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‘The second wave of Covid-19 in Nigeria could wreak more havoc than the first’

Year 2020 was one hell of a year. The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, hit the world dangerously, collapsing the economy of many countries. It wreaked enormous havoc on individuals, companies and businesses. Across the globe, several thousands of people have died and are still dying; hundreds of thousands infected by the virus, while some have survived deaths to tell their stories. In this interview, Daniel Nwabugwu, president-general, Association of Used Clothes Dealers of Nigeria, spoke with EMMANUEL UDOM on the likely implication of the second wave of the pandemic on businesses and what the Muhammadu Buhari administration should do to assist Nigerians at this point in time. Excerpts:

Last year was hellish- Covid-19, #EndSARS and insecurity in Nigeria. What is your take here?

Well, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the entire world and therefore, was not limited to Nigeria alone. For individuals, groups, government, companies and business outfits, it was not funny, as millions of people across the globe have died and are still dying; millions have also been infected, while other many infected persons have also survived to tell their stories. Truth is that small, medium enterprises have been most affected, and the economy of nations is almost collapsing every day, in both developing and developed countries of the world. It is not funny.

Specifically, how has the outbreak of the virus, affected the business of your members in various markets, shops, streets and stalls across the federation?

Before the advent of Covid-19 in Nigeria, most of our members used to earn between N3000 and N4000 as net profit from their daily sales. But, with the lockdown imposed from March to about September, last year, all over the world and of course, Nigeria inclusive, coupled with the closure of our borders, our members were reduced to nothing. It is now survival of the fittest. Imposing another lockdown in the name of the second wave of the virus, could wreak a huge havoc on Nigeria, if not well managed. Remember, we were forced to stay at home during the first wave of the virus last year and small business owners, who make a living from daily runs suffered the hardest. We were hungry, angry and frustrated.

But, the Federal Government tried on interventions and palliatives?

Yes, the government tried on interventions and palliatives, but in reality, it was limited. It was embroiled in politics, hijacked and therefore largely unsuccessful. Ask some ordinary citizens whether they received the palliatives and you will get the real message. As a businessman, I expected the government to take full charge of the issues on ground and ensure that the interventions and palliatives got to the masses and small business owners nationwide.

With the second wave of Covid-19, what will you advise the Federal Government to do at this point in time?

The Federal Government closed the borders to checkmate smuggling and encourage the local farmers. But, the farmers in Nigeria are not producing enough for local consumption, not to talk about exportation. So, my advice to government is to ensure that our local farmers compete with farmers from other countries, while the ban placed on some imported commodities like rice, frozen turkeys, etc should be lifted. This will ensure that food security is sustained at these dangerous times.

A hungry man is an angry man and food security will tame insecurity, joblessness, protests, and other forms of social vices. This is why some countries in West Africa like Ghana Togo, Cameroun, and Benin are peaceful simply because they are not hungry, frustrated and angry.

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