RESIDENTS of Edo State are already thinking of what could be their losses as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to conduct governorship election in the state on Wednesday, September 28, a working day.
The state government, on Saturday, announced a two-day public holiday, inclusive of the election day and the previous day, in order to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
The two-day holiday might have been anticipated, but concerns had been raised by many in the state even before the announcement, as to the possible commercial loss that would accompany the holiday.
Banks, market women, shop owners, filling stations, commercial transporters, operators of eateries, artisans and some other categories of workers will be affected most by the two-day holiday as commercial activities, both in the formal and informal sectors, will be closed down, leading to loss of productive hours and revenue.
Specifically, the state government could lose as much as N113.32 million as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in two days going by the current state’s monthly IGR of N1.7 billion.
Traders at the Oba Market in Benin City, the state capital, expressed dismay at the holiday, pointing out that two days were too much to be denied their means of livelihood.
Many of them noted that Edo residents could have been saved of this impending economic loss if the election was conducted on a Saturday, instead of Wednesday, which they described as one of the busiest days in a week.
A banker, Mr Michael Adekunle, said the two-day holiday was unfortunate going by the state of the country’s economy.
“The rescheduling of the election is ill-timed if we factor in the current economic condition of the country. The recession is such that government, which is the major driver of the economy ,is supposed to allow full time economic activities.
With the two days, the already depressed economy, will be depressed the more in Edo State, especially as the state’s economy is dominated by the informal sector. The holiday will slow down the economic activities in Edo State and cause a drop in the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.
“The same goes for the banking industry where majority of the people transact businesses through the traditional means of going to the bank. One cannot realy quantify the loss because economic activities are largely informal in Edo State. However, one knows that the sum total of the loss will be in billions of naira,” he said.
Speaking on the choice of Wednesday for the election, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South) accused INEC of disregarding many things in picking the Election Day.
Senator Urhoghide, who said though the economic loss of conducting election on Wednesday could not be quantified, added that, “the money that was wasted the last time by the INEC, the political parties, the Edo people, the media and other stakeholders involved in the election was massive and that it will be more this time around.
“Now that they have put it on Wednesday, it simply means that economic activities would be shut for the election. It is not too much sacrifice to lay for the progress of one’s state, but the problem is that the date appear to have been picked in bad taste as there was no reason for the postponement of the election in the first place.”