By Merit Ibe
One year after the nation was engulfed in a nationwide EndSARS protests with collosal damage to businesses and means of livelihoods, the organised private sector (OPS) equally said the developement has posed a major economic setback for the country. The EndSARS protests, which started as peaceful gathering of Nigerian youths agitating against police brutality and other condemnable social vices, snowballed into nationwide protests, condemnations and anger. The situation compounded the probem by the pandemic and other challenges.
The OPS had called on governments at all levels and commercial banks to set up interest free trust and intervention funds to support businesses affected.
OPS noted that attacks on businesses of its members, private and government establishments had a serious economic impact on the country, which necessitated governments and private interventions to boost businesses.
Applauding the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Government for the various initiatives and facilities introduced to help businesses bounce back, the organisation cried out that it’s unfortunate that business owners were still lamenting that most of them were not able to access the facilities meant to support them not even palliatives. They also decried that some production lines shut due to the massive destruction and staff were laid off, which caused a sharp increase in unemployment, adding that the attitude of most business owners towards insuring their businesses was part of the set back.
Chairman, MAN Apapa branch, Frank Onyebu, expressed pain that businesses that were impacted by the EndSARS protests were still grappling with their losses one year after. “I’m not aware that any compensation has been paid to business owners. Thankfully, the Lagos State government has paid compensation to some individuals and I hope the largesse will be extended to companies whose businesses were disrupted, vandalised or destroyed as a result of the events associated with the protests.
“Entrepreneurs are becoming an endangered specie in Nigeria. Most businesses are struggling, with several on the verge of collapse. I’m therefore appealing to the government to come to the aid of business owners, who were impacted by the protests.
On the issue of insurance, which made the recovery of some businesses slow, he believes most manufacturers insure their businesses to a certain extent, which depends on the size of the company. Usually the bigger the firm, the more likely it is to fully insure its processes.
Factors responsible for companies refusing to insure their businesses, he said include distrust and ignorance.
Executive Secretary of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Eke Ubiji, bemoaned the state of most members, saying the funds needed to boost their businesses were not accessed. “Accessing credits now from banks to run businesses is quite difficult.
“Small business under NASME are yet to access the funds. The whole thing is sounding like a propaganda. Something has to be done to save the situation.”
On insurance, Ubiji said it was unfortunate that most business owners neglect the importance of insuring their businesses, which worsened the state of things and slowed their recovery.
“If they had insured their businesses, the burden would have been far less than it is now,” lamenting that most business owners treat insurance with levity in this part of the clime. “I think they must have learnt their lessons.”
He noted that some business owners were of the impression that insuring businesses was a waste of resources, as the insurance companies don’t come to their rescue when they really need them, adding that the assumption was wrong. “They cannot brand all insurers as being the same.
He noted that it was a blunder not to insure ones property or business, urging businesses and insurers not to wait until a situation like the sudden destruction.
He commended the CBN and banks for the intervention at the period, but lamented that most of its members complained of not having access to the funds promised.