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INTERVIEW: "Our Lives Turned Upside Down"—Adamawa Residents Recount Fears Of B'Haram, Banditry, Kidnapping

Residents of Boko Haram-ravaged areas in Adamawa State tell SaharaReporters how the decade-long insurgency has affected their socio-economic lives.

Residents of Boko Haram-ravaged areas in Adamawa State tell SaharaReporters how the decade-long insurgency has affected their socio-economic lives.

My Income Dropped From N40,000 To Barely N10,000 – Mohammed Haruna, 37-Year-Old Meat Seller


I have been in this business for about 17 years now. The insecurity is undoubtedly affecting our lives. My business has been badly hit by insecurity. To start with, I left my hometown of Gwoza, in Borno State, when the Boko Haram terrorists occupied the area, way back in 2014 and settled here in Yola, Adamawa State.

Life has not been easy for us; my wife and two children were forced to relocate here. Since then, I have been doing my business as a meat seller. Unfortunately, towards the end of last year, 2019, all sorts of security challenges began to erupt here and there. It was either someone was kidnapped for ransom or bandits invaded an area, killed innocent people and carted away their valuables.

The situation, as you have also known, is devastating, just as it has disrupted business in this place. Things got worse for us with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insecurity in Northern Nigeria has negatively affected my business. Before now, I could sell as much as N30,000 to N40,000 beef, with a profit margin of about N7,000 to N10,000 daily. With that kind of profit, I was able to provide for my family with ease. But as we speak, very few people eat beef, given the current hardship. Now, I hardly sell up to N10,000, making a paltry daily profit of N1,500 or N2000.

For me, it feels the end has come because there seems to be no hope, as things keep getting worse by the day. The President should replace the Chief of Army Staff and other top security commanders.

The Government Has Failed Us – Saidu Kabo, 50-Year-Old Fruit Vendor


I have been doing this business for the past 21 years. We are almost in a state of confusion. One is not wrong to say that everything is failing. Today, in this part of the country, hoodlums operate in broad daylight unchallenged.

As you can see, I sell perishable fruits. And in my 21 years in business, it has never been this bad. I guess you know we get some of our supplies from the Southern part of the country. Up North here, we do not grow some of the fruits. Owing to the security issues in our region, most of the suppliers are reluctant to bring their goods. 

Consequently, the forces of demand and supply have to play out. For instance, a bag of oranges, which previously sold for N2000, now goes for N7000. As a result, the majority of the people have to make do without oranges and fruits, generally in their daily meals. 

Sincerely speaking, urgent measures must be taken by authorities concerned; else, the future looks bleak.

I think the government has failed us. We voted for President Buhari with high hopes. We saw him as the Messiah, but right now, I think we have to go back to God in prayers. Also, I think it's time for the service chiefs to be replaced with people with better ideas.

Ban On Motorcycles Being Used By Criminals Affected Me – Chief Linus Ejioke, 56-Year-Old Spare Parts Seller


I recall that because the bandits and other violent elements were using motorcycles to perpetrate crimes, the government decided to ban the use of motorcycles in most urban centres in Adamawa State. And you can tell the implications of that directive on my business. This is my 35th year in the business of spare parts.

When banditry and kidnapping extended to the rural communities, most villagers also stopped using their motorcycles, to avoid being seen as rich enough to be kidnapped. As of now, I am barely surviving, hoping that there would be a turnaround.

I can tell you without mincing words that the business environment in the North is terrible. Sometimes, one is forced to contemplate relocating back home to the South-East.

It is common knowledge that virtually all critical stakeholders have called for the sacking of security chiefs, but the call seems to have fallen on deaf ears of the leaders.

Surprisingly, even the Nigeria Senate made the same demand, but no action has been heard yet from the Presidency. In saner climes, the service chiefs would have long been fired. Like any other Nigerian, I am wondering why President Buhari is still keeping them.

My Family Of Four Survives On N1000 Daily – Lazarus Kamilu, 39-Year-Old Fast Food Vendor


The business is presently doing badly. It will not be out of place to say that there is no business anymore. I have been a fast-food vendor, selling noodles, eggs and tea for the past ten years.

Just before the end of last year when violent crimes began to surge, I was making N30,000 daily from this business. But now few people are willing to stay out in the night. Consequently, I have lost about 60 to 70 per cent patronage. With this stark reality, I, my wife and two children, now have to live on N1000 per day.

I think there is too much poverty in the land. And until that is addressed, I am afraid things may only get worse.

Bandits Carted Away My Bulls In Broad Daylight – Siman Welliu, 55-Years-Old Cattle Breeder


I inherited cattle breeding from my father. So, I can tell you I have been doing this since I was about 15 or 17 years old.

I think even a kindergarten child knows about the problem of insecurity in Northern Nigeria. As to whether it has affected me, I can categorically say yes. I had more than ten bulls last month, but where are they now? Bandits stormed this village in broad daylight and carted them away. I only watched them helplessly because they were heavily armed.

This is a very strange phenomenon. And it appears we no longer have security in this country.

But the disturbing part is that almost every week, the police are in the news, either parading bandits or kidnappers in their hundreds; yet the crimes keep increasing.

I think the security agencies should fear God and do the job they swore an oath to do. This is because many times, you hear all sorts of allegations of collaboration between security operatives and some of these hoodlums.