10 May 2012

Nigeria: 'North Loses N25 Billion Daily to Boko Haram Insurgency'

Apart from human lives whose value cannot be stated in monetary terms, the northern region is losing no less than N25 billion on a daily basis to the activities of Boko Haram.

This disclosure was made by Alhaji Ahmad Rabiu, chairman of the Conference of Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja.

According to Rabiu, who is also the president of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, businesses that used to thrive in the night hours do not exist anymore due to the palpable fear that pervades the northern states these days. Kano State, he said, is fast losing its status as the city of commerce. "What started in Maiduguri is fast catching up with all of the northern region and the business community is very worried," he lamented.

"We realised that when you have boxed people into a corner, they are not able to operate during the business hours of the night.

At night, we don't do anything and most of the business activities of the day are also having their push in the night. Most supermarkets close at 6pm because of fear of security breach. More than 50 per cent of economic activities happen at night; they don't happen these days or they have been pushed to the lowest and, in a month, you are looking at a loss of about N700 billion," said Rabiu, adding, "now, the effect of these is, you are looking at all the components of loss - that activities have not taken place, capital has been eroded.

As the situation of weakening the future revival is occasioned, chances of revival are becoming more unlikely as time goes on and chances of returning to the former situation we were also threatened.

"So when you put all these things together you find that the loss is insurmountable, but we, in our estimation, going by certain indices, put the losses at N25 billion daily. And insecurity in Kano State is threatening businesses and sending away companies."

"Not too long ago - I think in 2008 - an agency of the United Nations put the figure of commercial motorcyclists operating in Kano at two million. Given that the minimum return each of these cyclists make to the owners is N500 daily, it pre-supposes that, that sector alone is contributing, at minimum, between N1 bn - N2 bn daily. Yet, there are tens of such sectors; some even bringing more money to the economy. Now, they make far less because they must close by 6pm every day."

While commending the efforts of the Goodluck Jonathan administration at fixing the infrastructural problem, he said the governors of the northern states have a responsibility to tackle the security challenge in the region.

Quit if you can't end sect's activities, Arewa youths tell northern governors

A pan-northern youth movement, Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), yesterday told governors of the northern region to "leave the stage" if they cannot chart a road map on how an amicable resolution could be reached between members of the Boko Haram sect and the federal government.

The Forum, which specifically pointed fingers at the chairman of the Northern States Governors' Forum and governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, stated that the activities of the Boko Haram sect has crippled the economy of the region under the very watchful eye of the governors.

Rising from an emergency meeting in Kaduna where crucial issues affecting the region and Nigeria in general were discussed, the AYF said "we would soon mobilize youths to pray for the peace and progress of the region", even as they appealed to all aggrieved groups in the region to embrace dialogue because, compared to other parts of the country, the north has continued to deteriorate due to the guerilla warfare in parts of the region that, for now, appear to have defied solution".

The national president of the AYF, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, said they read with mixed feelings remarks credited to the Niger state governor on how he was able to rid his state of the presence of terror groups, but, unfortunately, he deliberately or otherwise failed to pass on such a formula to his other colleagues in the region so that peace would be entrenched.

The group lamented that since the crisis began and has continued unabated, hundreds had lost their lives while property of inestimable value have been destroyed, leaving the north so unattractive for local and foreign investments.

He described as sad the fact that even businessmen of northern extraction preferred to invest and establish businesses elsewhere instead of the north as was recently exemplified by Dangote, pointing out that in a situation where the governors under the leadership of Babangida Aliyu continued to watch helplessly as such a crisis situation continued to unfold in the region, the best thing is for Governor Aliyu to give way to a much more robust and proactive person who could pave the way for a genuine dialogue so that peace could reign in the region.

AYF's Gujungu said: "Maiduguri is now a no-go area - nothing is going on there and nobody wants to go there because of the atmosphere of uncertainty. Kano is in the headlines on a daily basis and can be described as a theatre of guerilla warfare.

In Yobe, even animals are not spared as over a hundred were recently ambushed and massacred. Kaduna is not free despite being fortified by all kinds of security. In the southern part of Kaduna, innocent persons have been killed by unknown gunmen. Plateau is now a case study for students of sectarian violence.

"And yet Governor Babangida Aliyu is there taking pride in what he could not accomplish while things are going on smoothly in other parts of the country. It's high time he allowed others with foresight to be at the helm of affairs in the Northern Governors' Forum because northerners and other Nigerians are tired of empty rhetoric laced with deceit and half truths."

The AYF also expressed sadness over alleged insensitivity on the part the leadership of the Northern Governors' Forum in leaving one of the surviving legacies of late Sardauna Ahmadu Bello, the New Nigerian newspaper, to be under lock and key for several months, saying the workers deserve to be treated like human beings and should not be allowed to die in abject poverty and misery.

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