• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Military success brings new hope to businesses in N/East states

The military’s significant success over Boko Haram insurgents in some parts of Nigeria’s north-east in recent weeks is bringing new hope to businesses in that part of the country.

Informed sources told BusinessDay that farmers of groundnuts, sesame and vegetables, who had fled because of heightened insurgency, are gradually returning to their farms in areas such as Fika, Nguru, Bade and other parts of Yobe State, stepping up  economic activity in these areas.

The activities of insurgents and thieves in Borno have reportedly subsided, say private security operators who report fewer call-ups to run escort services for providers of goods and services in the state, to ward off possible attacks by insurgents and thieves.

The agricultural businesses for which the state is known,  still thrive, as farmers of sesame, beans, cotton and other products are still in production and maintain patronage from the country, as well as from neighbouring nations.

“Our sesame business is growing. People are coming to buy it and export to other countries. Many come in, buy trailer-loads of beans and take them to Lagos,” said Mohamed Rijiya, president, Borno Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, in an earlier interview with BusinessDay.

Cement is not left out as Dangote Cement (Dangcem) is still said to be transporting large numbers of trucks into the state, underlining growing infrastructural and housing needs.

“One hundred trucks of Dangote Cement come into Maiduguri daily. If people say businesses are not taking place, why is Dangcem coming in such a large number?” Rijiya queried.

In Adamawa State, Dangote Sugar Refineries(DSR) is expanding  its recently acquired Savannah Sugar in Numan, Adamawa State, rapidly. Its target is 1.5 million metric tones (MT) and expansion from current 6,500 hectares (ha) to 21,000 ha, to produce 100,000 tonnes sugar annually by 2018.

HoneyGold Group is also investing $300 million on two sites in Adamawa state, with the target of producing 200,000 tonnes sugar annually, while Crystal Sugar Mills is currently investing $30 million to expand its operations to produce 60,000 tonnes sugar/annum from its acquired 1,500 TCD Sugar plant at Hadejia, Jigawa state.

‘’Yes, I can speak for the farmers we are in partnership with in Adamawa,’’ said  Graham Clark, group managing director, in an interview with BusinessDay.

‘’We assist them with technical input, in the procurement of fertiliser, in the maintenance of equipment and most importantly, guarantee them ready market,’’ he said.

Abdurahaman Modibbo Girei, president, Adamawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said insecurity is highest in Michika and Madagali, stressing that the major problem is the influx of internally displaced persons from the two areas into less hostile areas.

Girei said investors are adopting a “wait-and-see’ attitude over the state of security, adding that goods such as guinea corn, vegetables, yams, rice and others, are no more moved to Cameroon, owing to shut borders.

“Though these goods are in large quantity at markets, their prices are yet to fall,” he said.

However, stakeholders say the  areas most affected by the onslaught of Boko Haram insurgents in the state remain Gujba and Gulani, where construction workers, telecoms service providers, banks and other businesses have nearly all closed shop.