How Insecurity is Affecting Lives in Northern Nigeria

How insecurity in northern Nigeria is affecting lives

Written by Khadija Garba

A graduate of English Language, Khadija Garba grew up in a small town in Zaria. She is a writer whose random thoughts and beliefs get penned down. Not to mention she derives happiness and fulfillment going through her own published works. Khadija has an addiction for early morning cup of black coffee, Japanese 2D animations (anime), manhwas then finally, English novels. Romance remains her favourite genre.

December 5, 2020

Last Month’s #EndSARS movement had me sitting down to calculate just how much damage the issue of insecurity has done to northern Nigeria. And I’m sure I am not the only one who has been having these thoughts, seeing the #EndInsecurity and #SecureNorth hashtags currently plaguing twitter and the protests carried out in the 19 northern states.

Insecurity in the North dates back far, even before I am aware of it. The history of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria flagged off with ethnic and religious crises across villages and states like Kano, Plateau, and Kaduna, etc. Then the Boko Haram— a terrorist group who made their appearance in Borno state around 2007/2008 endemic joined.

While the issue of the religious crisis was been curbed, this terrorist group gained power and started extending their wings to other neighboring states. The coming of this current government to power in 2015 saw a reduction in their activities. However, they still terrorize Borno and her villages once in a while. Like a sour joke, kidnapping crippled in. It began on the roads, before creeping into personal homes (kidnappers now follow people to their homes to abduct them). Banditry, at last, joined the race. It was a huge disease, plaguing the villages of Zamfara and negligence saw its extension to Katsina and other neighboring states.

The causes of insecurity in Northern Nigeria are known, and they include poverty, religious extremism, and intolerance. Religious crises and Boko Haram are products of these two factors. Other factors that promote insecurity in Nigeria include unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, and most of all incompetence from the government. When individuals know they can escape being punished, it is expected of them to want to try out as many selfish toxic things/crimes as possible. The heart of man is wicked after all. It should be noted that these insecurities have affected Northern Nigeria as a whole in different ways.

Effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria

1. A Reduction in Population

One of the effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria is on the populace of the people. Northern Nigeria is known for its mammoth population. Quite a handful believe the Northerners decide the outcome of every general election in the country. Northern Nigeria comprises nineteen out of the thirty-six states with a population of more than a hundred million. Now the growing lack of security has ensured a decline in the population through:

  • Loss of Lives

A lot of parents have been rendered childless. Quite a number have been made widows and widowers. A lot of children have been transformed into orphans by these wars. Not to mention those who have been incapacitated. To religious crises, thousands of lives have been butchered in classes between the two major religions in the country. Boko Haram has murdered hundreds of thousands through bombing and manslaughter.

Meanwhile, Banditry has massacred tens of thousands. Even Kidnappers kill during their operations. Insecurity in Nigeria has claimed millions of Nigerian lives so far.

  • Displacement

Millions of lives have been forced to leave their homes because of insecurity. Boko haram has chased millions of people from their villages to IDP camps or other neighboring villages outside Nigeria Cameroon. The rising Insecurity in Nigeria is displacing people from the villages of Katsina to places like the Niger republic. A tear in the northern population is just one of the many effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria.

2. Loss of Properties

Another effect of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria is the loss of properties. A lot of people have lost their houses and properties to insecurity. In times of ethnic and religious crises, Boko haram and banditry, people were chased out of their hometowns, all properties the owners become that of their attackers especially if the attackers planned to take over these villages. And not just houses and lands, even livestock do not survive insecurity.

It’s either they die or they run far away from their owners in fear for their own lives. I remember an aunt whose husband used to own more than fifty cows. When the Jos religious crises of the early 2000s came, it engulfed everything he owned. The business buses, the cows, the houses, and the lands. The family had to start from very scratch.

3. Loss of Wealth

By wealth here, I mean money and ransom being paid to the rising issue of kidnapping and banditry in Arewa. Families now lose millions of Naira through ransom for their kidnapped loved ones. Families have it rough to sell all they have just to get back one or two family members.

Some times, what families own is not enough and they have to resort to contributions from extended family and friends. Just recently, a man I know was narrating how one of his friends has lost more than five million Naira to kidnappers in the last two years. Not just kidnappers, even bandits now demand taxes from villagers. Villagers have to pay taxes to keep their villages from being attacked and extinguished.

