Home Business Lagos to review lockdown after 7 days, to give more access to businesses

Lagos to review lockdown after 7 days, to give more access to businesses

by Business News Report

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu Lagos state Governor has promised the organised private sector to consider a review of the lock-down situation after 7 days. The promise was made at a virtual meeting between the state government and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association. While the state government team was led by the governor, NECA team was led by its Director General Dr. Timothy Olawale. The meeting had in attendance 28 MD/CEOs of Organised Businesses/ Companies in Nigeria and was coordinated by the Director-General of NECA, Dr. Timothy Olawale, under the umbrella of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA). The Government team was led by His Excellency, Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, supported by the Commissioner of Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo.

The meeting which was virtual saw the Governor saying that strategic relaxation of the lock-down may be implemented. However, more access will be given to businesses as more lock-down relaxations are instituted he was quoted as saying. Those who participated in the virtual meeting said that it was resolved that the Governor should speak to the CBN Governor to address the issues of charges on cash deposits and cheque clearing, especially during the lockdown period and for banks to scale up their skeletal services to the banking public. It was learnt that the meeting also resolved that more assistance will be given to organisations involved in packaging to enable them support other essential sectors. The Governor it was further learnt is to speak to the Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority NPA with the view of fast-tracking clearance of essential raw materials from the Nigeria ports. 

The Governor equally promised to speak to his colleagues in the Governor’s Forum to facilitate ease of access for businesses in their States. The private sector operators asked that there is need for banks to scale up / increase operation scope as most of the Banks have been offering skeletal services and this hinders smooth business operations. Also, with the volume of cash transactions that is on-going, it will be necessary for the Governor to speak to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend the charges on cash deposit and also relax the embargo on cheque clearance. It was learnt that companies in need of packaging materials, especially pharmaceutical, are facing paucity of materials as all the companies producing the packaging materials are not allowed to operate. The Business CEOs told the Lagos State government that it is important for Customs to give priority to clearing of foods raw materials, drugs, pharmaceuticals as this is presently not the case. 

The CEOs alleged that most of the Police check-points are now extortion points. There have been reports of frustration of company trucks and delivery vans by the Police, even when necessary means of identification are provided and said there is urgent need to stop the excesses of the Police. They also told the governor of the need to assist wholesalers to take their products from warehouses in closed markets to the retail outlets. Other issues raised are: worsening security situation and risk of escalated civil disturbance; elevates risk to business, properties and Staff; risks of attacks on branded company trucks by hoodlums in highly populated areas and the need to protect staff and company properties; the inability of Suppliers to transport supplies to Shopping Malls and Retail outlets remain a big concern, in view of the worsening security situation; publicity of the 28 School to Markets Initiative;  need for Government to step up publicity of the 28 emergency markets set up in different schools as patronage has been low in those markets; need for the Governor to assist in reaching out to other State Governments on lockdown to ensure free movement of essential goods and provision of security for organisations.

According to the report of the virtual meeting, the Governor in his response to the request made by the CEOs said that the pocket of crisis is not unexpected and that he had informed all critical stakeholders in Government on the need to be proactive. He said that the Agege crisis was more of territorial war between rival clans and cults.He said that from today, there will be additional deployment/presence and patrol (24/7) of Mobile policemen, the Military and paramilitary personnel in Lagos State and that the security architecture is being led by an AIG. He told the CEOs that the security agents have been briefed to act professionally and responsibly. Businesses were encouraged to be more security conscious and take pro-active steps to protect their staff and properties.

The Governor Businessnewsreport gathered said “there is on-going engagement with over 200 local food vendors in Lagos to provide at least one meal a day to people in densely populated neighbourhoods. Government has identified religious and political leaders in all LGAs and LCDA. They will serve as distribution points for bulk food stuff. This is to decentralise the food distribution activities of the LASG and also complement the efforts. Data collection is ongoing using the TELCOS and other means with the view of facilitating cash-transfers to youths and residents of Lagos State. Free treatment of pregnant women at all State hospitals is on-going. Interest waiver for 3 months for all SMEs and MSMEs under the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. All arrested and impounded vehicles during the period of the lockdown will be released at the end of the lock-down without payment of any penalty / free of charge. Day-to-day food delivery to the most vulnerable and elderly is still on-going”.

The Governor according to those who attended the virtual meeting sought assurance from the Business community that: Supply and distribution of essential goods and products will continue; businesses were urged to ensure stability of prices during this critical period and post covid-19 period as the purchasing power of the masses would likely be weak / adversely impacted by the scourge; businesses should as much as possible also endeavour to ensure Job security is guaranteed”. “The Governor will be open to further collaboration and suggestions(in writing) from organised businesses on how to drive growth and development in Lagos State. The Government has set up Post-Covid 19 Economic Stimulus Agenda with the view of fast-tracking economic recovery. The Governor will invite organised businesses to a Breakfast or Lunch session within one month after the Covid 19 pandemic to discuss and review how to strengthen the collaboration. He thanked the management of Nigerian Breweries for making available the ICT infrastructure to drive the meeting.

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