Insecurity: Nigeria Loses Trillions – Usman

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Nigeria has lost trillions of naira to the spiralling insecurity ravaging the country, according to officials of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

Findings by Saturday Sun show that the frightening level of insecurity has put the country’s economy into a tailspin. The effect is such that right now it is headed into total collapse if nothing is urgently done to stem the rising tide of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and ritualism ravaging the landscape, from North to South.

Indeed, insecurity has affected virtually every sector – agriculture, education, transportation, mining and manufacturing. Some multinational companies, it was gathered, are currently planning to exit from Nigeria to safer African nations. It is alleged that their workers, especially expatriates, are now being targeted by kidnappers.

In addition, terrorists have killed many farmers, ravaged many farms and forced many in agrarian communities to seek refuge in overcrowded Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps. They have also planted improvised explosives device (IEDs) on lands meant for crops and thereby worsening the food crisis, the newspaper was told.

Disturbing statistics showing what Nigeria is losing and its continuing paralyzing effect do not give any cause for cheer.  Nigeria’s sovereign debt is now about N41.6 trillion. The productive sector for exports has crashed. Debt repayment numbers have continued to dwarf income generation.  Inflation has risen to an all-time high at 19.64 per cent. Investors now shun Nigeria as they believe that terrorism and kidnapping have become the only thriving enterprise in the country.

The Central Bank’s report shows that many farmers under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) have not been able to repay their loans. As at March 2021, they owed N463 billion. The report showed that N615.4 billion had been disbursed to 3,038,899 beneficiaries. But out of this amount, only N152.3bn has been recovered. Sources said that the debt has risen to over N500 billion owing to banditry and kidnapping.  In all, reports of several body issues look scary. For manufacturers and other players in the Organised Private Sector (OPS), the horror is as haunting as ever.

Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, described the financial implications in the past eight months as spine-chilling. He said it would be impossible to accurately put a figure to the quantum of money paid as ransom to kidnappers. He said that trillions of naira had been paid to criminals over the years. These, he said, has remained unreported for security reasons. 

Insecurity has also affected investment and the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  For instance, data from the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) in the first quarter of 2022 showed that the country’s investment in the first three months of 2022 was $8.41 billion. This, it is said, is 69 per cent or $2.58 billion lower than what it was in the first quarter of 2021. The GDP, according to the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) showed that eight per cent or $132.59 billion (N50.38 trillion at N380/$1) is being impacted economically by the growing violence. Oyerinde expressed concern at the rate de-industrialization is taking place in the northern part of the country, describing it as unprecedented.

READ ALSO: Strike: We won’t make up for lost time if FG doesn’t pay arrears –ASUU

The Chairman, Apapa branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Onyebu added that large expanses of arable land are now lying fallow. He said: “Mines have shut down. Existing investments are disappearing. Even the Chinese, who are renowned risk-takers, are leaving the country. I would say that the Nigerian economy has lost nothing less than N10 trillion in the last five years.”

The President of Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA), John Udeagbala, lamented that many manufacturers have folded up for lack of raw materials to work with, while farmers have stopped going to the farms for fear of being kidnapped or killed. Many traders have also stopped travelling to the hinterlands to buy goods for the same reason.

In the South Eastern part of Nigeria, the sit-at-home strike imposed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) over the incarceration of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has paralysed the economy. Prof Chukwuma Soludo, the Anambra State governor estimated the loss at N19.6 billion every Monday. This is so because, as he noted, a significant part of the state’s economy is powered by artisans, keke drivers, vulcanizers, hairdressers, cart pushers, petty traders, bricklayers, women frying akara, and all those who depend upon daily toils and sweats to feed their families. A top police officer who asked that his name remains anonymous estimated that the ransom paid so far by families and relatives of the kidnapped at over N700 million. 

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