Saturday replaces Monday, as South East adjust to sit–at-home
Vehicle burnt by enforcers of sit-at-home in Mbaise, Imo State

The current state of insecurity and sit-at-home protest in the south-east region has led to economic losses estimated at almost N4 trillion, a new report by DevEast Foundation, a non-profit and business advocacy organisation, has said.

Last year, the sit-at-home order was introduced in the south-east by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to protest the detention of Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, who is standing trial for alleged treason and terrorism.

However, on August 14, 2021, the group announced a suspension of the order but modified it to whenever Kanu appears in court

DevEast said the report, titled ‘South East Economy: The Cost of Insecurity and Sit-At-Home Protest on the Business Environment’ was conducted on its behalf by SBM Intelligence, Nigeria’s geopolitical intelligence platform.

It said the study was conducted using qualitative and quantitative methods including surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions.

The report focused on two categories of businesses — transporters and traders/artisans.

TRANSPORTERS LOSE ABOUT N10 BILLION – N13 BILLION EVERY PROTEST DAY

According to the report, transporters plying inter and intra highways and other roads in the five states of the south-east lose between N10 billion and N13 billion every day of the sit-at-home protest.

“An estimated 1,083,000 commercial vehicles (excluding motorcycles and tricycles) are in the south-east region of Nigeria: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo,” the report reads.

“This number is derived from percentage estimates of total commercial vehicle registration numbers in the Q2 2021 road transport data report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).”

TRADING BUSINESSES LOST UPWARDS OF N655 BILLION TO N3.8 TRILLION IN 24 MONTHS

The report also said small and medium enterprises mostly involved in trade and commerce, as well as artisans lost between N655 billion and N3.8 trillion within 24 months.

“Data on the number of SMEs in the south-east were extracted from the SME survey 2021 report. This shows that businesses in the south-east generated between N5.4 billion (N5,461,519,488) to N31 billion (N31,385,900,929) daily,” the report reads.

“If they lost approximately five days in a month from October 2020 (24 months), about 120 days have been lost, which takes the number of lost earnings on only sit-at-home days to between approximately six hundred and fifty-five billion naira (N655,382,338,560) and three-point eight trillion naira (N3,766,308,111,480) losses so far.”

It said the large-scale losses can be traced to specific factors including loss of between four and five working days per week; job losses due to cutbacks by business owners in response to the reduced working hours as well as other lost opportunities.

Other factors include loss of clients and customers who find alternatives because of the unstable business environment in the south-east; increased cost of service delivery because of extra logistical costs.

DevEast said the activities of official and non-state actors of various stripes – ‘unknown gunmen’, Eastern Security Network (ESN) and Ebube Agu and military operations in the zone, agitations by IPOB as well as the #EndSARS protests of 2020 – also worsened the security situation in the region and contributed to the losses.

EBONYI IS MOST IMPACTED BY VIOLENCE

More so, the report found that violence was used to enforce sit-at-home as defaulters were threatened with destruction and loss of property, among other repercussions.

Although all states were affected by violence and threats of violence, it said respondents from Ebonyi state witnessed more aggression compared to other states.

NO GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN BUSINESSES

According to the report, despite the many complaints by businesses, non-governmental organisations and individuals regarding the losses occasioned by the situation, there has been no government intervention or support of any kind to help those impacted.

It added that the agitations, violence and inability of constituted authorities to handle the security situation in the region appear to have further dwindled public trust in the political and community leaders due to their apparent helplessness.

DevEast advised that the state governments need to create intervention plans that increase the liquidity for the people and support them to be able to spend those resources to lubricate the south-east economy in the short term.

 

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