What INEC’s Postponement of Polls Means for an Already Frustrated Economy
Nigeria’s electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, rescheduled the Saturday’s general election, leaning on difficulties on logistics and bad weather as immediate causes.
The new dates fixed for the elections are Saturday, February 23 for presidential and national assembly elections, and Saturday, March 9 for governorship and state assemblies elections. However, with this postponement, there may be some economic damage no matter how mundane.
Unbearable economic woes
Obviously, the international community and investors would be so certain about Nigeria been unstable for business, since they can’t hold on to a planned exercise. The postponement of the elections will further keep them, the investors away from the Nigerian market as and will further discourage investment and bring adverse effect to the nation’s stock market.
In addition, consider the number of businesses whose operators have shut down for a day or two in other to travel to their respective constituencies to exercise their civic right, they would end up losing sales or might end up not being able to balance up due to the days they have spent off the business and getting to spend another two days in the same month for elections.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in a recent publication, stated that the postponement of the polls cost the nation no less than $1.2billion loss owing to the disruption of business activities across the states.
Imagine the number of Individual who had travelled down to their various communities to participate in their nation’s election. As the norm in Nigeria, transport companies inflate the cost of transportation in periods like this, spending has increased in the last two days, several others have gone to filling stations and supermarkets to stock up for the election weekend. Journalists, international correspondents, and election observers have spent thousands of dollars travelling to and around Nigeria to cover the elections and observe polling activities.
For instance, a return flight for a UK journalist to cover Nigeria election will cost about ₦400,000 more than £800 while hotel accommodation for up to a week in a Lagos hotel could cost up to ₦35,000 (£75) per night. Add to that an average per diem of $500 for 3-4 days and you will get a sense of just how much could have been expended on covering the elections originally scheduled for Saturday, February 16.
Additionally, a bus ticket from Lagos to the eastern part of Nigeria would cost about ₦10,000 to ₦15,000, making it a total of ₦30,000 aside the cost of accommodation and feeding for two or three days they are to stay.
Also consider that every Saturday, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people get married across the country. Those who might have scheduled their weddings for the week after the elections will now have to reschedule them, barring unforeseen costs that might greatly affect their finances in the process.
Companies’ plans frustrated
Some companies have tied their spending and 2019 strategies around Saturday, February 16 and March 2, 2019, initial election dates, spending millions of Naira. Adjusting to the new dates will not only affect company finances, but it will have some effects on employee morale going into the new week, further harming the companies’ productivity levels.
Last week, Nigeria fully recovered from its worst economic recession as the GDP growth recorded a remarkable 1.93% in 2018, thanks to the activities and spending of private organisations. It will be important to note how these activities will be impacted in the coming weeks.
National resources wasted
INEC’s budget for the election year is roughly ₦189 billion. It is safe to say that a large chunk of that budget that has already been expended on logistics in preparation for elections on February 16 has gone to waste, never to be recouped. Meaning they would need more funds to move on.
On the other hand, INEC will also need to make adjustments to already incurred costs, almost doubling costs.
INEC’s postponement of the election may be on the surface appearance as nothing far from the usual, however, it has dire consequences, businesses, individuals and the nation at large may take some time to recover from. Add other consequences we may have left out in the comment section.
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