The 2019 General Elections Postponement: The Cost Implications

Mrs Kachi had kept vigil alongside her two daughters, mixing the flour to fry the puff-puff which they intended to take to the polling units in their neighborhood later in the day. The boisterous wails of Mrs Kachi alerted her next-door neighbor, Mrs Hadiza who on hearing about the postponement of the election, remembered her bucket of freshly made kunu. They locked themselves in a warm embrace and erupted in to a raucous rancorous chorus of “I am dead o, Nigeria has killed me o!”. Their beloved country had just put them in debt.

From the popular Omoni Oboli who flew into the country on Saturday morning to exercise her right as a citizen, to the obscure Danfo driver who would have earned some thousands on Saturday, the sudden postponement of elections was a cankerworm that shook the nation from the micro to the macro economy.

The cost of the unexpected cancellation might not be exactly measurable, however examining the key variables that interplayed, we could reach an estimate of its financial implication for the country. To start with, it might be surprising, but the political parties are the first set of losers, as they pay their agents prior to the election.

According to INEC, there were 119,974 polling units, 8,809 wards and 774 local governments.
Below were the estimated costs for the polling agents of political parties:

Venues Numbers in Units Cost per person Total
Polling Units 119,974 15,000 1,799,610,000
Wards 8,809 30,000 264,270,000
Local Governments 774 100,000 77,400,000
2,141,280,000

This translates that, the political parties lost over 2billion naira to payment of polling agents alone. This is based on the very unlikely assumption that the political parties had just one polling agent at each venue.
The electoral body, INEC also incurred some losses which include logistic costs, cost of security personnel, cost of advertisement and many other miscellaneous cost totaling an estimated 6.2 billion naira. See table here.

In Nigeria, every day is a busy day and Saturday wouldn’t have been an exception. If not for the cancelled election, Mrs Kachi would have sold her normal puff-puff, Mrs Hadiza would have sold her kunu and the Danfo driver would have charged transportation fees. It is the accumulation of all these micro economic activities that leads to the macro forces that affects the economy. For a country that amassed a
GDP of about 420 billion dollars in 2018, a loss of work for about 24 hours would result to the loss of 1.2 billion dollars. You can see the sectoral analysis and calculations here.

Drawing the curtain, a cost that can’t be measured is the cost of misplaced trust the electoral body has built in the electorate. Would those who embarked on a long journey to their various states go through the same stress this week? Is there any ascertained assurance that INEC would be ready on Saturday, 23rd February 2019? Would the loss that knocked on last Saturday be recuperated? Only time will tell.

In case of questions or further enquiries, please contact any of:
Kenechi Obele (08166756383) David Agagu (08074800886)
Oyeyemi Oke (08082004040) Bidemi Olumide (07081948647)

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