WARRI – The postponement of the 2019 General Elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to generate reactions not only across the nation, but also globally especially with the influx of International Observers that were all ready in Nigeria, ready to monitor the elections at different locations.
To majority of the people, postponing the elections barely few hours to the proposed commencement was not only a national embarrassment, but also shows that Nigeria never really learns from the past; because history always repeats itself.
In 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission under the leadership of Professor Attahiru Jega, also gave logistics as reason for the postponement of the general elections by one week, but one would have expected that, these grey areas had been taken care of by the Professor Mahmood Yakubu led INEC especially with series of assurances from him at different fora that the elections would go on as scheduled.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Donor Agencies, having spent huge amounts of money in organizing workshops and trainings for key stakeholders as well as the Media have in no doubt incurred huge losses: with the deployment of staff Outside Broadcasting Vans (OBV) and other equipments for the postponed exercise.
The postponement has indeed impacted negatively on most people.
In Effurun /Warri for example, the enthusiasm with which a lot of people were ready to exercise their franchise came crumbling as the news of the postponement filtered in, early hours of Saturday, February 16th.
Streets were deserted, with shops under lock and key. The ever busy Warri Sapele Road in Uvwie Local Government of Delta State was almost like a ghost land ; the bustling Ekpan and Jakpa Roads, were also deserted especially with the early hours of Saturday’s assassination of an Aide to the state government, which a lot of people alleged was politically motivated.
A lot of people who had traveled from different parts of the country to town, to enable them perform their civic responsibilities, blamed the electoral umpire and accused them of inefficiency.
Paul Adipe, who had traveled down from his station because of the elections said, ” Postponing the elections for whatever reason is in itself bad; but worse is the timing. How can you postpone elections few hours to the scheduled time. I mean this is so annoying.
“Do you know the inconveniences, the risk on the road and the amount of time and money that just went down the drain? ” He qurreied.
Mrs.Nkechi Eze, a local food vendor, who was although not going to vote as according to her, all efforts she made to get her PVC was unsuccessful, lamented her losses because she had planned to make brisk business from selling food to voters.
She said” I am so confused now. I don’t know what to do with the food I prepared. These people are wicked!
Imagine the money…over #20, 000 who do I sell to? Will I go and start knocking on the doors of individuals to sell food to them? No, just tell me, she lamented.
Another lady simply identified as Pat, said” I woke up around 1am to start frying puff puff, only to hear that there is no election. Now what happens to the money I have spent? The only thing I can manage to preserve if there is light , is the Zobo drink. This is bad. ”
Also expressing displeasure over the postponed elections, Tina, who was recently bereaved of a relative, lamented the negative impact they felt as a family.
According to her, ” Everything has been put in place and we were just waiting for the day. What kind of country is this?”
However, few residents appear to be resolute in their quest for entrenching democracy.
Mr. Ibe John , is one of such. According to him, ” If they like let them postpone the elections by 2 two years, we are not moved. We will still go and vote our right candidate on that day. ” He enthused.
Oke Akpors, another respondent, said” With this kid doing of thing now, how do they expect us to come out to vote? You tell me why I will waste my time to go and vote. ”
Academic calendar of schools have been altered because most students were on Midterm break. Another unplanned school break seems inevitable as Nigerians prepared to go the polls on the new dates.
Church activities were also not left out of the negative impact of the postponed elections as they have their programmes either cancelled on put on hold wasting resources earlier deployed in preparing for such programmes.
A popular saying goes thus: “Different strokes for different folks. Even with the plethora of challenges and complaints over the postponed elections, some people especially the hotel owners are smiling to the banks because it also means more money in their accounts.
While the ruling all Progressives Congress ( APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) continue to trade blames of influencing the postponement of the 2019 general elections, what is most important to Nigerians at this crucial time of our history as a people , is to have a free, fair, credible elections devoid of violence in line with global best practice. That will also serve as some form of damage control ; at least the International community will applaud Nigeria for getting it right at last.