Business News: South-East Loses N7.6tr, Productivity, Investments To Agitation In Two Years

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Business News: South-East Loses N7.6tr, Productivity, Investments To Agitation In Two Years

On the 9th of August, this year, it would have been 730 days since the South-east region began to observe the weekly sit-at-home exercise as declared by proponents of the separatist state of Biafra, to press for the release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

Of the 730 days, every Monday, beginning from August 9, 2021, had been observed as sit-at-home in the region, thus grounding economic activities in the region and causing the region an estimated loss of N7.6 trillion in productivity, potential investments as well as loss of lives and properties.

Since the commencement of the exercise in 2021 and this year, 105 Mondays of the 520 working days have been lost in terms of productivity or any real economic activity.

This leaves the South-east region with 415 days in which her people are expected to go to work. Of the remaining 415 days, public holidays declared by the government further deplete the available productivity period in the region.

An investigation by The Guardian showed that since the Monday sit-at-home started, productivity has seriously dwindled in the region; jobs are threatened; there is a loss of confidence by investors; insecurity has increased; and there is a near collapse in the infrastructure of the region with the attendant spike in social vices.

Despite assurances from the newly-inaugurated governors, the people have remained adamant and stayed indoors to avoid becoming victims of the lawless group enforcing the sit-at-home order.

An investigation sponsored by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) published in May this year on the economy of the region as a result of sit-at-home revealed a whopping N5.375 trillion loss by businesses between August 9, 2021, to December 19, 2022.

But an Economic and Financial Expert, Dr Chiwuike Uba, stated that Southeast had lost “approximately N7.646 trillion between August 2021 and July 2023 having lost 101 days within the period”.

He stated that it was incontrovertible that the economy of the southeast is bleeding from the compulsory Monday sit-at-home.

“It is important to note that the amount may be higher when all the direct and indirect costs of the sit-at-home are included in the basket. The current figure represents mainly the losses of microenterprises in the region.

The social and economic costs of deaths, destruction of properties and other costs are not included in the total economic loss to the region”, he stated.

Checks with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), revealed that the southeast region remains the region with the least revenue profile.

The Bureau’s data on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of various state governments in the country for the first quarter of 2021 indicated that the southeast region generated about N53 billion in the following order; Abia N7.550b; Anambra N12.773b; Enugu N14.140b; Ebonyi N7.753b and Imo N9.991b. This was a few days before the commencement of the Monday sit-at-home in the zone.

A further check indicated that none of the states in the zone met their revenue targets in the preceding year. A review by Dataphyte, a media, research and data analytics organization about the projected IGR of states in the first quarter of 2023 indicated that aside from Anambra state achieved 27% of its projected revenue, other states in the region, including Imo, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states generated below 15% of their projected internal revenue.

Anambra state governor, Prof Charles Soludo during his swearing-in on March 17, 2022, stated that every day that there was sit-at-home, the poor masses of the state lose as much as an estimated N19.6 billion.

He had listed those in this category as artisans, Keke drivers, vulcanizers, hairdressers, cart pushers, petty traders, bricklayers, women frying akara and all who depend upon daily toil and sweat to feed their families.

Soludo who added that a significant part of the Anambra economy was powered by artisans, further lamented that “due to the protracted law and order, businesses are relocating outside Igboland, with growing unemployment, and traders who used to come to shop in Onitsha, Aba etc are going elsewhere”.

He added that forcing the children who are the future of Igboland to stay at home when they should be in school and the sick people including pregnant women who should be in hospital not to go, harms the future of Igboland.

Only recently, the Governor of Enugu state, Peter Mbah banned sit-at-home in the state effective June 5, this year.

He had revealed that the ban was necessary following the realization that the state was losing N10 billion every Monday that people observed sit-at-home in the state, stressing that the trend was endangering the $30 billion GDP projection of his administration.

“For us to transit from a public service economy to a private sector-driven one, we must free our markets from the shackles of restriction to commerce”, he had told the people of the state.

On Monday, July 17, more than one month after his order, Mbah however, decided to move around the state to monitor the rate of compliance to his directive. Moving around, he discovered to his chagrin that some markets, businesses, and institutions had continued to remain under lock and key as residents still sat at home.

Perturbed by the development, Mbah threatened to revoke the licenses of businesses that fail to open on Monday, July 24 in the state.

“There are consequences for not heeding our orders. Going forward, I want to put you on notice. I will go around the state again on Monday (July 24).

