Angry mob turn on private businesses as Nigeria’s socio-economic crises is laid bare 

Private businesses were targeted by angry mobs protesting the brutal killings of peaceful #End-SARS protesters by the Nigerian military, in what is an indication of the country’s socio-economic crises.

Retail chain, SPAR, said its Lekki store was vandalized and looted yesterday while more than 20 stores within Circle Mall at Jakande, Lekki, were looted and set ablaze. Some of the stores include South African retailer, Shoprite, retail pharmacy chain, Health Plus and children clothing store, Ruff N Tumble.


                                              Image of vandalised Spar store 

                                     The Surulere store of cosmetics company, Zaron, was also vandalised. 


Several stores in a mall at Surulere which houses no less than 30 different stores, including cosmetics company, Zaron, were also plundered during the raids by angry mobs.

An official from the cosmetics store who did not want to be named said goods worth N5 million may have been carried away.

“I haven’t been there to see things for myself yet but the reports I have gotten are devastating,” the person said. “I heard the other stores in the mall were all attacked and items worth millions taken away,” the person said.

Asked if there was an insurance cover for the store, the person said “ I am not sure there’s an insurance cover for that particular store.”

Insurance companies are likely to face huge claims from stores with insurance covers.

                                                  Stores at a mall in Surulere were all plundered 

Several other stores in other parts of the Lekki and Surulere suburbs were also attacked with credible videos showing tens of people carting away with food items, clothes and electronics obtained from the stores even as they were being ravaged by fire.

It’s not the first time that mobs are organizing brainless attacks on private businesses in the name of protests. During the xenophobic attacks in South Africa where some Nigerians were killed, private businesses in Nigeria were targeted.

What started as attacks on businesses in Nigeria with South African affiliations, even though they were run by and employed Nigerians, soon escalated to attacks on Nigerian-owned businesses.

The attack on private businesses at any given opportunity is a sign of the deep rooted socio-economic crises in Africa’s most populous nation where more than half of the population are poor, unemployment was at a decade-high of 27 percent as at the second quarter of 2020 and social welfare is practically non-existent.

The economy, faced with its second recession in five years, has not grown fast enough to create opportunities for a teeming population. While economic growth has averaged 1.8 percent in the last five years, the population has expanded at 2.6 percent each year.

The economy has contracted in per capita terms for five years straight with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting the trend could linger for another three years.

What’s worse is that Nigeria’s population is forecast to double to 400 million by 2050 by the United Nations. The country could also be home to half of the world’s poor people by then if urgent steps to boost economic growth and reduce poverty are not taken.

“The poor among us are frustrated and taking out their displeasure over bad governance on the middle class which is a shame given that they are barking at the wrong tree,” a Lagos-based entrepreneur said.

“Private businesses are the chief creators of jobs, targeting them only worsens the situation,” she said.

Given that insecurity is one of the biggest threats to private investment, the attacks on private businesses could hinder investments in a country where local and foreign investment are already drying up.

Nigeria received $1.29 billion in foreign investment in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, representing a decrease of 78.6% compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019, according to the latest Nigerian Capital Importation report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Reduced private investment would further worsen the unemployment and poverty situation in a country that has overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world.

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