THE EFFECT OF END SARS PROTEST ON SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs) IN LAGOS STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
A protest is practically a demonstration by the public to portray their expression of objection or disapproval towards an idea or action in a polity. This demonstration can take different forms but the apex of it is taking to the street by the populace to publicly express their grievances to the government.
The EndSARS campaign movement dates back to 2017, where Nigerian youths used the hashtag to share their experiences on violence and assault perpetrated by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). However, the movement only revived in early October, 2020 after a video emerged of police officers thought to be members of the SARS unit, allegedly killing an unarmed young man. This prompted Nigerian youths to troop to Twitter, calling on the Federal Government for police reform with the hashtag, #EndSARS, #Endpolicebrutality, and many more. The hashtag trended continuously on Twitter as Nigerian youths aired their pain and experiences online.
A viral message broadcast on social media suggested men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS had gunned down a Nigerian youth, snatched his car, and sped off with it. As the video spread on Social media, the hashtag #ENDSARS started to garner momentum as more young people demanded an end to the brutal police unit that has for years brutalized young Nigerians.
On the 4th of October, 2020, the Nigerian Police Force, through the Inspector General of Police, announced the ban of SARS members and other Tactical Squads from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties, stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc with immediate effect.
On 7th October 2020, youths in Lagos State set out for a three-day protest to call for the disbandment of theSpecial Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force, as part of the push for reforms in the police system to put an end to the extra-judicial activities of the agency. Youths were seen marching to the Force Headquarters at Ikeja, carrying placards with various inscriptions such as “Protect, not exploit”, “Nigeria police stop killing us,” amongst other printed messages (nairametrics.com). This was the start of a 14-day protest that eventually turned violent and hijacked by hoodlums and resulted to the destruction, vandalizing and looting of public and private properties and Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are non-subsidiary, independent firms/organizations which employ fewer numbers of employees. This number varies across countries. According to the European Union (EU), SMEs are categories of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million Euros. In Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria in its monetary policies circular No. 22 of 1988 defined SMEs as enterprises which have an annual turnover not exceeding Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000). For the sake of clarity, the National Policy on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has given a clear distinction of enterprises, based on employment and Assets. SMEs are organizations which can best be described through their capital, scope and cost of projects, annual turnover, financial strength and number of employees amongst other things. Such organizations must and can be registered under any part of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) in order to do business in Nigeria.
The small and medium scale enterprises sub sector of the economy holds the key to the nation’s quest for economic growth and development. Today, regardless of the level of growth and development the world over, countries continue to embark on viable policies and programs that would create and pave way for the sustainable development of their economies through SMEs development. Numerous studies have shown that small and medium scale enterprises act as a catalyst for growth and development of a national economy.
In recent decades, Nigeria has made it one of the nation’s prime objectives to expand its industrial base through creation, sustenance and growth of small and medium scale enterprises for attainment of economic growth. This has remained the focus of various administrations in Nigeria particularly during the present democratic dispensation. On the other hand, the decay of infrastructural facilities especially power, vandalization and looting has negatively affected the performance, growth and development of SMEs in Nigeria over the years.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the things that accompanies protest of group of people in any polity is the disruption of movement and businesses of people. For people to protest, there are many stimulants to it and one major of them all is for a change to something good and better outside the ill ones that the people have been subjected to. A protest is practically a demonstration by the public to portray their expression of objection or disapproval towards an idea or action in a polity. This demonstration can take different forms but the apex of it is taking to the street by the populace to publicly express their grievances to the government.
The ail treatment of the Nigerian Police Force Unit known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on the citizens of Nigeria and their brutality on youths stimulated the agitation of the youth crying out for the disbandment of SARS which has done no good to youths rather has brought about killings and kidnapping of youths, harassing youths publicly by looking into their phones, checking at the type of car they are driving, the quality of clothes they wear, accessing their emails, facebook pages and whatsapp and profiling them to see whether they are fraudsters or not and as well stealing from them.
The discontent of the youths to the brutality of the SARS metamorphosed into the EndSARS protests in Lagos State which was a peaceful campaign calling on the government to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit and as well see to the reforming of the police force. The protest spread like wild fire to other states in Nigeria. It started as a peaceful demonstration by thousands of youths but later turned into chaos after the protests were hijacked by hoodlums and led to mob attacks on security personnel, killings of protesters, vandalizing and looting of public and private properties and shops.
At exactly 11:49am on Tuesday, 20th October 2020, the Lagos State Government announced the imposition of a 24-hours curfew in all parts of the state to curtail the destruction of properties by hoodlums in the name of EndSARS protest in the state. Small and Medium Enterprises were vandalized and looted during the EndSARS protests. This has led to loss of valuable resources and properties belonging to the victims of the looted shops. The blocking of roads by protesters and curfew declared by the state government of Lagos resulted to restriction of movement and has contributed to reduction on level of demand and supply in businesses and high transportation fare.
For this cause, this study seeks to investigate into the effect of the EndSARS protest on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Lagos State.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate into the causes of the EndSARS protest in Lagos State and to find out if the EndSARS protest has any negative effect on Small and Medium Enterprises in Lagos State.
1.4 Research Question
The following questions guide this research:
What are the causes of EndSARS protest in Lagos State?
What are the negative effect of EndSARS protest in Lagos State?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following hypothesis was formulated for this study:
H0: The EndSARS protest does not have any negative effect on Small and Medium Enterprises.
HA: The EndSARS protest has negative effect on Small and Medium Enterprises.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be of benefit to the general public, business owners and government to realize the menace the EndSARS protest has caused to Small and Medium Enterprises and the economy. It will also bring to the notice of the government and policy makers the need to hearken to the plea of the protesters and put things right in the country. This study will also serve as a benchmark to researchers and students who may desire to carry out further research on this or related topic.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study focus mainly on the effect of EndSARS protest on Small and Medium Enterprises in Lagos State. The causes of the EndSARS protest and its negative effects on Small and Medium Enterprises in Lagos State will be examined. This study is limited to some selected SMEs owners in Lagos State.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
Time, funds and availability of materials on this research domain and validating of respondents’ responses to interviews and questionnaires were the major constraints the researcher encountered at the course of this study.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Protest: A statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.
SARS: Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of Nigerian police force established to deal with crimes associated with robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms.
EndSARS: A social movement and series of mass protests calling on the disbanding of the SARS and against police brutality in Nigeria.
SMEs: Small and Medium Enterprises are business that maintain revenues, assets or a number of employees below a certain limit.
Effect: A change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.
Disruption: Disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity or process.
Destruction: The action or process of causing so much damage to something.
Looting: The act of stealing goods from a place typically during a war or riot.
Vandalize: To deliberately destroy or damage public or private property.