Nigerians woke up in the early hours of Saturday February 16th to shocking news that the Independent Electoral Commission has postponed the slated general elections.
INEC top officials went into a crucial late Friday night and resolved in the early hours of the scheduled elections that the elections have been postponed.
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave an official statement, saying decision was due to poor logistics and implantation. He said the commission decided to give a one week interval to enable them conduct a free and fair electoral process.
Nigerians were obviously displeased with this decision, pointing out the obvious that INEC had four years and N200bn to prepare for February 16th. Many called the postponement a coup to democracy.
Others went ahead and blamed the incumbent for attempting to rig the election hence the postponement.
The entire country was left in confusion as members of the National Youth Corp Service delegated by INEC as Adhoc staff were left stranded at the various polling centers they were designated to.
Political parties threw blood
The two major political parties aiming for the presidential office,Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Party (APC) took stabs at each other. Each blaming the other of attempting to influence INEC, to enable them perfect rigging the elections.
Businesses felt the brunt of the postponed even more, as alot of businesses shut down early on Friday to enable staff travel to their various polling centers.
A dealer at the Computer Village, Lazarus Nnamdi, claimed that about 10,500 deals would have been lost, as between 10,000 and 10,500 deals are struck daily in the market. “I want to believe you know that this market adds N1.5 billion to the Nigerian economy daily from those deals. The news of the suspension coming very late has damaged so many things.”
In the aviation sector, the postponement was estimated to have cost airlines and agencies about N1.8 billion ($5 million).The loss was blamed on cancellation of local and international flights, and very low passenger turnout for airlines that turned up, due to earlier restriction of land movement.The ever-busy Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, was almost empty as very few passengers turned up for their flights, when The Guardian visited on Saturday.
The Chief Research Officer of Investdata Consulting, Ambrose Omodion, said investors’ confidence and the recent rebound in the market had been thwarted, noting that the action would dampen the rekindling of interest of the investing public.
“Cautious trading would definitely resume in stock market. This is why investors would not trust the government and policymakers, because even when you think you have done everything to mitigate risk in Nigeria, you are still not on a safer side. The impact of this action will be felt in our sovereign risk rating, which will in turn impact the value of our currency and the cost of doing business.”A Professor of Capital Market and Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, Uche Uwaleke, said the postponement had monumental adverse economic impact not only on the government but also on firms and individuals.
According to him, the cost is escalated by the fact that the announcement came on the very day the elections were to be held after a number of irreversible steps had been taken by various economic agents and actors. “The sensitive stock market will be at the receiving end as I expect a bearish trend in the days ahead, following this development. There is no doubt that this will have the effect of weakening investors’ sentiments and may even trigger further capital flight,” he said.