In the early hours of Saturday, February 16, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections, which had been scheduled to hold on the said date.
The announcement was made just hours before the polls were to have opened even though they had assured Nigerians and the International community that they were fully prepared for the elections.
Indeed, different categories of people were affected in different ways even as the rescheduled elections are almost upon us.
A lot of people had looked forward with zeal and determination to vote and to use their voices through their voters’ card on February 16. Nigerians within and outside the shores of the land counted down to the day and made preparations towards it.
Many went through a lot of trouble to register and collect their Permanent Voter’s card, in order to be able to vote.
A lot of voters travelled long distances from outside Nigeria just to be present at their polling units in order for them to participate in the voting process. Some voters abandoned their businesses and travelled all the way to their polling units to sleep overnight so as to cast their votes the next morning.
Well, as we all know, things didn’t go as planned and this left many voters frustrated, their zeal and enthusiasm dampened and their frustration is well understood.
For those who travelled outside their bases, they were left with limited options and none too pleasant and all expensive. For instance; one option was to return to their bases and travel back for the elections, which of course, will mean incurring extra costs or to extend their stay at their polling locations, which still means extra cost.
But the most expensive option would be returning to base and not being able to make the journey back to polling location, thereby missing the opportunity to vote.
After all the efforts and hope to be part of deciding the country’s future, what a devastating blow that was, no thanks to INEC.
In Nigeria, people literally have an event every Saturday. However, due to the scheduled election, so many people had shifted their events including weddings, burials and other important events to the next Saturday which now happens to be the new date for the elections.
What this therefore means for such people, is another postponement of their events and most probably some financial loses.
The social media has been replete with complaints from many Nigerians who had been so affected, but is anybody listening to their pain?
Nigerian pupils and students starting from the primary school level to the university level are all affected by the election postponement. Some primary and secondary schools declared holidays due to the elections and will be forced to declare another holiday to accommodate the new development.
The university students just recently resumed school after three months of ASUU strike. They haven’t resumed lectures yet due to the elections and now will have to extend one more week before they resume.
Some universities are yet to commence academic activities despite the strike being called off with the expectation the lectures would resume after the presidential elections.
A lot of Nigerian and foreign media houses sent out their reporters to different areas across the country to cover the voting process.
The postponement meant extra costs to either bring them back to base or keep them out of station till the elections of February 23 are done with. Either way, it is a lot of cost.
This includes Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and foreign observers who deployed hundreds of personnel across the country to observe and monitor the elections.
The listed organisations spent lots of money to prepare to cover the voting process. Getting their personnel to be at the polling units this weekend means more money spent. Yet, they have to do monitor and observe.
The Business People:
There are people who closed their businesses due to the “no movement” law on election days. How much money did they lose? A whole lot and they will still lose again this weekend.
There are also people who had made lots of snacks to sell at the polling units. Well, that was definitely a waste for them. Would they ever recover their money?
It is everybody’s fervent prayer and hope that the elections will hold tomorrow, February 23. The only thing that can begin to make up for the frustrations and losses is if the powers that be allow the process to be free, and fair. The will of the people must count.
It is also important that all eligible voters go out and vote. This is equally another way to cushion the losses.