By Henry Omoregie
People have lost jobs and businesses have been downed by the Covid19 pandemic. That is obviously a notorious fact. Any attempt to wish that truism away will only assuage doubting minds and their feelings, giving them a false sense of Eldorado.
It will be tantamount to economic suicide for Nigerian businesses and hundreds of other peoples enterprises around the world to think that when their economies are fully reopened, it will be ‘business as usual’. Far from it. People will have no choice than living within their means. Even crime will be affected. Criminal proceeds will be reduced because the victims means of livelihood have been cut down drastically by the various lock-down measures taken to manage the devastating effects of Covid19 whether they believe the virus
exists or not.
The fish seller should not expect regular sales like was obtainable pre-Covid19. Carmakers in the United Kingdom have already reported one of the lowest sales in a century in the first 2 quarters of year 2020.
Demand for crude oil was one of the first hit. Millions of industries needing crude oil for production activities already cancelled further supplies from their delivering countries rich in crude oil. This has occasioned a supply glut and a short-lived price war that has plummeted the oil prices to decades lows.
What that means is that countries like Nigeria whose GNP is fueled by crude oil sales will be badly hit too. That will translate to poor funding for development projects or weak implementation of ongoing ones which milestone payments are yet unpaid to contractors.
The air travel business is bracing for a reduced activity season due to potential low patronage.
Virtual meetings via zoom, Skype and other e-presence technologies. All these are put in place by the
authorities to prevent crowding of people and maintain social distancing until they determine when people can be free to mingle en mass.
The interstate transportation business by road is already seriously hit. Benin City, the midway between the South East and the South West has had about 90% of its interstate shuttle buses parked up and will need plenty of maintenance activities to ensure the vehicles are roadworthy Post-Covid19 lock-down.
Most of those commuters who travel by road have been observing lock-down procedures and cannot move away from their current locations. When the situation improves, the patronage is expected to be gradualized with number of passengers in buses drastically reduced, thereby lowering expected revenue. This will lead to more chauffeurs or drivers losing their jobs because the transportation
companies will not be paying for idling away due to reduced patronage.
Millions of other businesses have been, and will be, affected negatively. The only way to mitigate the effects of the not-so-rosy scenes of the economy beckoning on businesses, is for everyone to adjust their expenses and live within what they get as wages, incomes or sales.
Those whose services are essential must endeavor to jettison the temptations for profiteering from the predicament of the people. Demand will mostly be for food and agricultural produce, pharmaceuticals,potable water, mobile phones services and power supply services. There will also be high demand for maintenance services including lots of artisanal activities. These services must be supported by the authorities who should provide some sort of subsidy or palliatives that can protect the consumer from possible Shylocking.
Farmers should be provided with motorable access roads and delivery trucks subsidized by the authorities. Transportation companies should be provided some palliatives to ensure not much jobs are lost as expected.
This is not the period to indulge in frivolous expenses by both the leaders and the led.This is the season to retrace steps and brace up for economic uncertainty and potential social security incidents.
Debts must be reduced to avoid a deeper debt trap peonage. No new construction projects not regarded as very important, must be embarked upon. This is to avoid a long term destruction of the economy.