Residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, have cried out over astronomical sums being demanded as rent by property owners in the city. The massive jump in house rent is attributed to increase in the number of staff of local and international humanitarian organisations providing relief for victims of Boko Haram insurgency.
Residents lamented that property owners in the city prefer to have humanitarian organisations as tenants instead of locals. The staff of these organisations, flush with cash, are also blamed for rising cost of living in the city.
Areas of the city such as New GRA, Damboa Road, NTA Quarters, Old GRA, Giwa Barracks Road and Lagos Street have a preponderance humanitarian organisations' staff. Some of the staff also reside in hotels, where they have lengthy occupancy periods.
Mohammed Kadi, a resident, told SaharaReporters that most of the house owners and agents unashamedly tell prospective tenants that they would rather have humanitarian agencies as tenants.
" I have been to five places to for accommodation, but the first thing they usually ask is: "Are you working for an NGO?" If you say no, they would say we are giving accommodation to people working with humanitarian agencies or non-governmental organisations. It is really disturbing and it is because the organisations are willing to pay millions in rent. In fact, most of the hotels have been booked for at least a year," Kadi lamented.
Bukola Aderibigbe, an undergraduate, said she did not believe that property owners were discriminating against locals until she witnessed a situation near her home on Damboa Road.
"An NGO paid sum of N16million as yearly rent for a guest house for its staff. The whole house is not worth more N30 million if put up for sale. More than a dozen NGOs have their staff and office accommodation around Damboa Road and they paid in millions for their offices," she said.
Abdullahi Shehu, a civil servant who lives in Old GRA, put the blame squarely at the doorstep of the relief organisations.
"Before, a two bedroom flat in my area cost between N100, 000 and N200, 000 yearly. Now, it is N1.5million. A 3 bedroom flat costs between N5million to N7million," lamented Shehu.
SaharaReporters gathered that about 60 local and international nongovernmental organizations moved to Borno State between last year and now.