Economists have estimated the possible cost of last Saturday’s election postponement in Nigeria at over $9billion.
Nigerians woke up last Saturday to find out that the presidential and National Assembly polls had been shifted by a week, few hours to commencement.
Nigerians who were surprised when the country’s presidential election was postponed, might suffer a second shock when they learn the cost, some economists and business leaders say.
‚ÄúThe cost to the economy of the postponement of the election is horrendous,‚ÄĚ said Muda Yusuf, general Director of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
‚ÄúThe economy was on partial shutdown the day before, and total shut down on Saturday for the elections‚ÄĚ that did not take place,‚ÄĚ he lamented.
For economist Bismark Rewane however, “the most important cost … is the reputational cost.
‚ÄúInvestors‚Äô confidence will be eroded,‚ÄĚ he said, adding that in the long term, when indirect costs were taken into account, the delay might cost the equivalent of two percentage points of national output.
In currency terms, Rewane estimated the possible cost at ‚Äúnine to 10 billion dollars.‚ÄĚ
The streets of Lagos were still empty early Sunday as the sprawling economic capital of 20 million people recovered from the disappointment and anger provoked by a last minute, one-week delay blamed on logistical issues.
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the delay just hours before polls to elect the head of Africa’s most populous nation and members of parliament were to commence.
INEC cited problems in the distribution of ballot papers and results sheets, as well as sabotage, after three fire incident at its offices in two weeks.
The leading candidates, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and major challenger, Abubakar Atiku, both called for calm, but a population of 190 million people facing unemployment and extreme poverty took a real financial hit from the decision.
For many, the cost of leaving cities where they work to go home and vote in their native regions is substantial.
Social media was used meanwhile, to organise collections for street vendors who had bought perishable items to sell to voters that often wait in long queues.
The amount ultimately raised was unlikely to make much difference to tens of millions of people who live on less than $1.9 a day, but it did highlight solidarity not always widespread in the country.
Many businesses, including the critical port of Lagos had shut down last Friday staff to enable leave cities before an election-related curfew took effect on Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Airports and border crossing points had stopped operating as well.
Additional materials from Leadership