The same villagers have to pay heavy taxes before they can access their farms when it’s the season for farming. They have to pay before they can farm without harm, and they have to pay some more when it’s time for harvesting. Just recently, it was confirmed that the taxes paid is between 600,000 to one million naira.

4. A Dent on the Local Economy

Farming has always been a northern heritage. Even before independence and the discovery of crude oil, the north was famous for its famous groundnut pyramids in Kano and other farm products such as maize, rice, etc. To this day, Arewa is in charge of providing ingredients like onions, tomatoes, maize, etc. to other parts of the country for both individual and factory use. This perhaps explains the scarcity of onions in the country.

Agriculture is the one sector the rising insecurity in Nigeria has seriously affected. People who have lost their properties to Insecurity find farming a difficult venture thus end up giving up. Suddenly, renting a plot of land to farm doesn’t seem attractive.

Kidnappings and banditry in the north have had a lot of folks slacking down on farming. People living in the cities are afraid to go farm in the villages for fear of being kidnapped. I know someone who has not invested in agriculture for the last two years for fear of abduction. Villagers are also beginning to take a break from farming. Why won’t they when Boko Haram brutally butchered more than forty farmers in their rice field in Zabarmari of Borno state?

Because of this strain in farming, food prices are not funny. Usually, this time of the year, food prices start going down as fresh ones are being harvested. The story is however different for this year. The effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria seem to be going from bad to worse and it might end up haunting the whole country for a long if care is not taken.

5. Lost of Livelihood

One of the effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria is the displacement and loss of properties. As most villagers do not depend on the government for work, they only they believe in agriculture. They believe in titling the lands for blessed are the lands that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Today, displacement has a lot of these people losing their lands thus, losing their source of income. Some might recover while others will never. And it’s not only farmers, artisans like hunters, traditional doctors, etc. also lose their source of livelihood. Business owners like shopkeepers also lose everything during these destructions.

6. Spike In Unemployment

When there is a loss of livelihood, it only seems fair the rate of unemployment goes up. Even without the insecurity issue in place, unemployment in towns and cities in Nigeria use to be an everyday issue. With people leaving their homes without a quarter of what they possess, the number will naturally go up.

7. Increased Social Vices

Due to the above reasons, Social vices like prostitution, theft, and drug trafficking are on the rise. People will do what is necessary to survive, even if it means prostitution, stealing, and even drug dealing. Of recent, research was conducted and it came out with results like some females have to give sex in exchange for food for themselves and their families in IDP camps. Issues like this are social problems that’ll only affect society if left unchecked.

Scammers and fraudsters are also on the rise. I remember a story where a man was using this issue of insecurity to scam money off a white woman who genuinely wanted to help. He’ll organize people, seek permission from authorities, enter camps, snap pictures then cook up stories to feed to this woman. She’ll in turn send money to him intending to help the victims affected. These victims however never get to see the man again let alone receive the help. Now, there have been testimonies of some NGOs being scams. Insecurity created a vacuum, and people are using that vacuum for their selfish gains.

8. Fear of Traveling

One of the effects of insecurity in northern Nigeria is the frequent fear of having to travel by roads especially since only a few can afford to travel by air. There used to be a time when people could travel to any part of the Arewa, anytime. To avoid being kidnapped, one has to avoid traveling at night. One also has to be choosy of the road they follow. Roads like Birnin Gwari are no-go areas.

Then there is the high rise in kidnapping along the Kaduna-Abuja highway and other parts of Kaduna roads. People now dread traveling by road because it is no more a pleasant experience as there is the fear of being stopped and chased into the bushes.

Solutions to the Insecurity in Northern Nigeria

Now, I can’t just list out all the problems without offering any kind of solution. To curb down insecurity in Northern Nigeria, the government has to strongly step in with full force. While creating more work opportunities to flag down unemployment and poverty, armed forces should be deployed to these villages to work hand in hand with the villagers to counterattack banditry while some should be stationed at roads like Abuja-Kaduna Highway.

To tackle issues like Kidnappings especially the ones that happen at the homes of the victims, the police and other forces should be fully equipped so that they won’t fret and have doubts or fear when called upon to carry out their duties.

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