NIGERIA’S economy has lost about N700bn ($1.82bn) over the last 12 days of the #EndSars protests as the nationwide demonstrations led to a significant shutdown of economic activity according to figures just published by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Over the last two weeks, Nigerian youth have been out demonstrating, protesting against the extra-judicial killings of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) police unit. So popular have the protests been that the numbers participating have increased on a daily basis, forcing the government to scrap Sars and promise to investigate the unlawful killings.
Today, the protests have taken on a new dimension, as hoodlums have joined in and there have been fierce exchanges between them and the security forces. Police stations have been burnt down in Lagos, prisoners have been set free in Benin and the police have opened fire on demonstrators, resulting in several deaths.
Toki Mabogunje, the LCCI president, expressed concern about the negative impact of the #EndSARS demonstrations on business activities across the country. However, she noted that the #EndSARS demonstrations had been impactful and profound, adding that it had the power of the people and the potency of the energy of the youth to bring about change.
Mrs Mabogunje said: “The LCCI appreciates the value of citizens’ engagement and the demand for accountability which the EndSARS protest essentially represents. These are in consonance with democratic norms and they also form vital ingredients for good governance.
“However, over the past 12 days, economic activities have been crippled in most parts of the country and has been particularly profound in the urban areas. The Nigerian economy has suffered an estimated ₦700bn loss over the past 12 days.”
She added that the protests have achieved some significant outcomes and has reawakened the need to reform the shortcomings in Nigeria’s political governance. Mrs Mabogunje recommended that the protesters dialogue with the government, adding that this is necessary to reduce the massive disruptions, blockades and barricades around major cities and interstate highways.
“These actions have been at great cost to the economy and the welfare of Nigerian citizens. It should be noted that our economy is still reeling from the shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and struggling to recover from its devastating effects,” she added.
Mrs Mabogunje advised President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently grant audience to the leadership of the #EndSARS campaign to deliberate on the way forward and to agree on an action plan for the delivery of agreed outcomes. She urged the government to commit to rapid improvement in governance quality and accountability in the police and public sector.