Financial experts lament elections postponement

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Financial experts on Saturday said the hasty postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would create uncertainty and affect inflow of foreign investments.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that the hasty postponement a few hours to the Presidential and National Assembly elections was not good for the economy and investors’ confidence.

NAN reports that INEC hours earlier, announced the shift of the Feb. 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23.

The Governorship and State House of Assembly as well as FCT area council elections have also been shifted from March 2 to March 9.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a press conference, attributed the postponement of all the scheduled elections to logistic and operational problems.

Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State said the development would create unnecessary uncertainty in the economy and affect inflow of foreign investment.

Tella said the country’s inability to stabilise election processes 20 years after would affect the way foreign investors perceived Nigeria.

He said the development would affect inflow of foreign investments, both portfolio and direct investments.

“Uncertainty is the operating atmosphere in Nigeria but businesses thrive under certainty and predictable situations,” Tella said.

He said the postponement would bring about extra cost for businesses and Nigerians.

Tella said business successes depended not only on macroeconomic stability but also on political stability.

“Businesses that have shifted some programmes because of the elections have to start making adjustments which outcomes may not be optimal.

“When INEC released its plan long ago, I thought we had arrived but this last minute botch shows that we still have a long way to go,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., said the postponement of the elections showed that government and INEC were not prepared.

Omordion said the postponement a few minutes to the election day would further slow down economic activities and as well cause cautious trading in the nation’s bourse.

He said investors’ confidence as seen in the recent stock market rebound would be dampened with the development.

Omordion wondered why INEC had been feeding Nigerians with lies that they were prepared for the elections only to announce a shift when it mattered most.

Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., said the postponement of the elections would be a huge cost to the economy in view of the fact that schools had been closed for almost three days ahead of the elections.

Kurfi said many companies and markets had been closed due to the elections while many individuals had traveled to various destinations in order to cast their votes only for it to be postponed.

“Logistics cost have been incurred by INEC; where will they get extra budget to augment the short fall.

“It is clear that we are not ready to learn from the past mistakes. INEC should learn to make contingency arrangements rather than postponement.

“This will not allow the rest of the world to take us as a serious nation. The Presidency should set up a committee to investigate the reason for the postponement and whoever is responsible for it should be brought to book,” he said.

Mr Moses Igbrude, Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said the postponement of the presidential election on the same day of the election was unfortunate.

Igbrude said the postponement was unacceptable and should be condemned in its entirety.

He said the shift would create uncertainty and doubt on the ability of the commission to conduct free and fair polls.

Igbrude said the development would create economic waste and untold hardship to the electorate, noting that, many people had travelled to various locations to exercise their civic responsibility.

He decried the effect of economic waste the postponement would have on state governments, private businesses and foreign and local election observers.

Igbrude added that some state governments had declared work-free days while some organisations worked for a half-day in order to prepare for the elections.

“This action will surely frustrate and discourage the electorate from voting. I sincerely appeal to INEC and President Muhammadu Buhari not to throw Nigeria into problem.

“They should make sure that they conduct elections that will be free and acceptable to everybody,” Igbrude stated.

He, however, appealed to voters to be calm and ensure they perform their civic responsibility.

Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam (NAN)

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