Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Banditry Effects: North-Central and N’West face N902bn debt as revenue struggles continue.

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In North-Central and North-West Nigeria, escalating banditry has majorly hindered revenue, foreign investments, and left many states with significant debt. 10 out of 13 states including Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Sokoto, and Kaduna are especially affected.

Data from the first quarter of 2021 reveals that these states’ combined internally generated revenue (IGR) was a mere 34.24% of Lagos State’s IGR for the same period. By the first quarter of 2023, there was only a slight improvement, reaching 30.85% of Lagos State’s IGR. Notably, data from Sokoto was absent. For context, Zamfara, heavily impacted by insecurity, generated a paltry N4.28bn in IGR in Q1 2023, a fraction of what states like Delta and Edo achieved.

Out of the 10 states most affected by banditry, only 4 saw any foreign investments between Q1 2021 and Q1 2023. Even among these, the investments were significantly low. Kano, for instance, attracted only about $2.40m in Q1 2021. By Q1 2023, Niger was the sole state to record capital importation at $1.50m.

While these states managed to raise their IGR by N12.12bn from Q1 2021 to Q1 2023, they also borrowed a staggering N148.42bn domestically in the same timeframe. Their total domestic debt soared to N902.62bn in Q1 2023, reflecting the dire straits many are in, compounded by their dependency on federal allocations.

Banditry has also severely affected agriculture. In Zamfara, for instance, bandits have declared that there will be no farming this year unless the state government reconciles with them. Consequently, over 70% of the farmlands in the state have been abandoned by farmers. Many farmers share their stories of loss, despair, and the fear of bandit attacks.

Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara has assured the public of his administration’s efforts to ensure farmers can safely cultivate their lands. Yet, the state government has firmly declared it won’t negotiate with bandits. Nasarawa farmers also recount the challenges of banditry, emphasizing the need for urgent action.

These regions urgently require a multi-pronged approach to revive their economies and ensure the safety of their residents. Banditry not only affects immediate safety but also has long-term repercussions on economic stability and growth.

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