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University of Ghana Opinion Polling Is a Surrogate Campaign Strategy to Sway Voters – PI Cliams

Cape Coast, 28th November 2020, Progressive intellectuals (PI) have issued a release suggesting that the University of Ghana opinion is a surrogate campaign strategy adopted by some intellectuals to sway voter preferences in the December 2020 elections. The released added that while opinion polls are established practices of every democratic system of governance, PI are particularly concerned about the deliberate abuse of polling for partisan purposes.

In the PI release issued by Professor Stephen Kendie, President of the group, they indicated that, they have observed that ever since opinion polls started emerging in the name of the Department of Political Science, the results have always been favourable to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) irrespective of whether the party was in power or opposition. It continued, it has never been the case that the Department of Political Science conducted an opinion poll and made adverse findings against the NPP, and never have their research made any findings favourable to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

According to PI, these observations raise questions about the integrity of the faculty involved in such opinion poll research and cast very bad image on an otherwise important Department within the University of Ghana. In particular, the trend of producing such similar results from studies conduct by presumably polling different respondents over different years cast doubts on the soundness of the research design, methodology, scope, integrity of survey instruments, the training involved in deploying research assistants, calibre of field researchers, and appropriateness of analytical framework used. It continued, overtime, these deliberate abuses of opinion polls in a manner that appropriates the name of Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana for legitimacy and credibility has the potential to undermine the pivotal role of research in public policy making and socio-economic transformation.

The release concluded by stating that, the real opinion polls are ones that reflect the lived experiences of the people, not those that reflect the wishes of those in power. It added, “we urge Ghanaians to dismiss the polls and not allow themselves to be swayed by deception and fraud masquerading as research”. “We also urge university researches to see beyond politics and conduct researches that benefit all”. “We will jealously guard against the abuse and misuse of trades in our profession for political purposes”.

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Progressive Intellectuals (PI) is a registered non-profit organisation in Ghana working to improve the socio-economic conditions of Ghanaians through the lenses of social democracy. Their membership is drawn from all tertiary institutions in Ghana.

Below is the full press release by PI

RE: DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA OPINION POLL

The Progressive Intellectuals (PI) network of Ghana has observed with dismay and regret attempts by some lecturers in the Political Science Department, University of Ghana to use public opinion polling as a surrogate campaign strategy in the hope to swaying voter preferences in the December 2020 elections. While opinion polls are established practices of every democratic system of governance, we are particularly concerned about the deliberate abuse of polling for partisan purposes. We have observed that since opinion polls started emerging in the name of the Department of Political Science, the results have always been favourable to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) irrespective of whether the party was in power or opposition. It has never been the case that the Department of Political Science conducted an opinion poll and made adverse findings against the NPP, and never have their research made any findings favourable to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

These observations raise questions about the integrity of the faculty involved in such opinion poll research and cast very bad image on an otherwise important Department within the University of Ghana. In particular, the trend of producing such similar results from studies conduct by presumably polling different respondents over different years cast doubts on the soundness of the research design, methodology, scope, integrity of survey instruments, the training involved in deploying research assistants, calibre of field researchers, and appropriateness of analytical framework used. Overtime, these deliberate abuses of opinion polls in a manner that appropriates the name of Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana for legitimacy and credibility has the potential to undermine the pivotal role of research in public policy making and socio-economic transformation.

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Anecdotal evidence in Ghana over the four years points to the fact that some government policies have visited unbearable hardships on many Ghanaian families. For instance, the collapse of financial institutions has rendered several persons jobless and worsened the family circumstances of those affected; prices of most goods and services have witnessed astronomical increases without commensurate increases in wages and salaries; the country has been experiencing series of corruption-related episodes as manifested in the PDS scandal, the Agyapa Deal, the BOST scandal, massive procurement fraud, the NLA scandal, missing galamsey equipment, and several scandals at the Youth Employment Authority; and a growing culture of deception, impunity, despondency, unfulfilled promises, as well as arrogance of government officials. It is thus puzzling that in the face of this level of malfeasance, any scientific research that taps into the lived experiences of Ghanaians would arrive at the conclusions drawn by the polls bearing the name of the Political Science Department. The conclusions are unscientific and insensitive to the feelings and experiences of millions of people who are burdened by the policies implemented by the Nana Akufo Addo government in the last four years.

Research is an exercise that has high place of pride the world over. It is important to jealously guard against the potential of reducing academic research to a tool that justifies and defends fraud. We are also concerned because the lack integrity in research has implications on how we transmit the time-tested principles of scientific research to our students. Indeed, research, at no point in time, should be politicised because research ressults are expected to be essential inputs in policy making. Doctored research results lead to wrong policy formulation, which has negative implications for socio-economic development.

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While we applaud the management of the University of Ghana for the tolerance being exhibited in the face of extreme abuse of academic freedom by some of its lecturers, the inability of the university authorities to confront the growing politicization of research has the potential to negatively affect its rating and undermine its ability to attract research funding. It is obvious that some of the recent polls including those by Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Ben Ephson of the Dispatch Newspaper are rented activities designed to sway public opinion in favour of the NPP. Their true purpose is to deceive the unsuspecting voter.

The real opinion polls are ones that reflect the lived experiences of the people, not those that reflect the wishes of those in power. We urge Ghanaians to dismiss the polls and not allow themselves to be swayed by deception and fraud masquerading as research. We also urge university researches to see beyond politics and conduct researches that benefit all. We will jealously guard against the abuse and misuse of trades in our profession for political purposes.

_______SIGNED_____

Professor Stephen Kendie

President, Progressive Intellectuals, Ghana

November 27, 2020

All media interest in the issues raised in this Press Release should be directed to Prof S B Kendie on 0244802516