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According to a report by Ripples Nigeria, the sit-at-home directive observed on Tuesday by pro-Biafra agitators to mark 50 years of the Nigerian civil war recorded a huge success as major towns in the South East and parts of South South regions were shut down.
Banks, markets and other business activities came to a halt, with the business community bearing an estimated loss of N6.2 billion in un-executed transactions as businesses and other revenue offices were shut.
Both the organisers of the one-day order and the security agencies said there were no skirmishes during the action, apart from the fact that most streets and shops were deserted.
The N6.2 billion, according to business analysts, is based on national data that Nigeria loses about N46 billion on each holiday it observes, and the regions which took part in the sit-at-home exercise, even as they contend, that the actual losses may be far more.
According to them, with South East and South South being major business hubs of the country, any activity that makes it possible for a total closing down of all sectors, from the two regions can have a huge cost on the national economy.
An Onitsha-based importer, Mr. Peter Duruaku, said the Democracy Day holiday on Monday, which preceded the Tuesday sit-at-home order, added more losses to the business community in the regions.
“I was expecting delivery of my goods on Monday, May 29, but the holiday made it impossible. Then Tuesday’s order came, with both days now compelling me to cough out N250,000 as demurrage and related charges to the ship and warehouse,” he said.
Also, the action which led to banks and oil companies remaining closed throughout the day, for fear of possible violence for non-compliance to the sit-at-home directive made it impossible for any cash withdrawal.
But an ex banker, Mr Johnson Durojaiye, quoting some statistics, said with the Nigerian business community suffering billions of naira in costs from each holiday observed in the country, even when the informal sector is alive on most holidays, a total shut down of both the formal and informal sectors, as was done on Tuesday is bound to cost the economy more than has been estimated.
“In that regard, the volume of business transactions lost to the sit-at-home order in the affected regions, known for their business activities, can only be an issue for debate, but when National Office of Statistics comes out with the figure on the cost, many will be shocked,” he said.
According to Durojaiye, part of the ways of seeing Nigeria have robust economy is to strife to reduce the number of holidays and any occasion like the pro-Biafran group’s order that can make shutting down of all business houses possible.
But to the leaders of the groups, there is no sacrifice that is too much to pay for an oppressed people to be free.