+The Huge Sums INEC Wasted
Last Saturday 16th February 2018, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the early hours of the supposed Election Day, broke the news of the postponement of the exercise due to logistics and resource challenges. Nigerians reacted through their respective social media handles, expressing their disappointment on every front.
The major political parties, All Progressive Congress, APC and Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP followed up with statements to condemn the eleventh-hour decision of INEC to call off an event that has been underway in the last 2 years and has also crippled the social and economic activities across the 36 states. The postponement of the elections, no doubt affects every Nigerian in various ways one can imagine. As at Friday night, almost all the major parties had expended close to N500 million each on logistics. While some had spent close to a billion. One of the biggest losers in the cancellation is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who had also expended millions on logistics to mobilise his party agents across the 36 states of the country supervising his interests at all the polling booths. He is not the only one. Several Senatorial aspirants & National Assembly candidates across all the parties had also paid out huge sums for operations supervision of their zones.
INEC had also made provisions for recruitment of Adhoc Staffs across the country, made up of unemployed youths and NYSC Corps members across the country. 814453 Ad hoc staffs were recruited in all, with the mobilization allowance of 15,000 naira per Election Day. Speaking with 7 Ad hoc staff from 7 different states, City People learned that each Ad hoc staff was paid the sum of 12,500 after the election was rescheduled. This makes a total of 10,180, 662,500 (Ten Billion, One Hundred And Eighty Thousand, Six Hundred And Sixty Two Thousand, Five Hundred Naira Only) for Ad hoc Staff alone. INEC had budgeted N21.4b for personnel cost and N4.1b for overhead to manage the 120,000 polling units across the country in one day.
The waste does not fall on the table of INEC alone. Every political party is expected to mobilize at least one Party agent at every polling unit. With the count of the regular polling unit, this makes 120,000 party agents for just one party. The party with the least mobilization allowance pays 5,000 for each agent. This makes 600,000,000 as mobilization cost for one day alone.
One question in the minds of Nigerians is whether INEC will go on with the Voters slips produced for February 16, 2019, or will have to reproduce new slips for the new dates. The result sheets which have been customized with the election dates will have to be mutilated and burnt.
It is a norm in Nigeria for most Owanbe parties to hold on Saturdays. The selected date, as announced by INEC since 2018 has caused so many party organisers to factor February 16 and March 2, into consideration while picking dates of their weddings, birthdays, burials and so on. Most event planners and intending celebrants who have either picked a date before or after both elections are displaced with the development. Invitation cards would have gone forth and preparation would have been in place. The postponement must have no doubt disrupted the entire event that has been scheduled to hold on the date, that INEC has newly picked for elections.
These categories have invested millions in the planning of their events, but the announcement of postponement will come as a big blow on them. They will be faced with the challenge of how to reach all the invited guests, pick a new date, produce new invitation cards and probably prepare again for foods and drinks, that had been done before.
Also worthy of note is the time and financial cost of bringing in foreign observers who have arrived and booked hotels on the account of their respective states. The ECOWAS, European Union, Transparency International, and other verified observers have incurred logistics worth millions of dollars with 2 days they have arrived with the intention of leaving after the presidential elections and come up with reports. These observers have wasted resources because of the inability of INEC to conduct February 16, 2019. Will the foreign observers go or stay? What about the Presidents from other countries?
It is no news that election-day in any country or state will cripple the economic activities of the day. Most people would go out and buy stuff they may not necessarily need for a week, but for the fear of getting stranded at home, due to unforeseen contingencies.
The election had a salient impact on the transport sector, as motorcycle riders and commercial vehicle operators were off the road, and there was visibly no vehicular movement across the state. This is because there had been a resolve that election will hold on February 16.
All the highways that used to be a beehive of activities of transport operators were very empty as most Yellow bus drivers parked the buses with the thought that election would hold and people will stay home. The market women, traders, and vocational workers have wasted o whole day under a circumstance only INEC can decide.
In the education sector, the students in primary and secondary schools were asked to go home on compulsory mid-term break, to resume on Monday for the regular academic class. The question in the minds of Nigerians remains if these students will also have to go on a mid-term break on Wednesday to the new date of the presidential elections.
Some of the voters who are businessmen decided to travel outside their states of residence to the state of origin to cast their votes. They have closed their jobs and businesses to exercise their franchise in their preferred area of interest. When will they return to their businesses?
Also worthy of note is the cost incurred on the deployment of security personnel in all these voting areas and some other strategic units. Will they be transferred or will remain in their respective place of primary assignment and continue to feed on the allowance as approved by the federal government?
When INEC begins to count all the loss and consider the ripple effect of it’s action and spontaneous decision to reschedule the date of the elections, it is believed that the commission will guard against such eventuality by fashioning out workable modality and machinery that will cover any unforeseen slack from any quarters, to avoid needless waste from the coffers of government. It is, however, commendable that Nigerians, despite the apprehension across the nation, were able to refrain from all civil disorder and remained peaceful, patriotic and united to conserve Nigeria’s democratic development.
–Joseph Seun Emmanuel