1.1 Background of the Study
A protest is a public display of opposition or disapproval for a concept or action in a democratic society. The culmination of this demonstration is when the populace takes to the streets to publicly express their discontent to the government.
The EndSARS campaign movement dates back to 2017, when Nigerian teenagers utilized the hashtag to discuss brutality and assault perpetrated by the former Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). However, the movement did not reemerge until early October 2020, after a video showing police officers believed to be members of the SARS squad shooting an unarmed young man was released. This spurred Nigerian teenagers to take to Twitter, using the hashtags #EndSARS, #Endpolicebrutality, and others, to demand police reform from the Federal Government. On Twitter, the hashtag trended regularly as Nigerian teenagers shared their suffering and experiences.
A tweet that went popular on social media indicated that members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS had murdered a Nigerian kid, stolen his vehicle, and fled the scene. As the video emerged on social media, the hashtag #ENDSARS began to gain traction as an increasing number of young Nigerians sought an end to the ruthless police unit that had brutalized them for years.
On October 4, 2020, the Inspector General of Police of the Nigerian Police Force announced an immediate ban on SARS and other Tactical Squad members performing routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties, such as stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting roadblocks, and traffic checks.
Youths in Lagos State began a three-day demonstration on October 7, 2020, to demand the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force, as part of an effort to reform the police system and eliminate the agency’s extra-judicial actions. Youths were spotted walking to the Force Headquarters in Ikeja, carrying placards with statements such as “Protect, not exploit” and “Nigeria police, stop killing us,” among others (nairametrics.com). This marked the beginning of a 14-day demonstration that finally turned violent and was taken over by thugs, resulting in the damage, vandalism, and looting of public and private property as well as Small and Medium Enterprises throughout the country.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are autonomous, non-subsidiary businesses with less than 500 employees. This number changes from country to country. According to the European Union (EU), SMEs are micro, small, and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 employees and an annual revenue of no more than 50 million Euros. In monetary policy circular No. 22 of 1988, the Central Bank of Nigeria defined SMEs in Nigeria as businesses with an annual turnover of less than five hundred thousand Naira (N500,000). The National Policy on Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) distinguishes enterprises based on employment and assets for the sake of clarity. SMEs are enterprises best characterized by their capital, project scope and cost, annual revenue, financial strength, and personnel count, among other factors. To conduct business in Nigeria, these entities must register under any section of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).
The economic subsector of small and medium-sized businesses bears the key to the nation’s desire for economic growth and development. Today, regardless of the level of global growth and development, nations continue to implement policies and programs that will build and prepare the way for the sustainable development of their economies through the development of SMEs. Numerous studies have demonstrated that small and medium-sized businesses serve as a catalyst for economic growth and development at the national level.
In recent decades, Nigeria has prioritized the expansion of its industrial base through the establishment, maintenance, and growth of small and medium-sized businesses in order to achieve economic growth. This has been the emphasis of successive regimes in Nigeria, including the current democratic regime. Over the years, the deterioration of infrastructure, particularly power, vandalism, and theft, has significantly impacted the performance, growth, and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
1.2 Description of the Problem
People’s mobility and enterprises are frequently disrupted by protests of groups of people in any political system. For people to protest, there are numerous motivating factors, and one of the most important is a desire for a change to something good and better than what the people have been subjected to. A protest is a public display of opposition or disapproval for a concept or action in a democratic society. The culmination of this demonstration is when the populace takes to the streets to publicly express their discontent to the government.
The ill treatment of the Nigerian Police Force Unit known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on the citizens of Nigeria and their brutality on youths sparked the agitation of the youth calling for the disbandment of SARS, which has brought about the killings and kidnapping of youths, harassing youths publicly by looking into their phones, examining the type of car they are driving, the quality of their clothes, and accessing their e-mail accounts.
The unhappiness of the youths over the brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) evolved into the peaceful EndSARS rallies in Lagos State, which demanded that the government dissolve the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit and reform the police force. The protest quickly expanded to other Nigerian states. It began as a peaceful rally by thousands of youths, but the rallies were hijacked by thugs, leading to mob attacks on security officials, the murder of protestors, and the destruction of public and private property and shops.
At exactly 11:49 a.m. on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, the Lagos State Government announced the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in all areas of the state to prevent the destruction of property by hoodlums in the name of the EndSARS protest. During the EndSARS protests, small and medium-sized businesses were damaged and looted. This has resulted in the loss of important assets and resources belonging to the victims of the shoplifting. The obstruction of highways by protesters and the installation of a curfew by the state government of Lagos resulted in the restriction of movement and contributed to a decrease in business demand and supply as well as an increase in the cost of transportation.
For this reason, the purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the EndSARS protest on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Lagos State.
1.3 Aim of the Research
The goal of this study is to analyze the causes of the EndSARS protest in Lagos State and to determine whether or not the EndSARS protest has a detrimental impact on Small and Medium Enterprises in Lagos State.
1.4 Research Problem
The following research questions serve as a guide:
What are the reasons for the EndSARS demonstration in Lagos State?
What are the adverse effects of the EndSARS demonstration in Lagos State?
1.5 Scientific Hypothesis
For this investigation, the following hypothesis was formulated:
The EndSARS protest had no detrimental impact on small and medium-sized businesses.
HA: The protest against SARS has a negative impact on small and medium-sized businesses.
1.6 Importance of the Research
This study will assist the general public, company owners, and government in understanding the threat that the EndSARS protest has posed to SME’s and the economy. It will also attract to the attention of the government and policymakers the need to listen to the demonstrators’ pleas and correct the country’s problems. This study will also serve as a standard for academics and students who wish to conduct additional research on this topic or a related one.
1.7 Range of the Research
This study focuses primarily on the impact of the EndSARS protest on SMEs in Lagos State. Examining the reasons and bad consequences of the EndSARS protest on Small and Medium Enterprises in Lagos State. This study is restricted to a subset of SME proprietors in Lagos State.
1.8 Restrictions of the Research
Time, money, and the availability of research materials on this topic, as well as authenticating respondents’ responses to interviews and questionnaires, were the most significant obstacles encountered by the researcher during this study.
1.9 Terminology Definitions
A protest is a remark or action expressing criticism or disapproval of something.
Special Anti-Robbery Squad; a Nigerian police force unit designed to combat robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, livestock rustling, and firearms-related offenses.
EndSARS is a social movement and series of major rallies in Nigeria demanding the dissolution of the SARS and opposing police abuse.
SMEs: Small and Medium Enterprises are businesses with sales, assets, or staff counts below a specified threshold.
Effect: A change that occurs as a result of an activity or other cause.
Problems or disturbances that disrupt an event, activity, or process.
Destruction is the act or process of severely damaging something.
The act of stealing property from a location, typically during a battle or riot.
Vandalize: To intentionally damage or destroy public or private property.