*Losses will be in trillions – LCCI
*Possible staff layoff – Manufacturers
By Yinka Kolawole & Naomi Uzor
As the lockdown directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to curb the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic commenced in Lagos State and Abuja Tuesday, members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) agreed that the action is a necessary sacrifice for all Nigerians. They however expressed concerns that it can lead to job losses among other possible negative impact on the overall economy.
Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf stated: “This is a complete shutdown of the economy and business. Losses will be in trillions of naira. It’s a sacrifice we have to make. We hope that the dark clouds of the pandemic will soon give way to a new dawn. It is noteworthy that government is giving thoughts to an economic and business continuity plan. There are useful lessons to learn from this experience.
President, National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Prince Degun Agboade said: “The shutdown is inevitable, no sane person will not be against it, it is the right thing to do now to curb the spread of the virus.
“In doing that we should be mindful about the curfew. Take, for instance, am in the pharmaceutical industry and we are still working, but it is difficult for the workers to come to work because most of them could not get vehicle to work. The banks are closed; none of the banks is open.
“In executing the curfew, a lot of things should be fine-tuned. The economic implication is clear, the world is at a recession and we have not seen the end. Most of our members were not prepared for this and so it is affecting them, the economic implications are huge, it is at a standstill and it will heighten the recession. We cannot blame anybody for that, it is beyond our control, and we need extraordinary efforts to make an extraordinary impact.
“We cannot import drugs now; we need to produce more drugs so there is a need to fine-tune the aspect of the curfew. Hopefully, after the first 14 days, we will all bounce back to the hustle and bustle of the day.”
Also reacting on the issue, Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Apapa Branch, Engr. Frank Onyebu stated: “The government really has no choice than to impose these restrictions. They are tough for everyone, but especially for the less privileged in our midst.
“Members of MAN have indeed been adversely affected by the stay-at-home order in that most of us have had to shut down operations. However, I am more concerned about the millions of people who depend on daily hustling for survival. These people do not have the resources to stock up food and other necessary items required to sustain them through the lockdown.
“All in all, I think we all have to make sacrifices because these are necessary paths we must take in order to overcome this evil that has befallen the world. We need to adhere to the government order and stay at home.
“It is, however, hoped that the lockdown will be quick and effective because the manufacturing sector, already beset with a multitude of challenges, cannot withstand a protracted closure. Manufacturers, who are already finding it difficult to pay salaries, would be left with no choice than to start laying off staff in other to survive.”