By Vincent Ujumadu
PARTICIPANTS at this year’s colloquium organized by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School have observed that most businesses in the country have gone into coma as a result of the outbreak of COVID -19.
The 2020 visual colloquium, which dwelt on business survival, growth and concomitant improvement in the post-COVID -19 pandemic era, attracted participants from the private sector and the academia.
Speaking on the theme, ‘COVID-19 Pandemic: Sustainability of Livelihood and Businesses in Developing Economies’ the lead discussant, Professor Sunny Nwankwo, described COVID-19 as a ‘moderator variable’, noting that it had changed businesses and consumer behaviours across board.
He observed that prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Nigerian economy was already in crisis and suggested that the only way to improve the situation was for the policymakers to provide good governance and conducive environment that would enable businesses to thrive.
According to him, COVID-19 has exposed the poor infrastructure in the country, stressing that there was, therefore, the need for everybody to brace up and face the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“Poor enabling environment is the greatest obstacle of business development and it is manmade. We need to look at institutional credibility and preservation of businesses. Governments must take actions that will impact positively on the small and medium enterprises, especially in this COVID-19 era. They must provide the enabling environment and all hands should be on deck to survive the effects of the pandemic”, he said.
Managing director of Juhel Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Eric Okoye described COVID-19 as a big trauma to many businesses, noting that it had left most SMEs in coma. He decried what he described as multiple taxations on businesses by government, remarking that without SMEs, there would be no vibrant economy.
He called for the development of local technology and raw materials to stabilize the economy and charged academicians to proffer solutions to the sustainability of small and medium enterprises.
Director of Unizik Business School, Professor Austin Nonyelu stressed the need to re-jig the informal sector of the economy, which, according to him, play central role in the economic growth of developing countries.
“Government should re-energize the productive sector, sustain livelihood of producers and workers, especially those in lower long of the ladder.
“Because of COVID-19, there should be a moratorium on taxation so as to eliminate all the unnecessary charges on small scale producers, retailers and medium-term enterprises for the next one year. This will help to stimulate people who do business at that level to avoid economic crash”, Nonyelu said.
Other discussants at the colloquium include the vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Charles Esimone, the deputy director of the UNIZIK Business School, Dr. Chinedu Onyeizugbe, Professor Ezinne Nnabuife, Mrs Ugochi Akwiwu-Onyike of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, and Mrs. Florence Igboayaka.