Following the rescheduling of the general elections the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerians from all walks of life have continued to react to the postponement and lamenting the disruptions the new dates will cause in their economic and social lives even as they said decision will affect them economically as well as disrupt their calendar particularly as it affects social engagements.
INEC announced the postponement of the elections in the early hours of Saturday 16 citing hitches in its operational and logistic plans. The electoral umpire had initially fixed the National Assembly elections for February 16 and that of Governorship, State Houses of Assembly Election and the Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections for March 3.
Nigerians in their numbers condemned the postponement lamenting that it has exposed them to economic loss and disrupted academic and social calendars even as it will increase the travel cost of many Nigerians who travelled to their home states to cast their votes.
In an interview with this newspapers, Managing Director of MediaPro, an Integrated Marketing Communications company in Lagos explained that the economic implications of the postponement is huge and irrecoverable adding that it will cause politicians to spend more on the campaign trail.
“The economic implications of the shift in the date of elections is huge and cannot really be quantified as billions of naira have been lost due to the paralysis of business that ought to have taken place in the last 12 hours of people not going out for their daily business activities because they have unwittingly conditioned their minds towards not stepping out today other than to go about the voting exercise but truly people just took the day as a free holiday day.
“In addition, on the political side, politicians are going to be spending more than they budgeted as the window of advertising opportunities is further extended by at least five more days till Thursday next week as well as other communications tools like below the line materials,” he explained.
THISDAY investigations also show that the postponement will also affect academic calendar of both public and privates schools in the country. Some proprietors of private schools in Lagos who spoke on condition of anonymity said the postponement will affect their academic calendar haven announced the commencement of the Mid-Term Holidays to coincide with the initial elections dates so that the children could be within the safety of their homes and under the care of their parents.
The owner of a nursery, primary and secondary school is based in Lagos said her school will go on with the Mid-Term Holidays as announced earlier adding that other holidays may be declared to accommodate the new dates for the governorship, states house of assembly and FCT Area Council elections.
“As it is, we have announced the Mid-Term Break to accommodate the exigencies of the elections initially fixed for February 16, as it is; we cannot call off the break and asked the children to return to school. My school will allow it run its full course. As for the other election after the presidential election, we will cross the bridge when we get there,” she declared.
However, in a swift reaction to the situation, the Lagos State Government through the office of the Deputy Governor announced a readjustment in the school calendar in reaction to the rescheduled general elections.
In a statement signed by Director General, Education Quality Assurance in the state’s Ministry of Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, directed all private and public schools in the state to resume on Monday 18 of February. The statement further directed that the school management and owners private schools a revised academic calendar.
“I have the directive of Her Excellency, Deputy Governor of Lagos State to inform ALL Lagos State stakeholders and the general public that the state government is compelled by the change in election dates to further review the 2018/19 school academic calendar as stated below.
“All schools resume Monday 18th February, 2019. All schools in Lagos are expected to close on the following dates: Friday 22 February and to resume on Monday25th. Friday 8th March and to resume on Monday 11th March,” the statement read.
In the same vein some of the parents who spoke with this newspaper stated that the postponement will disrupt the academic calendar parents lamented that the postponement will affect their initial plans for returning their wards to school after picking them up ahead of the initial February 16 date for the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Speaking with THISDAY, a parent, Wale Bada described the decision of INEC as insensitive to the plight of Nigerians and lamented that the postponement has disrupted his initial plans bordering on the schooling calendar of his daughter who schools in Ogun State adding that he was waiting on the management of the his ward’s school before deciding on the next line of action.
“Honestly, the postponement is destabilizing. I picked my daughter up from school with the hope of taking her back to school on Tuesday, now that the election has been rescheduled for next Saturday, does it mean I will take her back to school on Tuesday then return to pick her on Friday? As it is I am at a dilemma, I just can’t figure out how to handle it just yet. I am just waiting to hear from the school’s management before I will decide on how to deal with the situation, but, it is not a pleasing situation in the least,” Bada explained.
Meanwhile, Nigerians with social engagements already fixed for the new dates have also joined in the lamentation chorus as they cue what will become of their events. One such person said he was mindful of the initial dates when she fixed her wedding for 23rd of February.
THISDAY findings also discovered that a socio-political organisation, Brodas Across Nigeria had fixed its quarterly General Assembly for the week of 22nd of February through 23 February. The reaction of the organisation could, however, not be got as at going to press.
While lamenting the clash of her wedding date with that of the rescheduled elections, Miss Rita Osawende, a Benin based bride-to be, pleaded with INEC to revisit the date adding that she had shifted the date from February 16 to 23 due to the clash with the date of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“INEC please help me revisit this issue. The original date was fixed for February 16, but as soon as I knew its elections day, it was postponed to February 23.
“What do I do; all arrangements have been made. I have printed and distributed my invitation cards for the wedding. I am so confused,” she said.
Other families have however commenced shifting dates of their social engagement in reaction to the new election dates. THISDAY findings also showed that the families of Late Prince Joseph Enosegbe had shifted the burial plans of their mother, Princess Deaconess Mary Enosegbe from the initial date.
In a WhatsApp message the family stated that “due to the postponement of the election, we the Enosegbe family regret to announce the postponement of the final burial ceremony of our mother Mrs. MARY ENOSEGBE from March 8th, 9th and 10th to the following weekend March15th, 16th and 17th 2019. We are sorry for the inconvenience this might have caused you. God bless you as you honour our invitation.
Findings by THISDAY among petty traders and artisans in Lagos, many of who said they are dependent on daily sales for the upkeep of their family, revealed a huge anger directed at INEC. The traders and artisans said that the postponement will double their economic loss adding they could not open for business yesterday even after the elections were called off.