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Many Nigerians Are At Risk, Here’s Why

“Looting or unlawful taking of goods and destruction of properties belonging to private individuals and the government by citizens is a criminal act under the Nigerian Criminal Law, despite the good reasons for doing so as two wrongs cannot make a right” – Assistant Professor of Law, American University of Nigeria, Dr Jennifer H Mike.

Whether the law supports the act of looting and destruction of properties belonging to private individuals and government, by citizens or not, the impact of the #ENDSARS peaceful protest shrouded with violence, looting and arson after being allegedly hijacked by hoodlums, is expected to have a great effect on Nigerians resulting to new challenges.

Economic Costs And Losses

Analysts have said that the counting of economic cost and losses is currently on and that no matter how much counting is done, the full loss value would never be known as the echo would continue to be felt months, if not years, afterwards. These economic losses will affect the supply to meet the increasing demand of the people, following lootings, vandalism and arson of private and public properties and facilities.

“The monetary value of the loss incurred from the lootings and vandalism is very huge because some people have lost millions of naira, the lost in no doubt will affect their business, it is a great loss. In the next few months, these business owners will face challenges of renovations, restocking, access to capital, and access to loans. All these and many more are part of costs. Meanwhile, some will even face a more serious problem of paying back in addition to the losses because some of these businesses are stocking up on credit facilities or loans,” says Business Coach, Ijeoma Chidioke.

The speaker of House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila on October 25, said the estimated cost of fixing the damages done during the protest in Lagos stands at N1 Trillion. Meanwhile, Lagos State’s 2020 budget totals N920 Billion according to Nairametrics.

Job Displacement And Unemployment

As private and public business owners lost properties and commodities to lootings, vandalism and arson, unemployment may rise quickly when affected businesses return to business. This can result in a recession for some businesses as they face increased costs, increased pressure to service their debts resulting from looted or damaged properties and products according to Human Resource Manager, John Alabi.

“Several attacks which later resolved to curfew across the country drove businesses back to their shell for about two weeks. The properties destroyed and looted will have a long-lasting effect on over 20 thousand Nigerians who have no business or place of work to return to. The arson on properties will leave many people from the transport sector, port sector, self-employed and civil services jobless either from displacement or the business dying as no finance to resuscitate the damages and costs incurred. The unemployment rate will rise definitely, and this will have a lasting effect on Nigerians.”

The current report by NBS on Labor force statistics – volume I, the unemployment rate increased from 18.8% in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1% in the third quarter of 2018 and 9.9million 0r 0.9% of the 9.7 million that were unemployed and doing nothing at all, reported they were unemployed and did nothing at all because they were previously employed but lost their jobs at some point in the past.

Percentage increase in the Unemployment rate from Q2 of 2017 to Q3 of 2018 Source: National Bureau Of Statistics

Transportation And Road Usage

The Transport Fare Watch report for September 2020 by NBS presented that the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey within the city increased by 7.92% month-on-month and by 63.88% year-on-year to N309.73 in September 2020 from N286.99 in August 2020. While the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity increased by 0.36% month-on-month and by 24.30% year-on-year to N2,022.70 in September 2020 from N2,015.50 in August 2020.

States with highest bus journey fare intercity were Abuja FCT (N4,315.22), Lagos (N3,073.25) and Sokoto (N3,000.00) while States with lowest bus journey fare within city were Kwara (N223.45), Benue (N274.64) and Ondo (N291.07).

Similarly, the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes single journey increased by 20.60% year-on-year to N36,884.59 in September 2020 from N38,659.86 in August 2020. States with highest air fare were Lagos (N39,750.00), Rivers (N39,520.00), Anambra (N38,950.00) while States with the lowest airfare were Akwa Ibom (N32,500.00), Sokoto (N33,700.00), and Benue (N35,000.00).

An agriculturist and motorist, G. O. Onyenachor said “The burning of tyres, cooking of food by making fire with woods and charcoals on the road will definitely have an impact on the road. In 3-6 months, virtually all roads will go bad at the spots where fires were made and tyres burnt. These bad roads will cause a lot of damage to vehicles, lead to erosions, accidents; transportation cost will rise which will have effects on the market structure, cost of commodities. There would be price hikes due to the loss of goods, commodities. The government will start budgeting millions of naira for the reconstruction project. The citizens will have to face all these challenges.”

Health And Safety

Nigeria has only 250 psychiatrists, according to the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria. This means that approximately one psychiatrist provides mental health services to 800,000 Nigerians. A mental health survey in Nigeria by EpiAFRIC and Africa Polling Institute In 2019 found that most people know little about mental health issues or how to help.

Following the series of violent attacks resulting to loss of lives and properties during the protest, people were exposed to negative emotions and stress which can be disadvantageous to their health; the effects all take their toll on mental health and wellbeing as many Nigerians suffered from panic attacks or emotional breakdowns.

Child Safety Advocate, Health and Safety Professional, Tolulope Akingbade, explained that: “A lot of people were affected, most especially from gory contents across social media and this got many people feeling scared, drained and frightened about the state of the country as at then. Some of those who went for physical protests suffered a form of injury or the other. A lot of people are still dealing with how to recover from their losses and the thought of business or property destruction and losing a loved one is usually a sad experience.”

Hunger, Poverty And Malnutrition

For many Nigerians who depend on daily sales, minimum wage or related sources, whose source of income has been affected in the recent protest, are likely to face hunger, poverty and malnutrition following the decline in purchasing power due to inability to meet the cost of demand.

According to the NDIC, 98% of Nigerians have less than ₦500,000 in their accounts yet spend nearly 60% of their earnings on food purchases, the highest in the world, compared to Americans, who spend just 6.4% and Britons who spend 8.2% according to data from Euromonitor cited by News Digest. This means that with the current ₦30,000 monthly minimum wage-earning, Nigerians have to spend more on food. 

 “With the look of things, I’m currently in Lagos, raw foods are on the high side, talk about rice,1 derica now cost N650 per derica. Imagine people who earn N1500 or less as their daily wage and those who rely on daily sales and wages who would work throughout the month nonstop, with other expenses showing up. What is their fate? Imagine a family with two or more kids,” says Oyebode Victoria, a resident of Lagos State.

Food security in so many regions is largely due to some inherent factors such as violent conflicts and instability, environmental factors, development and governance deficits, economic shocks, amongst others according to a report available at Relief Web.

Bottom Line

The aftermath of the lootings, vandalism and arson of public and private properties and facilities by hoodlums will have its toll on many Nigerians resulting in new challenges. A lot of people may still deal with how to recover from their losses and the thought of business or property destruction and the sad experience of losing a loved one.

Nigerians who depend on daily sales or minimum wage will have to battle economic cost and losses, hunger, poverty and malnutrition following the decline in purchasing power due to inability to meet the cost of demand. Many private and public businesses will suffer financial costs, losses and debt, facing challenges of renovations, restocking, access to capital, and access to loans. The government will start budgeting for reconstruction projects.

Likewise, many others are at risk of job displacement. The number of unemployed workers across industries will spike up as businesses may begin to lay off workers in order to cut costs. Activities on the road which includes burning of tyres, cooking of food with woods and charcoals will destroy and reduce the life span of the road leading to bad roads, accidents, and hike in transportation.

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