The economy of Borno State is fast collapsing as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency
| By Ishaya Ibrahim | Dec. 17, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT
BORNO State, once reputed as the commercial hub of the northeastern region, is on the brink of economic collapse. No thanks to Boko Haram. Violent activities of the dreaded sect have taken a huge toll on the people of the state as non-indigenes and foreigners are relocating their investments to other states of the federation where the environment is conducive to their business growth. Consequently, poverty is staring the state in the face following the collapse of businesses. There are more closed shops than the ones that are open for business.
Banking activities are also affected. Plagued by robberies, mostly carried out by Boko Haram insurgents to fund the sect’s operations, many banks have been barely surviving by offering skeletal services. Most of them resume work by 9am and close by 1pm compared to their counterparts in other states where bank officials resume work at 8am and close at 4pm.
The state government is also facing extreme financial squeeze owing to insecurity of lives and property. Operations at its state secretariat are sometimes stalled because of lack of funds, especially to fuel its generators. Worse for the people of the state is the delay in exploration of hydrocarbon at the Lake Chad Basin for gas and oil which according to a survey carried out by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in conjunction with a Chinese oil consultant, indicated the presence of oil in about 3350 square metres of land. The exploration, if started, has the potential of reviving the state’s economic woes. But exploration activities are being affected by the violence in the area as foreign investors express doubts about their safety in the crisis ridden state.
The poor security situation has taken a huge toll on farming and trading, the major economic activities in the state and, inevitably on individual’s purchasing power. This has forced many indigenes of the state to seek economic fortune elsewhere. Mostly, the peace and fortune seekers head to Abuja, the federal capital territory, while their wives and children are left behind. Young men form the bulk of those fleeing the state because Boko Haram have, for some time now, made them the object of their attacks.
For some time now, Danjuma Ahmadu, a motor mechanic, has been contemplating whether to also join in the migration or continue to hope that things would eventually get better in his home state. Even after witnessing, almost on daily basis, pains and sorrows of his neighbours as they bury their loved ones who got killed by Boko Haram, he still has refused to take the risk of starting life in a strange land.
But Ahmadu changed his mind after the death of his colleague who was gunned down in their mechanic Gomboru Custom’s workshop one early morning in September. Ahmadu escaped death by the whiskers as he was also supposed to be at the workshop when the killers came but providence spared him. Since that day, he has decided to also relocate, squatting with his friends who left before him in Abuja. Now, without a job, he has nothing to send home for the upkeep of his family.
Gomboru Customs, Ahmadu’s home town, is now populated with women and children, whose bread winners are either dead or have fled for safety. Such women now do menial trading to keep body and soul together. Luckily, Boko Haram hasn’t made them targets for assassination yet although some of them have been killed by the group on allegation that they were security informants.