Investors reluctant to invest, consumers careful to spend over fear of electoral violence – Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has said that free and fair election is crucial because it is meant to support the primary objective of enabling the citizens to live well and have access to jobs and services.

The Vice President, who stated this on Tuesday at the Leadership Annual Conference and Award, said there is reluctance to invest before the election and consumers are careful not to spend their savings because of the fear of electoral violence.

“The daily struggles for food for shelter for clothing are bigger than any other matters. Certainly bread and butter trump everything else. So in our democracy, where we have today over 200 million people, 90 million of whom require education, and job opportunities, those are under the age of 30 and all others requiring health care infrastructure and social service, the enormity of the challenges are stuck.

“Democracy, the rule of law and the election of governments by free and fair elections are crucial, because they are meant to support the primary objective of enabling citizens to live well and have access to well-paying jobs, opportunities and services, or in a broad sense to support the growth and stability of the economy and the social structure of the nation.

“So it is evident then that we must carefully curate these safeguards for the well-being of our citizens to ensure that they do not negatively affect the very well-being that they are meant to protect, namely, the economy and the social structure of society. And this is a delicate task indeed because in every election cycle, the first casualty is the economy.

“There is a reluctance to invest before the elections. Consumers are careful not to spend their savings or to be bullish in the stock market sometimes because of the fear of electoral disturbances that might spiral out of control and make business and commerce impossible”, he said.

Osinbajo said for the most sophisticated economic actors, it makes sense to simply wait until the complexion of the new government is clear. He noted that the prospects for the disruption of the economy are even greater, where elections for one reason or the other, produce governments that are not credible.

“Legitimacy of governments as conferred by the freely given mandate of the electorate is a major consideration as we’ve heard from our guest speaker. For self for savvy investors, both local and foreign capital, they say is a great coward, running away from the slightest sign of trouble”, he noted.

He further stated that Nigerians know from their recent Electoral history, that there are too many examples of electoral violence following disputed electoral outcomes. He said this of course, usually means the destruction sometimes public and private property and infrastructure, aside from the waste of man hours, while the unrest lasts and its immediate aftermath.

In his remarks, the former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga said elections and democracy are failing in Africa not be because a majority of Africa’s voters prefer authoritarian, non-democratic forms of government, but because an organized elite, keen to protect narrow selfish interests, has forged strategic alliances and captured strategic systems and institutions of various nations with the sole purpose of subverting the substance of elections.

“In a number of countries, we are witnessing a situation in which the majority is increasingly at the mercy of the minority with regard to free, fair, transparent and credible elections. Africans, who wake up at dawn, stand in long queues all day to cast their ballot, end up with results that indicate their votes were not counted and did not count.

“In the last decade, many of our nations have evolved modern systems for collection, collation, transmission and tallying of election results. Many have adopted a results management system that combines traditional vote counting and tallying processes, and use of technology to verify voter eligibility, register votes and transmit results”, he said.

He said there is need for further reforms to make the voting process more accessible and reliable; enhance protections against mistake, irregularity, confusion, and fraud.

“There is need to rethink use of technology. Either we adopt reliable election technology, including voting machines that generate a voter-verifiable audit trail, so voters can confirm that their choices are being recorded accurately or we go fully manual.

“Here is my call to action. If Africa’s elite autocrats are uniting against free and fair elections, Africa’s democrats must also unite and defend democracy. We must build a continent wide pro-democracy coalition and look out for each other”, he said.

Odinga said the continent’s democrats must treat the subversion of election anywhere on the continent as a subversion of the people’s will everywhere on the continent.

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