We are going to come with the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority to put a seal on any shop that is found locked on Monday because of the illegal sit-at-home. We will take it that you are not ready to do business.

“We are going to revoke your license to operate. We will revoke your shop title and reallocate it to someone else, who is ready to do business. This is something we must enforce with effect from Monday next week”, he forewarned.

He had insisted that: “It should never be heard that we were cowed because of the threat of violence by these criminals”. He added “The poverty that will befall us for sitting at home will kill us even faster.

“We are losing over N10bn every Monday that we sit at home. Enough is enough. This foolishness must end and it must end now. We cannot marginalize ourselves and still complain of marginalization.

“So, we must say no to sit-at-home because what it means is that we are destroying our employment, our economy, and our GDP. We must erase it from our memories. We should see it as our shameful past, which we do not want to remember. We must put it behind us and forge ahead, ensuring that we work every working day of the week”, he urged the Enugu people.

Acting Director General of the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Mr Uche Mba, had however, stated that beyond the estimated figure, “confirmed reports from selected hotels in the region show that they lose over 80 percent of their bookings on any sit at home day”, adding that, “we are aware that schools manage to rush through their calendar”.

Lamenting the development further, he added: “Small traders that depend on their daily sales to earn a living most times end up borrowing to eat on sit-at-home days.

The government’s internally generated revenue is adversely affected as the government cannot get funds from motor parks, markets, tricycle riders, and miners to pay daily taxes/levies to the government.

“The implications of the sit-at-home in the southeast are a loss of both foreign and local investments/businesses. Take for instance; business persons in Onitsha are now moving their businesses to Asaba which is just a few minutes away from Onitsha.

It might be difficult to get those businesses back to Onitsha again, let alone southeast. This by implication has led to increased levels of unemployment in the zone which can lead to an increase in the crime rate”.

The President, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (ONNICMA), Mr. Stanley Anyafudu told The Guardian that “millions are lost each Monday there is sit-at-home”, stressing that the Chamber was daily losing members to neighbouring states.

“I cannot easily put a figure to what we lose on Mondays but you can always know about that when you come to Onitsha on a normal day and see the volume of business going on in the city.

“I can tell you that the loss of revenue is affecting even the various governments in the region in their plans. You can only notice this by the level of development going on in the states. A situation where no state can talk about any capital project any longer is disturbing; a situation where there are no more investments in the states is something that should worry any right-thinking fellow.

“I want to tell you that the way it is unless something drastic is done, you could wake up one day and discover that there is nothing like the southeast region any longer.

“We are fast losing everything. As a Chamber of Commerce, the kind of investments leaving Onitsha is not the type that we can recover easily. These people move to areas like Asaba, Cross River and even Rivers because there is a stable environment.

“One thing that has happened since we started talking about sit-at-home is the fact that we have succeeded in breeding insecurity.

“Our young men and women hide under the guise of Biafra to unleash terror, and kill among all manner of things that could make life unbearable. We have attained a level where they now waylay people in their homes and dispossess them.

“There are no jobs to fall back on by the youths graduating from the higher institutions and life is becoming increasingly difficult. So, they are on the street looking for guns to rob and kidnap targets.

“I think the point has been made even by the court for the release of the leader of the IPOB, Kanu. But we cannot continue to keep our zone unsafe because the federal government is not listening.

“We are beginning to lose everything we are known for. The farmlands are not safe so we cannot even plan on how to use the farm produce to feed our people. So, it is not a good story and we should retrace our steps”, he stated.

Last month, the Senator representing Anambra South, Ifeanyi Ubah moved to end the Monday sit-at-home when he addressed over 2000 Vigilante operatives from four quarters of Nnewi comprising Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim, and Nnewi-Ichi.

Ubah who had armed the Vigilante with security gadgets he procured, urged them to move into action to protect the people and their businesses to enable them to move out and do their businesses freely on Mondays.

A Public Affairs Analyst, Jerry Nwankwo, told The Guardian that overcoming the insecurity posed by the incessant sit-at-home in the zone required the collective effort of all and sundry.

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Mr Priceless
A young person with a passion for success and excellence to develop a professional career that encourages empowerment in the overall development of a person which is achieved through hard work. A Journalist with facts and a difference; standing by the truth all the time with interests in Science & Technology, Health, Celebrities' Lifestyle, Crimes, Education and Career Improvement.

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