Election postponement: How Nigeria lost billions of naira

Business
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman

Mr Tony Ejimkeonye, the Vice President, National Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, (NACCIMA), has expressed shock over the postponement of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls in the country.

Ejimkeonye made his impression known while reacting to the shift in the dates for the general elections in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja.

He feared that the postponement would affect the nation’s economy adversely, saying that “Nigeria will lose billions of naira due to the postponement.”

Ejimkonye, who is also the Director, Business Development for Africa, Esilknet Africa Network Ltd., said, “It is quite unfortunate that the election was postponed.

“Economically, billions of naira had been lost and more would be lost in the coming weeks. Industries, businesses, including airlines were affected by the movement restriction.

“We expect also the same thing happening in the coming weeks. The most disturbing effect is the perception of the international financial community about Nigeria.

“Situations like this will create panic, with massive withdrawal and stoppage of funds inflow to Nigeria.

“I dread the effects of the postponement in the stock market on Monday.”

Ejinkeonye said that it would be difficult to quantify the loss in monetary term but maintained that the real cost would be the loss of investors’ confidence.

He advised Nigerians not to be discouraged but go and exercise their franchise next Saturday.

In a similar vein, the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs), Mr Ken Ukaoha, said the country would lose more than N140 billion due to the postponement.

Ukaoha noted that the postponement would affect the economy adversely, in terms of money that the government, political parties and ordinary Nigerians had expended on logistics and otherwise.

He described the postponement as “appalling and unfortunate”, saying that it was capable of making Nigeria a laughing stock among the comity of nations.

Ukaoha said: “The loss is monumental if you look at the economic consequences, essentially if you look at trading.

“Nigeria depends so much on daily turnover of funds through distribution and redistribution of goods and commodity.

“I am telling you that with this calculation I have just done here, we are losing nothing less than N140 billion, because we all got the information so late.

“If you go round now you will see that shops are closed, so we are losing a large chunk of money just for the postponement.

“We are not talking about the manufacturers and the industrialists because they have all shut down to allow their workers to go and perform their civic duty.

“Farmers did not go to farm because they want to exercise their franchise.

“If you do the computation, your guess is as good as mine, in terms of what the nation is losing.”

“If you look at what happened in 2015 and what we ran into now I think we should be mature and man enough to learn because this thing will continue to trail the country in every election,” he said.

Ukaoha further said that with the postponement, Nigeria would spend more money to conduct the elections, adding that “we have lost quite a lot.”

“Beyond what INEC is going to spend again in terms of security and logistics that it hinged the postponemeng on, we are going to spend more,” he said.

He said that the Federal Government could have deployed the resources in addressing infrastructure, health, education and payment of workers’ salaries, among other needs.

He, however, advised Nigerians not to be discouraged but ensure that they voted on Saturday, saying that the future of the country depended on the outcome of the elections.

Also, the President National Association of Nigerian Traders in Ghana, Mr Chukwuemeka Nnaji, said the postponement was a huge loss to Nigerians in Diaspora.

Nnaji said: “The worst aspect of it is that I returned to Nigeria last night with the last flight to Enugu, I have a lot of disappointment on why I forced myself to get here.

“I got to Enugu, there was no light to listen to news, when I woke up this morning, my younger sister told me about the postponement but I did not believe it initially.

“It costs a lot to come to the country and I flew in from Ghana. I will be going back next week , so, will I still travel back to Nigeria next Saturday again?

“I will have to reconsider that. It is a lot of money people are losing,” Nnaji said.

Also, an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr Adeniyi Adegbite, said that the postponement had serious economic, psychological, social, educational and even security implication for the government, political parties, INEC and Nigerians in general.

He, however, said that the action might not have any serious legal implication.

In Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, residents and political stakeholders expressed displeasure with the one week shift in the election timetable.

James Suowari, a voter, who said that he learnt about the postponement when he got to a polling centre in Yenagoa, described the action as “surprising and disappointing.”

Suowari, said: “The postponement was a surprise to me. I woke up this morning and took my voter card to where I could vote, only to be told of the shift.

“The action has far-reaching implications and the cost is huge and unimaginable.

“I am seriously worried that an election which we had about four years to plan caught INEC unawares.”

Juliet Evin, an adhoc staff of INEC deployed to Okordia-Zarama area, said that they were receiving election materials for movement to the polling centre when news about the postponement came to them.

“We were already sorting the materials when someone overheard the Electoral Officer for Yenagoa in a telephone conversation discussing the shift with someone.

“Shortly after, we were told to return the materials and go back home because the election had been postponed,” Evin said.

She said that their worry was whether INEC would still pay them, considering that they slept at the council and commenced work before the news got to them.

A commercial tricycle operator said that he was not aware of the postponement, adding that he was conducting his business because there were no security agents to enforce the restriction of movement on the roads.

Mrs Eme Offiong, a journalist with the Voice of Nigeria, Calabar, who was deployed to Bayelsa for the polls, said that she was “shocked and devastated” by the postponement.

“It was a big surprise and disappointment to hear about the postponement barely few hours to the exercise after a hectic trip from Calabar.

“I would have been spared the rigours associated with travels, if the postponement had come a day or two earlier.”

She said that with the postponement, she would go back to her station and return to Yenagoa by next Friday.

Mr Roland Kiente, a voter in Peremabiri, a coastal settlement in Southern Ijaw area, said that the community was calm.

He regretted that he travelled from Yenagoa to Peremabiri, a three-hour boat ride, to be able to vote to no avail.

“A lot of other people have travelled longer distances for this purpose,” Offiong said.

Meanwhile, most shops and business premises in Yenagoa remained closed in the early hours of the day, while major streets were usually quiet as many residents stayed in doors.

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