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Nigerians react to ‘holy Saturdays’ as polls shift

For two consecutive Saturdays in Nigeria, there will be no ‘Owambes’ nationwide as a result of the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, rescheduled for February 23, 2019.

The election was initially scheduled for the 16th of February, however, the Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, announced that the Presidential and National Assembly elections could no longer hold on the scheduled day, four hours to the polls.

Saturday in Nigeria is famous for diverse social gatherings, especially in Lagos. Since INEC’s announcement of the election dates, February 16 and 23 were infamously tagged “Holy Saturdays” as no events will hold on either day. No weddings, no burial ceremonies, no religious activities, no educational activities, no official sporting activities and, sadly, no owambes.

Reacting to the extension of the ‘Holy Saturdays,’ an event center manager at Events Royale, Ojo, Mr. Kayode Anofi, said that the postponement of the elections is nobody’s fault and an event that was originally scheduled for 23rd of February at the centre has been moved to a day when the hall will be free.

“Everybody is aware that the election has been rescheduled, which we never planned for… In a situation like this, everyone is a Nigerian, and it is a sacrifice everybody has to pay,” Mr Anofi said.

Femi Oguniyi, an event planner based in Lagos, said that the postponement of the election brought confusion at first, as he had a wedding scheduled to hold at his event centre on the new date. Luckily, he was able to contact the couple and they agreed to put the wedding on hold until things are a bit more certain.

He noted that it is easier to postpone an election than it is to have a planned date for an event and postpone it.

“We were supposed to have a major event this Saturday, the problem now is the caters have been paid, the musician has been paid, the security has been paid, we have paid for the hall, and before we can put together an event, it takes us a lot of time. For this Saturday’s event, we started the arrangement since last year,” Oguniyi explained.

Mr Oguniyi quipped that the event, originally expected to hold on the 23rd of this month, might not hold for another 2 months as they try to reschedule their bookings.

“Ok, let’s say as the elections has been shifted, let’s say we want to move the event by two weeks, the question now is where is the venue? Are we using the same venue? How are you sure that those [services] that have been paid for next week’s jobs [are still] available? [Also,] they may not refund your money because they might have used it. So rather than them working with your own programme, you will be forced to work with theirs or pay extra money,” he said.

A live and artiste known as Jide Ajayi disclosed: “When I first heard about the election postponement, I thought about the person that has paid for my services for this Saturday, I had to call him to discuss how to reschedule the event. The work that we were supposed to do for this Saturday has been postponed and it clashing with another event where  I am supposed to perform at.”

Mr Ajayi explained that he will have to split clashing events with his colleagues in order to keep his customers happy.

A groom to be, Abraham Ejabefio, whose wedding was originally scheduled for the 23rd of February, stated that the wedding has to be shifted to March 2nd.

Mr Ejabefio expressed disappointment in the fact that the invitation cards have to be reprinted, the new date must be shared on social media and the date in the program booklet, which has already been printed, has to be corrected.

As a result of this date change, he noted that he has had to reassure his bride to be that the wedding will still hold, regardless of the date change.

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