THE consensus was that the fragile national economy had taken a hit. Individuals are also reeling across the country. The postponement of the February 16 polls was going to hurt many, not only the politicians who are already looking forward to the next date for election.
From closed shops, postponed events like weddings, inevitable round trips to forced vacations and sense of loss, individuals are still counting their loses after February 16.
TTThe Vice President, National Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, (NACCIMA), Mr Tony Ejimkeonye, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Saturday, feared that “Nigeria will lose billions of naira due to the postponement.”
Ejimkonye said, “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 the same thing happening in the coming weeks. 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. The most disturbing effect is the perception of the international financial community about Nigeria.”
He noted that in the final analysis, the loss will be difficult to quantify in monetary terms.
You The President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs), Ken Ukaoha, however put a figure to the losses. He said, “the country would lose more than N140 billion to the “appalling and unfortunate”, postponement.
Said Ukaoha: “The loss is monumental if you look at the economic consequences, especially if you look at trading. Nigeria depends so much on daily turnover of funds through distribution and redistribution of goods and commodity.
“From this scenario, we are losing nothing less than N140 billion, because we all got the information so late. Shops are closed, farmers did not go to the farm, manufacturers and the industrialists shut down to allow their workers to go perform their civic duty.”
He continued: “We have lost quite a lot. Beyond what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is going to spend again in terms of security and logistics that it hinged the postponement on, we are going to spend more.”
In his assessment of the situation, the President National Association of Nigerian Traders in Ghana, Mr Chukwuemeka Nnaji, lamented the loss to Nigerians in Diaspora.
He said: “The worst part of it is that I had returned to Nigeria the night before and went with the last flight to Enugu. There was no electricity to listen to watch television and when I woke, I was told about the postponement.
“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 to Nigeria next Saturday again? It is a lot of money people are losing.”
Mr Roland Kiente, a voter in Peremabiri, a coastal settlement in Southern Ijaw area, regretted traveling from Yenagoa to Peremabiri, a three-hour boat ride, to be able to vote. “A lot of people had travelled longer distances for this purpose,” he said.
Financial Experts worry
FINANCIAL experts fear that the nation will take a longer time to come out of the economic difficulties the postponement will engender.
Professor of Economics, Sheriffdeen Tella, of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State was concerned that the development would create uncertainty in the economy and affect inflow of foreign investment, both portfolio and direct investments. It would also bring about extra cost for businesses and Nigerians, he said.
The Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., Mr Ambrose Omordion, said the postponement would further slow down economic activities and investors’ confidence as seen in the recent stock market rebound would be dampened.
Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., noted that the economy was shut down unwittingly ahead of the polls. He said, “schools had been closed for almost three days ahead of the elections, many companies and markets were closed while many individuals had traveled to various destinations to votes. Many people will return to vote, others might not.
The rest of the world will not take us serious as a nation.”
Mr. Moses Igbrude, Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, bemoaned the effect of economic waste the postponement would have on state governments, private businesses and foreign and local election observers.
Worried about the economic waste, he pointed out that some state governments had declared work-free days while some schools had embarked on an elongated mid term break. For many who had journeyed to different places to vote, Igbrude said the development would create hardship, and extra deployment of resources.