Private sector lost N5tn to #EndSARS unrest – NECA

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The looting and arson that trailed the hijacking of peaceful #EndSARS protests by hoodlums across the nation cost the private sector N5 trillion in loss of investments and assets.

The Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) disclosed this through its President, Taiwo Adeniyi, at a press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday.

He said that the figure was got from estimation based on findings from affected privately-owned businesses, and described the hoodlum attacks as “colossal and barbaric”.

Adeniyi lamented that the affected businesses were already reeling from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NECA President noted that the businesses have been finding it difficult to fulfil financial obligations to creditors, employees and regulators.

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“Organised businesses became some of the victims of the colossal and barbaric destruction and vandalism of critical investment and assets by hoodlums.

“While the Lagos State Government estimated a loss of about N5tn and Plateau State Government estimated over N700bn, the total value of the economic loss to organised businesses nationwide could be in the region of over N5tn.

“From looted machineries, consumables, livestock, raw-materials, pharmaceutical products, luxury goods and cash to actual and wicked vandalism and destruction of walls, smashed and mutilated doors, glasses, damaged critical electricity infrastructures, burnt buildings and properties and looted stocks. The list is endless.

“The actual value in terms of financial, emotional and psychological loss suffered as a result of the arson and looting experienced by these businesses can only be imagined and the impact will linger for a long time,” Adeniyi lamented.

The NECA boss called for further initiatives to be urgently put in place to ensure a quick return to economic normalcy across the country.

Adeniyi said that the Federal Government should urgently make public details of its planned support for businesses affected during the October #EndSARS protest hijacked by hoodlums.

“We recommend that deliberate bail-out funds should be given to verified businesses affected by the crisis.

”Other programmes and interventions aimed at supporting these businesses to get back to production and remain sustainable and competitive should also be urgently initiated.

“While the additional window of penalty and interest waiver for businesses by the Federal Inland Revenue Services is commendable, what businesses really need at this critical period is substantial tax relief.

“This will enable businesses stay afloat and also keep productive activities going. It is in our national interest to enable businesses surmount the challenges of rising unemployment,” he said.

The NECA president also called on the government to set aside an intervention fund for the purpose of easing the burden of losses incurred by businesses as a result of the vandalism.

According to him, such funds will make a huge difference and is in the enlightened self-interest of the nation.

“Approval of funds from the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) among other possible measures will help stabilise the system and stop further increase in unemployment rate.

“It is expected that there will be a likely threshold of higher premium attached to the insurance cover of the property destroyed during the unfortunate incident.

“We, therefore, call for intervention to reduce the risk for businesses as cash flow will be tremendously affected in this regard,” the NECA president said.

He urged the government to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of those found culpable in the killing and harassment of innocent citizens which necessitated the call for #EndSARS.

He called for the arrest and prosecution of the hoodlums that perpetrated the wanton looting and destruction.

“While the wanton destruction of property and loss of lives were regrettable, the factors that led to the protest and eventual hijack by hooligans should not be lost on us as a people,” he said.

Adeniyi said that greater efforts should be made to promote creativity, innovation, technical and vocational skills development, enterprise and competitiveness as a way out of unemployment, poverty and social dysfunction bedevilling the nation.

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