Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Profiteers of Nigeria’s 2011 Elections

It is countdown to Nigeria’s April 2011 general elections. In a matter of days, Nigerians will once again file out to exercise their franchise which, hopefully, will bring about a peaceful change of government. While the electoral activities unfold, particularly since the November 23, 2010 release of election timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), some segments of Nigeria’s society have been reaping bountifully from the electioneering season, particularly from the political parties, aspirants and candidates. Major beneficiaries include the hospitality, media, banking, automobile, entertainment and textile industries; real estate and security sectors as well as law firms.

Starting with the hospitality industry, since the beginning of this season, hotels, catering services, event planning agencies have been experiencing boost in their service demand. As politicians gallivant about, canvassing for votes, they hire event planning companies to organise their political rallies; they accommodate their supporters in hotels while also engaging caterers to provide sumptuous meals and snacks for their teeming followers. The media houses too have been smiling to the banks as, in spite of the hike in the advert rates, politicians and their parties still find them indispensable. Electronic media are being engaged to provide live transmission of the political rallies both on radio and television. Electronic and print media organisations are also engaged to provide political communication through jingle productions and airing as well as newspaper advertorials. Many public relation firms are also engaged to brand candidates who can afford it. Many advertising agencies have similarly been engaged to design and mount bill-board adverts for candidates and their political parties while the printers too have been having a field day producing posters, handbills, flyers, stickers’ etcetera for politicians.

It has also been harvest of honey for Nigeria’s popular comedians, musicians, actors and actresses as their services are now in hot demand to add glamour to campaign rallies. Some musicians are actually paid to wax special records to sing praises of some of the politicians contesting in the forthcoming elections. This is the fad among incumbents gunning for second term in office. Nigerian banks have also been making nice profits from many of the politicians banking transactions, the profits are fees charged as Commission on Transaction (CoT) and other sundry administrative charges.

The automobile industry has been experiencing fillip during this campaign season as political office contestants buy and hire vehicles for their campaign rallies. Bullet proof cars are in high demands. The simple reason for this is due to high level of election related violence which in actual fact has escalated during this campaign season. As for the real estate sector, many political parties, aspirants and candidates hire the services of estate agents to shop for party and campaign offices.
There has also been high demand for the services of private security firms as politicians use them as guards for protection during this volatile period of campaigns. There has been noticeable increased patronage of textile industries by politicians who for the purpose of branding often place orders for customised clothing materials which they share out to their supporters.

Law firms rank among the greatest beneficiary of political season in Nigeria. For instance, there have been over 300 petitions filed by lawyers for their clients who were aggrieved contestants’ aftermath of the contentious party primaries held between November 26, 2010 and January 15, 2011. This list of beneficiaries is by no means exhaustive as mention can also be made that as a result of the adoption of broom as the logo of Action Congress of Nigeria (one of the 63 registered political parties in Nigeria) the price of broom often increase sharply wherever the party goes for campaign as it is in the character of their supporters to brandish broom as a means of demonstrating support and solidarity to the candidates and the party.
As highlighted, the sudden boost in the demand for these goods and services is seasonal and associated with electioneering period. So for the beneficiaries, enjoy it while it lasts.