Key questions this article answers:

  1. In 2022, Stears decided to use data to answer a simple question: "Who will emerge victorious in the elections". But how was this data built?

  2. State-specific polls were critical for Stears' predictive accuracy as elections are won at state and regional levels. What went into the data collection process for key states that made Stears polls so successful?


In February 2023, Stears correctly predicted the outcome of Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Elections.

Combining a national opinion poll with a first-of-its-kind electoral prediction model, Stears accurately forecasted a Bola Ahmed Tinubu victory amid low voter turnout and the winning party and candidate in five out of six polled states in Nigeria.

Breaking the myth of Nigerian exceptionalism

Nigerians have long had an uneasy relationship with data. There is some respect for its value; most notably when we effusively declare that data is the new oil. But there is also more than healthy scepticism fueled by the hubris of Nigerian exceptionalism. 

Investors do not entirely trust the market size estimate from a decade ago, so they turn to industry experts instead. Governments do not invest in long-term data collection and analytics infrastructure, so an administration spends ten times more on its social welfare program than it needs to. And ahead of the elections, political strategists discount polls as “elite echo chambers” and describe prediction models as “fancy equations” that will be “put to shame” on election day. 

These sentiments have one thing in common: they raise doubts about how credible and valuable data is in Nigeria; they challenge the idea of data for decision-making in Africa.

The prescience and power of data in the 2023 Presidential Elections provide an emphatic response. You can use data for decision-making in Nigeria. More importantly, you should use data for superior decision-making.