Intervening Influence of Monetary and Material Inducements on the Relationship between Opinion Leaders and Voting Decisions of Urban and Rural Electorates in 2019 Gubernatorial Election in South-West, Nigeria
Opinions leaders are important political players who bridge the gap between the political elite and general public. They are generally regarded as people whose discussions make innovations attractive to the people with whom they speak and are, therefore, strategic in determining or dictating the voting decisions of the electorate. Past studies revealed that opinion leaders are influential at swaying voting decisions as a result of their personality strength or characteristics. However, significant efforts have not been made by existing studies to identify the most influential opinion leadership characteristic that determine voting decisions of urban and rural electorates in South-west, Nigeria. Such studies have also not established the interviewing influence of monetary and material inducements on the relationship between opinion leaders and the voting decisions of urban and rural electorates. The study adopted triangulation research design. The population of the study comprised all 11,897,401 registered voters in the three sampled states in South-west, Nigeria. A sample size of 1,067 was obtained. The multistage sampling technique was used for the study. The study showed that reputation (urban x=3.89, rural x=3.66), social status (urban x=3.64, rural x=3.58) and educational attainment (urban x=3.68, rural x =3.72) were the most influential characteristics of opinion leaders, while their credibility rating was low (urban x =3.48, rural x = 3.44). The study discovered that monetary inducement (t=0.158, p>0.05) did not significantly moderate the relationship between opinion leaders and the voting decision of urban and rural electorates, while material inducement (x =3.61) significantly moderated the relationship between opinion leaders and voting decisions of urban electorates. The study concluded that the interviewing influence of monetary inducement was not as significant as generally perceived, while material inducement surprisingly moderated the voting decisions of urban electorates. The study recommended that urban electorates should be wary of opinion leaders who act as intermediary between electorates and politicians to provide material items during electioneering.
Keywords: Opinion leadership, Opinion leadership characteristics, Monetary and material inducements, Urban and rural electorates.