Bread producers under the aegis of the Premium Bread-Makers Association of Nigeria, on Thursday, staged a peaceful protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly and expressed grievances over what they described as harsh government policies affecting their businesses.
The bread makers, who marched through the streets of Alausa, Ikeja to the Lagos State House of Assembly Complex, held placards with various messages indicating their challenges.
The President of the association, Onuora Emmanuel, told journalists outside the assembly that the group had written a letter to the Office of the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, detailing the various challenges facing break makers occasioned by poor government policies.
He said the association decided to come to the assembly because the state government had refused to address the challenges facing bread makers.
“We are staging a peaceful protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly to complain to the state government how uneasy it is to do business in Lagos State. We issued a press release about two weeks ago. We wrote to the state governor, but nobody has answered us. So we are taking our complaints to the representative of the people, that is the state House of Assembly,” Onuora said.
“We are not saying we will not pay the rates, but we want a single regulator in Lagos State, we want to know where we belong to in the state. We can’t be doing business and be putting money into the coffers of the state government while our members are suffering. Our demand is for the state government to tell us how many agencies we need to deal with. We want a single agency to regulate us as it is done elsewhere.”
In a letter titled, “Unbearable intimidation, harassment by state agencies and the challenges of doing business in Lagos State: Save our businesses,” and addressed to the Speaker of the House, Hon Mudashiru Obasa, the bread makers appealed to the state parliament to “save our businesses from collapse and prevent over one million people in Lagos State under our employment from becoming jobless and being pushed back into the already saturated unemployment market.”
According to the protesting bread makers, the key challenges threatening the survival of bread factories include multiple oversight/monitoring of businesses by numerous state ministries, agencies and parastatals; intimidation and harassment of drivers and delivery vans by state agencies and miscreants; undue checks and monitoring which shrouds the essence of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, and hostile treatment by men of the Nigeria Police Force, among other concerns.
The effects of the hostile production environment, they said, had made business operational capacity to drop below 50 per cent, while staff retention as well as employment of more staff was now challenged with the attendant PAYE tax by the state government.
“The implication is that job losses to the tune of 500,000 persons are imminent if this negative trend is not reversed,” the association added.
Hon Tobun Abiodun, a member Representing the Epe Constituency 1 at the state House of Assembly and Chairman, House Committee on Works and Infrastructure, alongside his colleague, Hon Akande Victor, the Chairman, House Committee on Petitions, addressed the protesters.
They promised the businessmen and women that the House would critically examine the issues raised with a view to amicably resolving them.