It is no more news that the Nigerian economy is officially in recession. What we do not know at this time is if we can get out of it anytime soon.
However, indications are that this is a far-fetched dream, as small and medium scale businesses (SME) which should be supported to drive the economy forward are being hindered at every front and most especially by the institution supposed to protect them, the Federal Government.
A real life scenario of this is the story on social media platform, Twitter, about what happened to a baker on Rumens Street, Ikoyi, Lagos yesterday. Just the previous day, he had paid the sum of N5million in rent to his landlord for occupying the area where the bakery was.
Barely 24 hours later, a special task force from the Lagos State Government swooped in and cleared the baker and staff, claiming the place had been marked for demolition. Within a few hours, the bakery was no more.
Given the sketchy details of the story, however, it would be wrong to blame the Lagos State Government for demolishing the structure. If it actually was an illegal structure and the owner had been given adequate warning, then the structure should be pulled down.
However, what merits attention from this story is the poor protection entrepreneurs get in this country. From setting up their businesses to sourcing for finances and expansion, the entrepreneur cannot hope for any aid. In this case, for example, there should be assistance, at the least in a legal sense, for the baker to seek recompense for the rent paid. And in the event that the landlord cannot immediately come up with the sum, there should be some kind of mechanism to ensure that it is not the baker that ultimately suffers.
This is not an isolated event. It was reported that importers of petrol have not been able to bring in as much as they used to. Why? Due to delayed approval for payment by the FG, they lost huge sums as a result of the plunging Naira. Of course, the banks did not want to listen to the plight, they sold dollars at the current exchange rate for transactions over 2 years old. Who protected the importers from the loss? Nobody. They bear the full brunt. And therein lies the point. The moment the business environment is too stifling for the entrepreneur, then more stories like this will occur. And the more we have this kind of stories occur, the longer the recession will last.