Sit-at-home: How South-East Nigeria lost N5.4trn in 15 months

The South-East Nigeria’s micro businesses wasted 71 Mondays between August 9, 2021 and December 19, 2022, losing N5.375 trillion ($12.215 billion) in the process.

This is according to an investigation funded by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).  

The losses arose from Monday sit-at-home exercises being implemented in the region. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a self-proclaimed freedom movement, began the implementation of Monday sit-at-home exercise on July 30, 2021 but backtracked on January 12, 2022.

However, the sit-at-home exercise seems to have come to stay every Monday, leading to revenue losses and disappearance of investor confidence in the region.

According to the report, the region’s micro businesses lose N4.618 trillion ($10.495 billion) annually to the sit-at-home exercise.

One hundred and ten micro businesses were interviewed for the story over the period – 22 from each of the five states of the South-East Nigeria. Each of the businesses disclosed how much they made every Monday before the sit-at-home exercise began in the South-East. The results were extrapolated using the official data of the National Bureau of Statistics/ Small and Medium Enterprises Developnent Agency to calculate how much micro businesses in the region lose/ have lost.

The survey put Nigerian businesses into four categories: nano, micro, small and medium businesses.

The reporter concentrated on nano and micro businesses which make up 96.9 percent (38.413 million) of the 39.654 million MSMEs in Nigeria. In line with the survey, those interviewed by the reporter were businesses in trade, agriculture and minor services. The majority of them were in the informal (untaxed and unregulated) sector.

According to the SMEDAN/NBS report, there are 1.297 million micro/nano enterprises in Anambra State and 764, 844 in Abia State.

Enugu State is estimated to have 1.154 million micro/nano enterprises, while Ebonyi has 561,287 businesses in the category. Also, Imo State has 1.231 million micro/nano businesses.

Soludo reacts

Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, said that nobody had any reason to stay at home every Monday. Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Christian Aburime, Soludo said the Anambra State government would not succumb to the antics of non-state actors.

“Those who are declaring sit-at-home do not have the powers to do so. It is the government that is constitutionally recognised to do that.
Moreover, IPOB, who started this whole thing, has distanced itself from it.

“The people have come out publicly to declare that they are not the ones ordering sit-at-home any more. And what that means is that those who are declaring sit-at-home now are mere criminals who are looking for ways to cause chaos and disharmony.”

Market leaders lament losses

President, Leather Product Manufacturers Association (LEPMAS), which covers Ariaria and shoemakers in Aba, Mazi Okechukwu Williams, said it was important to dialogue with agitators.
“The situation is affecting us in terms of revenue and productivity. The solution is for the Federal Government to dialogue with agitators. Also, there is a need to release Nnamdi Kanu, as the court has ordered,” he suggested.

President of Amalgamated Markets and Traders Association in Imo State, Chief Ezeanoche Emmanuel, pleaded with the perpetrators to call off the sit–at-home exercise.
“This is because the order has brought economic activities in the entire South-East to their knees. So we can only plead with them to end it,” he said.

Police dismiss exercise

Anambra State police spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said he did not have information that there were sit-at- home exercises on Mondays in the state.
“I don’t have such information. I go to work every day,” he replied, when asked why the police had failed to quash the sit-at-home
order.

Ebonyi State police spokesperson, SP Chris Anyanwu, said there was no sit-at- home exercise in the state.
“There has never been any sit-at-home observed here. There is no sit-at-home now, except at the earlier period. We have been maintaining it. We do our routine show of force to make the assurance double sure in case there is any attack.”

The long-form version of this story was published by The ICIR, and republished by Dataphyte

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