Sit-at-home: South-East micro businesses lost estimated N4.6trn in 52 weeks – investigation

MICRO businesses in Nigeria’s Southeastern states lost an average of N4.618 trillion ($10.495 billion) in one year to the sit-at-home order that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) imposed on the region, an ICIR investigation has shown.

The southeastern states comprise Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia.

The enforcement of the sit-at-home order every Monday was an approach IPOB adopted to protest the Federal government’s continuous detention of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.


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By the investigation, the total estimated revenues of micro-businesses in the five Southeastern states were summed up and multiplied by 52 to arrive at the N4.618 trillion.

The 52 weeks represented the number of the sit-at-home Mondays in a year.

The investigation relied on figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s data agency, and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) 2021 survey reports.

The survey classified Nigerian businesses into four categories: nano, micro, small and medium enterprises.

The ICIR investigation concentrated on nano and micro businesses, which made up 96.9 per cent (38.413 million) of the 39.654 million MSMEs in Nigeria. In line with the survey, those interviewed were businesses in trade, agriculture and minor services. The majority of those interviewed were in the informal (untaxed and unregulated) sector.

According to the SMEDAN/NBS report, there were 1.297 million micro/nano enterprises in Anambra State and 764, 844 in Abia State.

Enugu State was estimated to have 1.154 million micro/nano enterprises, while Ebonyi had 561,287 businesses in the category. Also, Imo State had 1.231 million micro/nano businesses.

From the computations, the Southeast lost an estimated N75.704 billion every Monday on nano and micro businesses. This was disaggregated as follows: Anambra, N38.140b billion, Enugu N9.334 billion, Imo N13.739 billion, Ebonyi N4.079 billion, and Abia N10.412 billion.

The loss sum did not, however, represent the entire economic cost of the sit-at-home order, as the report focused only on the price paid by the smallest businesses for sitting at home, while their counterparts in other regions were busy.

Few observed exceptions

The investigation observed that not all businesses were shut down every Monday in the region.



    In Ebonyi State, many businesses were open on Mondays, over the period the investigation covered.

    Even in the other four states in the region, some nano and micro businesses operated on Mondays, but were always on the lookout for the IPOB enforcers, who disrupted such trading.

    Whenever such disruptions happened, the traders would scamper for safety, leaving their wares – if they were unable to quickly save them – to the caprices of the enforcers.

    For example, on December 14, 2022, gunmen, enforcing the sit-at-home order, attacked businesses in Imo and Ebonyi states.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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