#EndSARS: Nigeria yet to pick up from ruins of protest

Businesses are yet to recover and public infrastructure are still ruined after they were razed during nationwide #ENDSARS protests against the unpopular and now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) one year ago.

As youths took to the streets in Lagos and Abuja to mark the anniversary of the protest to demand an end to police brutality, small business owners are still reeling in pain. Lagos, the hotspot of the protests, is yet to rebuild police stations or replace transport infrastructure destroyed during the demonstrations.

Financial Derivatives Company, an advisory firm, estimates the economic cost of the #EndSARS protest disruption at N1.5 trillion, about 11.47 percent of the 2021 budget.

Lagos transportation suffered a setback with the burning of mass transit buses known as BRT, which are yet to be replaced.

According to Lagos State commissioner for information, Gbenga Omotosho, a total of 80 BRT vehicles were destroyed, made up of 23 big buses and 57 medium-size buses, noting that 57 of the 80 buses were at the Oyingbo Terminus.

He said while the big buses cost around $200,000 each, the medium-size buses cost around $100,000 each. With the exchange at the time of the incident, the 80 destroyed BRT buses were valued at N3.9 billion.

Small businesses, most of which are in Lagos, were not spared.

Read Also: EndSARS protests: How best to mitigate future losses

Almost one in three businesses in Lagos lost between N500,000 and N1 million while 14 percent lost between N150,000 and 500,000; 14 percent lost less than N150,000, according to a report by SBM Intelligence.

However, over 10,000 small businesses affected by last year’s #EndSARS protests have received a total of N939 million support from the Lagos State government.

The economic cost of the looting and destruction that engulfed Nigeria was a setback on its fragile economy, The protest coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, the effects of which Africa’s biggest economy is yet to recover from and thus compounding its economic woes.

The two-week long protest against police brutality was initially peaceful until hoodlums hijacked it and went on to loot and destroy properties running into billions.

At a virtual meeting with commissioners of police in the 36 states and FCT on October 30, 2020, the former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that 71 public warehouses and 248 privately owned stores were looted in the course of the protests in 13 states and the FCT.

The states were Lagos, Edo, Delta, Oyo, Kano, Plateau, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Imo, and Ekiti states, and the FCT.

This was obtained from statistics collated between October 11 and 27, 2020, after the #EndSARS protest spread across the country.

According to the police boss, the affected states recorded major violence leading to attacks on critical national security infrastructure and other corporate and private properties as well as injuries on civilians, the police and other security agents.

Adamu said 205 critical national security assets, corporate facilities and private property were attacked, burnt and vandalised.

In a recent BusinessDay’s inspection, several of the burnt police stations and other public infrastructure are still not fully built.

“There was a lot of destruction of public and private property and these cost a lot of money. We are talking of hundreds of millions of naira,” Muda Yusuf, former director-general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), told journalists two days ago.

“As I speak to you, many of the private sector investors that were affected are yet to recover from the shock and the setback caused by the destruction. There were also a lot of public properties that were destroyed, which also cost billions of naira,” Yusuf said.

Looting and vandalism occurred at several shopping malls in Lagos, including The Palms Mall, Circle Mall, Montaigne Mall, Lagos City Mall, the razing of the Lekki Toll Gate and many others.

Some state properties were also torched and destroyed in the state in the wake of the protest, such as the Nigeria Ports Authority, BRT Terminal, Oyingbo, with several buses set on fire.

Others are Television Continental (TVC), Ketu, VIO, FRSC Office, Ojodu, with FRSC branded cars and generators burnt, palace of Oba of Lagos, Sanwo Olu mother’s house, Surulere, three bank branches, Ajeromi Local Government secretariat, Lagos-Island Local Government secretariat, the Nation Newspapers building, among several others.

The government is yet to fix other ravaged properties amid rising debt.

Yusuf Othman, president, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Organisation (NARTO), recently complained that it was yet to receive compensation for losses incurred during last year’s protest as the organisation lost over N2 billion as trucks were burnt.

The Nigerian government will borrow N5.012 trillion to finance its budget deficit in 2022. The government proposed a N16.39 trillion budget for next year, which comes with a deficit of N6.258 trillion.

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