The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said the worsening security situation will trigger further inflationary pressure on food prices, thus exacerbating the poverty conditions in the country.
The chamber noted that kidnapping, herders-farmers conflict, ethno-religious violence, vandalism, armed robbery, banditry, arson and insurgency have become routine occurrences in Nigeria, which have impacted negatively on agriculture, investors’s confidence and government’s fiscal position and others.
The President of the chamber, Toki Mabogunje, who disclosed this in a statement, emphasised that the impact of the security crisis on the Nigerian economy remains profound and multi-dimensional, adding that it has crippled many private and public investments across the nation.
She said: “Several businesses and investors in affected areas are currently counting their losses. Many households have lost their means of livelihoods, while some have been displaced.”
According to Mabogunje, many farmlands across the country, although more pronounced in the North and Middle Belt, have been destroyed in the process, and the crisis has continued to disrupt agricultural activities in these areas.
She said: “These have severe implications for food production and food distribution from farms to markets. We recognise insecurity as a major driver of the persistent increase in food inflation in recent years.”
She said the crisis has hampered the movement of goods, services and persons across the country, with implications for agriculture, agro-allied services, trade and commerce, especially in affected areas such transportation and logistics sector, hospitality and allied investments, education, construction and real estate, which have been severely impacted by the crisis.
Mabogunje stressed that the crisis projects the Nigerian economy as an unsafe investment destination and, if unaddressed, would thwart government’s efforts in encouraging private investment inflow into the economy at a time the economy is in dire need of massive investments to bolster growth recovery, create jobs and alleviate poverty.
She said: “We note that investors’ confidence had been weak before the COVID-19 outbreak, and many investors still see the Nigerian market as a risky venture despite the oil price recovery, vaccination dissemination and growth recovery. We believe confidence will remain weak in the short-term if the situation does not abate.”
The chamber noted that government’s fiscal position has been drastically impacted as its policymakers incur unplanned (unbudgeted) security-related expenditure at the detriment of infrastructural development expenditure, which could worsen 2021 actual fiscal deficit levels amid fragility in revenue growth from oil and non-oil sources.
The LCCI boss, therefore noted that it was important to have this challenge urgently resolved so that the pervasive fear and anxiety inflicted by the fear of insecurity can come to end.
She said: “Decentralisation of the security eco-system would help stem the rising tide as it enables other levels of government take key security-related decisions and initiatives within their domain.
“The LCCI enjoins the executive arm of government to liaise with the legislative arm to take security out of the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution and include it in the concurrent list. The sub nationals need to play more active roles in the restoration of peace in or country through the creation of a security machinery and architecture that would be controlled by them, subject of course to certain guidelines, especially regarding the rules of engagement.
“There is a need to ensure a concrete and sustainable means of reducing youth unemployment rate through youth employment schemes and programmes. There is a strong correlation between unemployment and criminality.”