Are we on the threshold of economic redefinition?
Boko Haram’s activity in Kano, Kaduna, Bornu, Yobe and Bauchi is gradually changing the economic structure of the whole of northern Nigeria. Our research indicates that if the violence persists, development in that region will be tampered and the gap between the North and other regions will widen further.
The evidence and fast changing indices (in form of changing migration patterns, cost of insurance in the North, mass repatriation of funds, dearth in skilled labour etc) speaks volumes. In economic terms, what the insurrection effects is a systemic distortion of existing economic patterns and structure in the Northern region.
Historically, each region in Nigeria compliments the other. What the North lacks in access to the sea, the south provides. The North wields 78 percent of Nigeria’s land which supports most of Nigeria’s agriculture (food, cash crops and livestock).
The south-west’s terrain supports both domestic and international commerce and provides an import/export rout. While the South-South and some parts of the South-East wield Nigeria’s oil wealth. If Boko Haram’s activities persist, this economic symphony will be altered significantly.
Changing patterns of migration
With increased intensity of bombings in the north, there was strategic mass movement of individuals from the most affected northern states especially in early 2012. This was accentuated by the uncertainties surrounding the fuel price crisis at the time. The movements were of a strange kind since both southerners and Northerners simultaneously moved from Boko Haram strong holds. While Northerners moved from the south-East in hundreds many relocated either to safe parts of the North or the South-West.
Migrating Southerners were mostly women and children (moving to the South-East) who were sent away to safety by their husbands. The men, mostly businessmen stayed behind to defend their livelihood.
As of now, there is no direct evidence that those who migrated on the back of increasing insecurity have returned to the states they fled. There is no doubt that if the crisis persists, there will be significant dearth in professionals, artisans and commercial professionals in the region.
A doctor at the University of Maiduguri teaching hospital told us that many professionals in the service sector and doctors have sort for transfer out of affected zones in the North. Some whose requests are not being honored and feel they cannot continue in the apprehension resign on the back of pressure from relations. Those who remain do so because opportunities are few. One preliminary indication of the developing lacuna is that most vacancy announcements from the North (especially late last year) carried salaries; perhaps in an attempt to attract qualified individuals.
A new look for the mortgage business?
Rent in major metropolises in Kano, Bornu and Yobe reduced significantly as the crisis accelerated. This is normal as population depletes. But the situation is expected to be different in regions where forced migrants flee to.
There are a few possibilities, associated with the new pattern of migration. If the sect’s activities intensify in the next few months; fleeing families are bound to put more pressure on infrastructure in the South-West, South-East and South-South.
Lagos may be the most severely affected state considering the fact that most of those fleeing the north are more inclined to settle in cities that can support their businesses. If the patterns persist, cost of living in major southern cities and the value of properties will appreciate on the back of pressure.
Terrorism makes Northern roads less busy
One of the most affected sectors of the Northern economy is transport. The effect of Boko Haram is felt more by those involved in the transportation of passengers from the South to the North and vice versa. Whether it is the 13-seater passenger bus operator or the 59-passenger luxury bus operator, the woes cut across.
Before the onslaught, most operators made at least two trips per week, on their vehicles. But at the moment, they hardly make one trip per week. Indeed, the level of activity in road transport has reduced abysmally. As of now, it requires twice as much effort to get a 13-seater bus full of passengers these days. Clearly, fewer individuals are travelling northward.
Another factor that has slowed down transport business in the North is the presence of multiple check points, which were set up to ensure safety of passengers and goods in some parts of the north. The presence of security personnel reduced cases of Boko Haram attacks and armed robbery on major highways in the North but also increased travel time as passengers and their luggage are thoroughly checked at various points.
Before now, every trip (to and from the north) fetched a transporter operating a 13-seater bus about N40, 000. But with the current situation, owners of these buses have jacked up the amounts their drivers deposit per trip within the range of N45, oo0- N50,000 since only one trip is possible these days. This has mounted.