BY EMEKA EJERE
The Nigerian economy has lost over N700 billion to the #EndSARS protests over the last 12 days, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has revealed.
This is compounding the economic frustration of a nation on the verge of another recession, the second in less than four years and which currently deploys a chunk of its budget to debt servicing.
The National Assembly is currently deliberating on the 2021 national budget estimate of N13.08 trillion (about $34 billion), with debt services expected to gulp N3.12 trillion, about 25% of the budget.
President of LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, while reviewing the economic implications of the protest, noted that LCCI appreciates the value of citizens’ engagement and the demand for accountability, which the protest represents, but lamented the negative impact on the economy.
Mabogunje stated: “These are in consonance with democratic norms. They also form vital ingredients for good governance.
“LCCI is however concerned about the negative impact that the protracted nature of the EndSARS protests has on business activities across the country.
“Over the past twelve days, economic activities have been crippled in most parts of the country, particularly profound in the urban areas. The Nigerian economy has suffered an estimated seven hundred billion naira (N700 billion) loss in the past twelve days.”
She asserted that the protest has been impactful and profound, adding that it has achieved some significant outcomes by reawakening the need to reform the shortcomings in the nation’s political governance.
The LCCI president however said that to protect the livelihoods of Nigerians, including the business community, the protesters need to progress to the next stage of civic engagement, which is dialogue.
“This is necessary to reduce the massive disruptions, blockades and barricades around our major cities and interstate highways. These actions have been at great cost to the economy and the welfare of Nigerian citizens. It should be noted that our economy is still reeling from the shocks of the COVID-19 Pandemic and struggling to recover from its devastating effects,” she added.
To this end, Mabogunje said LCCI therefore proposes: “That President Muhammadu Buhari should urgently grant audience to the leadership of the protest to deliberate on the way forward and to agree on an action plan for the delivery of agreed outcomes.
“That the government should commit to rapid improvement in governance quality and accountability by effecting necessary institutional, policy and regulatory reforms not only for the police but the entire public sector ecosystem.
“The leadership of the protest should occupy the seats provided to participate in the reforms to be implemented by government in response to their demands,” Mabogunje added.