Election Postponement Takes Its Toll on Politicians, Social Events

Election Postponement Takes Its Toll on Politicians, Social Events

Lamentations of different dimensions by different categories of people have continued to trail the one-week postponement of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). For the political class, already fatigued from spending on campaigns in the last six months, it is like a postponement of a

Lamentations of different dimensions by different categories of people have continued to trail the one-week postponement of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

For the political class, already fatigued from spending on campaigns in the last six months, it is like a postponement of a doomsday. Payments for advertisements, radio jingles and television adverts have to be extended for another one week.

But more worried about the postponement are persons who have fixed March as the date for their social events like birthdays, weddings, meetings, memorials and so on. They have lamented the postponement submitting that it has disrupted their plans for their social events which had been planned long time ago.

Mr. Alex Otti, Labour Party governorship candidate in Abia state, while welcoming reasons for the postponement said it will take a toll on politicians’ finances because that means campaigning will not stop.

Though, he admitted that the postponement was anticipated by some of them because of the different cases in Court on the inspection of BVAS. “INEC said it will take them about four to five days to reconfigure the over 170,000 BVAS, and the Court was yet to give his ruling as at Tuesday, then we started suspecting there could be a postponement.

“The resultant effect is that the postponement has left many people stranded. Some who came in from abroad are scheduled to go back on Tuesday, they will not be able to reschedule their flights and so they won’t be able to participate in the election. It is the same thing with people that came from Lagos but are registered in their home states, they will have to go back to their businesses. This will lead to a reduction in participation” he said

But the political parties and other stakeholders have different perspectives to the issue with some of them blaming the electoral commission for its unpreparedness and the display of incapacity in carrying out its responsibilities. Some of them wonder why there should be only one set of BVAS for all elections in the country. Others claim that despite INEC’s four-year planning for the elections, the commission failed to meet their expectations, thereby failing to conduct the elections as planned.

Speaking with the NDR, the Lagos Chairman of the African Action Congress (AAC), Comrade Ayoyinka Oni bemoaned the handling of the postponement of the elections by the electoral commission. He noted that INEC has failed to discharge its duties due to its unpreparedness and lack of readiness to conduct the elections right from the presidential elections adding that the commission has given room for Nigeria to question its competence to conduct free and fair elections.

“INEC was never prepared for the elections, even right from the presidential elections, we all saw the results during the presidential elections. In some places, the elections did not start till 2 pm, some people voted till Sunday night, the collation was still going on till Monday morning, and there were cancellations of results everywhere, some electoral officers could not collect their money to move their elections materials on time. The presidential election was just a joke. So, after we have done that and that has been done, the time for the governorship elections, they are also not ready and that is the truth.

“The cancellation is terrible and wrong; they did not even give a concrete reason. The message sent to the political parties was a shabby one. But it is not surprising the fact that INEC was never ready in the first place, but unwittingly they give room for doubt, people are having different doubts, some people are saying they are planning to rig and people are saying all sorts.

“The postponement is affecting the campaign of every political party but what we are doing is not to sit down and just complain, we see it as an opportunity to push more with the one more week that has been added.

Similarly, the chairman of the African Democratic Congress, Mr George Ashiru told NDR that even though the postponement was inevitable due to compounding legal matters around the electoral commission, it has increased the tempo of his party.

Speaking on the budgetary implication of the election postponement on their campaign activities, Mr Ashiru stated that the development has made his party to incur more expenses. He however noted that the postponement has provided them with the opportunity to further their cause.

“The ADC was not surprised at the postponement given the various legal issues emanating from the bungled BVAS upload matters during the last presidential and National Assembly elections. Our party is not adversely affected in major parts, and indeed we have taken this opportunity provided to increase the tempo of our campaigns across various mediums

.”Naturally, a postponement affects all candidates’ budgetary appropriation as it extends their need for funds to cover expenses for the additional week. But then it is a matter of a cost-benefit analysis, and I think the opportunity to saturate key voting demographics is worth the additional expenses.

“There was a generally high expectation that in a digital age, INEC would have perfected its various use of technology, ensure adequate training and logistics for their army of ad-hoc staff, and demonstrate a greater level of transparency than what was universally observed. There were practically no improvements from previous elections and while some states did better than others, generally speaking, INEC needs to cover all the gaps observed during the last elections. This postponement should provide a window to get all the preparations right.”

Apart from the political party that is affected by the postponement of the elections, some Nigerians whose social events have been slated to hold on March 18th also lamented the adverse effect of the development on their programmes.

Speaking with NDR, Mr Hassan who is supposed to get married on the new day set for the gubernatorial and State Assembly elections recounted the financial, psychological and emotional loss he has suffered since the announcement of the postponement.

“Since I heard the news, I have really felt bad, because looking at the materials myself and my fiancee had bought for the wedding, including some of the souvenirs we planned to share at the wedding which had been tagged with that date has become wasted.

Also, my invitation cards and pamphlets that bear March 18th are now useless. I can not see the emotional, physiological and financial loss I bear at the moment. Many people have been calling me, I don’t know what to say to them. INEC did not have plans; they just did anything they liked.

Similarly, Akinkunmi David, whose wedding ceremony was slated to hold on March 18th, 2023 complained bitterly about INEC’s abrupt decision as a form of high handedness from policy makers in the country.

“It is so saddening that the government that is supposed to be our comforter is making things difficult for us. If I should tell you how this postponement has affected my plans to get married on that Saturday, I won’t end this conversation. Now it is impossible for people to move that day and it means the wedding has to be postponed.

“Despite our preparations, the government has upturned God’s time. Many people, like myself, are confused about what to do next. I just hope the government can be more deliberate with their planning so that it will not be affecting the masses.

Mr Okugbe Anthony, the manager of the MT4 Hotel and event centre also frowned at the change in the plans for the gubernatorial elections. He noted that some people who had booked for their events for Saturday 18th march are already seeking a full refund.

“It is not funny my brother, the postponement affects our business. For instance, those who want to have an event on that day are already asking for refunds for their booking princess. Despite begging them, they are already frustrated, and of course, the postponement is already affecting our business

The electoral umpire announced late on Wednesday, the postponement of the elections from March 11th to March 18th in a statement released by the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on Wednesday, stating that the decision was made to provide the commission with adequate timing to reconfigure the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) ahead of the governorship and state assembly polls.

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