Industries in the North East of Nigeria are best described as “broken” going by the experience of the Executive Director (Micro Enterprise) of the Bank of Industry (BOI), Mrs. Toyin Adeniji.
Mrs. Adeniji told participants at a Roundtable North East Rehabilitation Fund Focus Group Session that the situation was a “national crisis”.
States in the North East, particularly Yobe, Borno and Adamawa, have industries in ruins as a result of the Boko Haran insurgency that started in 2009.
The Chairman of the Board of BOI, Alhaji Aliyu AbdulRahman Dikko, painted the ugly picture of the economic reality of the North East.
Alhaji Dikko said from 2009 to date, the region’s economy had lost about N1.66tn to the insurgency and violence.
Citing data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the BOI board chairman said 15 million people had been affected by the crisis in the region, 1.8 million displaced and 27, 000 killed from 2009.
He said several interventions to revive the broken and ailing industries and economy of the North East in general were laudable “but not enough” thereby necessitating the involvement of BOI.
Recall that in 2016, the Board of Directors of African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved a financing package comprising 1$50m loan, $100m loan and the EUR 5m Grant Facility to finance the Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Programme (IBSDLEIP) in support of Nigeria’s Emergency Transition, Recovery and Peace-building for North East states.
The President of AfDB, Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, said the economic recovery interventions were expected to empower youths and women through entrepreneurship, employment generation and tailored skills for labour market and livelihoods for vulnerable households.
Earlier, a $6.7billion plan of action was introduced by the Federal Government (FG) for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of the North East.
Alhaji Dikko said, “The Bank of Industry has embarked on an economic revival plan for the North East region. Our objective is to stem the spate of poverty and reduce the reliance of the indigenes on humanitarian aid.”
He revealed that in the last four years, the bank provided financial support amounting to N678bn ($2.4bn) to over two million enterprises in the country, creating over five million jobs. A major part of these jobs were created using the Trader-Moni model; which is an FG scheme targeted at micro-businesses, particularly petty traders.
He said, “We would leverage this model in the North East states, specifically those sub-regions where the most impact can be made.”
A Director in BOI, Alhaji Mustapha Bintube, announced that the Board of BOI approved a N2.5bn North East Intervention Fund to rebuild the industries and rejuvenate economic activities in the region.
Alhaji Bintube said the North East fund was designed as a base for kick-starting local commerce by providing access to credit, thereby empowering and re-establishing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and helping them regain their means of livelihoods.
He said, “The North East is blessed with a richness of culture and an abundance of natural resources and vegetation. However, despite once being a thriving agricultural and commercial nerve centre, the region is barely recognisable due to the effects of over a decade of insurgency.”
The BOI also unveiled the findings of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) conducted in the North East to discover what could be done to help businesses in the region to grow.
The findings revealed that 300,000 people were interviewed in 10 states and the result showed the daunting task ahead in rebuilding post-conflict communities such as the North East states, hence the need to address electricity challenges, poor network access and deplorable access roads.
FGDs also recommended that there was need to provide mobile telephones for operators of small businesses who were having problem with accessing micro credits.