Sept 9, 2012 – Boko Haram Attacks: Northern Nigerian Economy Slumps
Northern Nigerian states are currently experiencing a terrible economic slump over the persistent bloodshed and attacks by Boko Haram Islamic sect in the states. www.naijagists.com
Investigation revealed increasing capital flight induced by either forced closure or low-capacity production by commercial outfits due to worsening insecurity in the region.
Small businesses are the most hit especially retail shops whose owners are mainly from the Southern states generally regarded as common targets of the rampaging sect. For instance, reports from some of the states including Sokoto and Bauchi indicated worsening economic situation with the attendant adverse effects on the lives of residents. In Sokoto state, the twin suicide bomb attack a few months ago took its toll on commercial activities in the seat of the caliphate.
Though, the state was not part of the commercial hub of the northern region, residents’ day-to-day business activities came under threats after the incident. Sokoto, widely adjudged as one of the most peaceful and orderly states in the federation, was jolted by the July 19, 2012, coordinated attack by the Islamic group, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihadl, otherwise known as Boko Haram. Moreover, Sunday Sun found that only few commercial banks in the state maintain their operational hours of 9am to 4pm daily while the rest have swiftly adjusted their service hours to 9am to 1pm daily since the attack.
Consequently, long queues of customers ahead of operational hours have become commonplace at most banks. The security measures put in place after the incident in the state that shares borders with Niger Republic and Chad, caused strict restrictions that adversely affected free movement of goods and services especially within the metropolis. It was gathered that hitherto, trans-border trade boomed in the state because buying of livestock and cereal crops from these countries for sale in Nigerian markets en route Sokoto state was cheaper and more profitable than trading on the local breeds. Now, due to strict security checks at the border towns, traders from these countries are scared and seldom come to Nigerian markets.
Malam Abubakar Sabo, a Sokoto-based trans-border trader who deals mainly in local sheep from Niger Republic told Sunday Sun that his livestock business had been seriously threatened since the beginning of the insurgence in the north. Sabo decried alleged harassments by security personnel of both countries at the border posts, despite his ECOWAS passport. His words: “My business has been threatened since the beginning of this insurgency by Boko Haram because we cannot access easily some comparative goods in our neighboring countries such as Niger Republic and Chad. Before now, I would order for a truckload of sheep from Niger Republic without hindrance at any border point. But all have changed with security agencies denying entry of such goods or in most cases, delaying it for some days. As a result of this, some of the livestock die before reaching the market”.
At Kara market, a reputable livestock and onions market in the state, many traders lamented their sad experiences while transporting goods from Sokoto to Lagos. “At every checkpoint, we were perceived and tagged as members of Boko Haram by security agencies on the road because we are from a Northern state”, a trader, Musa Yahaya, said. Bemoaning the dwindling fortunes of the north in one of his recent outings, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar urged perpetrators of terrorism and related acts in the region to stop shedding of blood.
“We must come back to our senses and say firmly and resolutely that enough is enough”, the royal father said, noting that the level of insecurity in the north was slowly but surely tearing apart every fabric of the religious, social and economic life of the people. “The bloodshed must stop. Each and every one of us must come to appreciate that we cannot continue on this destructive path. We must open active, meaningful and sincere channels of dialogue and communication to ensure that we listen to those who have real grievances and to take genuine efforts to address them.” “Allah will definitely put to shame those who seek to violate the honour and sanctity of Muslims.
We must at all times seek Allah’s intervention through prayers for there is no calamity or distress that He cannot dispel.” The Sultan also expressed worry over the level of poverty in the society especially in the Northern states, saying the federal, state and local governments must embark on meaningful development programmes that would make life easier and more pleasant for the majority of the people. His words: “The current level of poverty, especially in the northern states, cannot be acceptable in any decent society. We can hide behind our rhetoric but we cannot run away from the stark realities which characterize the daily lives of our people.”
In Bauchi state where members of the sect first struck at the Dutse Tanshi police station in July, 2009, business has also nosedived. Checks by Sunday Sun revealed that business activities in the state especially the capital has witnessed a lull due to the activities of the sect. This partly because several residents from the south especially the South East relocated to either their home-states or other parts of the South. Chinedu Eze, from Udi in Enugu State told our correspondent: “Generally, people are relocating from Bauchi.
Many of my brothers have left for Abuja, Port Harcourt and Bayelsa.” Chinedu who sells travelling bags along Wunti Street in Bauchi, hinted that the exodus was still on. “Many are still planning to go. Everybody from the South is making plans for 2015. As you can see, the whole place is dull. Nothing is happening.” An electronics dealer, Kevin Eze from Nnato in Abia State lamented that the attacks had seriously affected his business and he had no plans to live in Bauchi anymore.
“We are leaving the state because we are not comfortable. Everybody is afraid. I am not happy at all with the development especially in Bauchi and government seemed not to be doing anything about it.” Hotels in the state are among public and commercial places that were targets of the spate of bombings in the state. A visit to the five-star Zaranda Hotla along Jos road, Awalah Hotel, Larema Hotel among others, revealed that the tension in the state had taken a toll on nightlife.
“We usually had a lot of conferences, workshops and we made a lot of money. But not anymore because many national organizations which loved to host their workshops and conferences in Bauchi no longer come because of the insecurity and this is pathetic,” a hotelier who pleaded anonymity said. Some residents also told our correspondent that due to the stop-and-search by the police in the state, night life especially in the state capital has been dull.
“I liked night life and I loved frequenting Larema and some joints in Bayan Gari to relax. But since bomb exploded in Bayan Gari area where I used to relax, I am now afraid to go out for night parties. Besides, the search by the police is sometimes too tedious, so it is better you stay at home.” The usually crowd-pulling viewing centres where football lovers watched matches especially premier leagues have also been affected due to past deadly attacks. A housewife who pleaded anonymity complained about her husband’s regular visits to such centres in spite of the insecurity.
“I have warned my husband several times but he would not listen. He usually goes to these clubs to watch matches and this Boko Haram people could take them by surprise,” she said. However, one of the owners of the viewing centres in Yelwa area of the state capital, Mr called Barry said he had introduced metal device to search people coming to watch football. “We have to do it because we don’t want to take chances. But generally, my business has not been affected,” he said.
Also, Sunday Sun learnt that the popular Central Market now opens at 9 am and closes 5 pm because of the insecurity as against 6 am to 6 pm before the attacks. Similarly, due to several attacks on banks in Darazo, Misau, Alkaleri and Jammare, Azare, Gamawa, and Toro, banks in the state capital now close their businesses by 3 pm. The development has affected a lot of customers who have to rush and make transactions before 3 pm.
“The presence of heavily armed men indicates that all is not well and we just have to carry out our activities with caution because anything can happen.” But the police Public Relations Officer of the Bauchi State command, ASP Mohammed Auyo assured citizens that the state was relatively peaceful and called on members of the public to go about the lawful business without molestation.(thesun)