The election, which was billed to hold last week Saturday was moved by another week following sloppiness in the procurement and distribution of election materials by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The commission equally lamented over what appeared to be planned efforts by political thugs in parts of the country to subvert their operations. In Plateau, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Abia states, there were targeted arson, deliberate violence unleashed on INEC staff that cast shadows over the integrity of their operations. With the explanations offered by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his Commission, we hereby look forward to this Saturday.
However, the postponement has left virtually every Nigerian in turmoil. The economy, which is trying to find its balance must have lost at least N40 billion in Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) over the weekend. This loss is even worsened by the extra days that became useless as a result of the anxiety that trailed such a process. For example, Friday was a half day for actual work. Banks closed at midday or a little bit after around the country. This also means that a lot of other formal sector players flowed with the banks. Schools closed on Thursday and was to resume tomorrow. This means that children in boarding schools had to return home abruptly. Those not in boarding schools were asked to proceed on forced midterm break.
Markets and other informal sector players had to make the huge sacrifice of not opening their businesses in Saturday. Transporters were hit and may take days for some the them to recover. In all these, it’s not over yet. We still have this Saturday to reckon with. We are aware of very many citizens that travelled far and wide to vote. What are those people going to do now? People who have moved from their former locations even within the same city or state who had to check into hotels had to quickly check out as the announcement came. There is evidence of Nigerians who travelled down from foreign lands just to vote. Europe, America Asia and some African countries witnessed many Nigerians travelling back home.
This is interesting because folks back home think that what normally happens is that Nigerians are usually in a hurry to run out of Nigeria during electioneering since they normally anticipate violence or war. This is unfortunate. Good thing is that Nigerians abroad take the opportunity to vote seriously and as such are ready to put their mouths where their hearts are. This is commendable a d shows the country is gradually building a set of patriotic citizens. INEC disappointed them last week; this must not be so this time. Everyone must have planned their activities based on the assurances generously given by Prof. Yakubu.
Since the date for the botched election was set over a year ago, people adjusted schedules for their events. Some moved forward to this Saturday their weddings, burials and birthdays. You can then imagine how disappointed they will be right now. What do they do to their scheduled events which had to move because INEC chose last week. This week again INEC has come to occupy it. Who will then pay for the disappointment, loss of money and invasion that INEC has brought upon such occasions? Who will cure the injury, who even will recognise and share in their losses? This is unfair. And this is what tardiness brings. A state of confusion and bad blood towards one’s country.
INEC must get it’s planning right.
The Nigerian cost of what they have done isn’t what the politicians have lost in terms of mobilisation in relation to their polling agents in the 120, 000 units, thousands of wards, local government and state agents but what ordinary everyday voters have lost. What is more, this shift means the commission hasn’t learnt anything from previous postponements. It appears that postponement has become a norm where it concerns election management. We cannot afford to normalise nonsense. We realise that logistics or project management is a bug scare for us in this country, yet having run elections before, itching stopped this INEC form learning from past errors. But they appear not to have learnt anything.
After this election, INEC as an institution must opened up, for the world to see where their problems lie. Whoever wins the election is immaterial; the commission requires surgical operation to restore some efficiency in its operations. Then people must be held accountable for this debacle that happened last week.