Lagos: Gas marketers lament effect of postponed elections on business chains


File photo of gas cylinders 
The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), said on Sunday that the postponed general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had affected their businesses negatively.
Mr Bassey Essien, the Executive Secretary of NALPGAM, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the postponement posed serious challenges to members’ multi-billion naira investments in cooking gas distribution chains.
He said that the hasty action a few hours to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, was not good for the economy and business environment.
NAN reports that INEC in the early hours of Saturday, announced the shift of the Feb. 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23 after the commission had said it was fully prepared for the polls.
The Governorship and State Houses of Assembly as well as FCT area council elections were also shifted from March 2 to March 9 by INEC.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a news conference, attributed the postponement of all the scheduled elections to logistics and operational problems.
According to Essien, like every business, a lockdown of the country without conducting the elections on that appointed day has a colossal negative effect on trading and businesses generally.
“The forced idleness of the day and the financial losses on the day of the postponed elections can only best be imagined, the LPG business also inclusive.
“The supply process of the cooking gas distribution chain on a daily basis involves several billions of naira investments and was affected by the postponement of the elections,’’ he said.
Essien said: “If this volume of fund is tied down and is unproductive in a day, you can imagine the losses incurred.
“Even for funds borrowed from the banks, interests are charged on daily basis. Imagine having to pay interest on funds you have been deprived of its usage by the negligence of the system.
“This will not exonerate the business owners from interest payment for that day on the borrowed funds.
“On our side, billions of naira has been lost on the wasted day from the lockdown and subsequent postponement, “the NALPGAM scribe said.
“Adjustment could not be made instantly even after the postponement because it is sudden and the risk of perhaps an anticipated breakdown of law and order, had forced businesses to remain locked down.
He said that on a conservative estimate, and following the supply and demand value chain of the LPG industry with particular reference to cooking gas, the economy has been stagnated by over N4.57billion due to the inactivity of the day.
He said that the unfortunate election postponement was gradually becoming a fad in the country, adding that INEC had ample time to prepare for the elections, going by its calendar.
He urged government to unbundle the commission into sub commissions with different tasks, rather than vest all the tasks on a body whose manpower alone cannot cover the entire gamut of electioneering in the country.
“Where there are anticipated hiccups which may occasionally arise beyond the powers of the commission, the country should be told the truth.
“If a shift in date is necessary, there should be ample notice of such so that the citizenry can also make adjustments and adapt to the shift.
“It’s better than assuming the country is one small enterprise that one can just wake up to make a pronouncement about and expect life to go on as usual,’’ he added.(NAN)

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