-date with political developments on the ground, believes that if the presidential election, scheduled for December 2020, were held this month, or even today, that former President John Dramani Mahama would have a proverbial Chinaman’s chance of trouncing a top-of-his-form President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (See “NDC Cast[sic] Doubt Over the Credibility of UG Research” 1/12/19).

What casts a little more shadow over the volume of the sampling of the people polled, or the respondents, is the fact that it is rather much too small to be deemed to be accurate or scientifically and statistically reliable. On average, it appears that each of the 10 administrative regions of the country had about 500 respondents polled. Now, we are talking about a country with some 30 million citizens and about 12 million eligible and/or legitimately registered voters. The figure of 5,000 polled or respondents is rather much too small because in the smallest of the regions, such as the Upper-East and Upper-West regions, a more scientific polling would have had to capture at least 2,000 eligible and/or legitimately registered voters each.

Then also, allowances would have had to be made for the respective numbers of the two major parties, namely, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). And then the sampling would have had to be evenly spread across all 10 regions polled. Unless the statistical sampling was done proportionately by the total population of registered voters in each region, relatively heavily populated regions like Asante, Greater-Accra and Eastern regions, as well as the Brong-Ahafo, Northern and Central regions, would have been woefully shortchanged or underserved, which probably occurred. In other words, to get a more scientifically accurate sampling results, at least 10,000 respondents ought to have been polled. I would even go as conservatively far as to suggest the sampling of at least 20,000 respondents, if the objective of the pollsters was to establish the credibility of such polling beyond the iota of the proverbial shadow of doubt.

In the era of computer and internet technology, this could have easily been done – that is, the maximum sampling of at least some 20,000 respondents – by having the Political Science Department at the University of Ghana collaborate with faculty members of its counterparts at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), or even the Mathematics Department at the latter institution, as well as one of the campuses of the University of Development Studies (UDS). I have absolutely no doubt that were the 2020 Presidential Election to be held today, or at any time this month, Nana Akufo-Addo would very likely effectively doom Mr. Mahama’s lurid flirtation with a second nonconsecutive shot at the Presidency with the aorta-splitting margin of at least 65-percent to 35-percent.

In other words, I find the UG’s polling percentages of 49.3-percentage points for Nana Akufo-Addo, and 33.3-percent for Mr. Mahama to be a bit insulting, in view of the fact of the four-and-half years of Dumsor, lack of access to good healthcare, potable drinking water in the rural areas, and the astronomical rises in the prices of basic food items, and the general punitive level of misery visited on the daily existence of the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian citizens. What with the unconscionable and predatory dealings of the double-salary drawing cabinet appointees of then-President Mahama? But that the reader is not given the sampling margin-of-error, also means that the pollsters in the Political Science Department at the University of Ghana still have some considerable catching-up to do in the way that scientifically credible polls are conducted in many an advanced and functional democratic nation.

Where the proper approach to polling is strictly followed, contrary to what Mr. Peter Boamah Otokunor, the Deputy General-Secretary of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, would have the rest of us believe, it wouldn’t matter the least bit whether most of the key pollsters belonged to either one of the country’s two major political parties or not. In Ghana, however, it cannot be gainsaid that polling tends to be heavily colored by the political affiliation of the controllers and/or managers of the entire process. Which is not in any way to infer that absolutely no objective and ideologically dispassionate scientific polling cannot be conducted. We need to also bear in mind that the ability of pollsters at our local colleges and universities to conduct credible and globally competitive polling also has a bearing on the global ranking of the quality of our tertiary academies.

And this, of course, includes the ranking of Ghanaian universities and colleges on the African continent itself, as well as in the West African sub-region in particular. I hope some of the shortcomings of the UG’s opinion poll discussed in this column are actually the shortcomings of the reporter whose reportage was used as our frame of reference for this column, rather than those of the pollsters themselves.

*Visit my blog at: Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 12, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2019

This author has authored 4406 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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