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How Boko Haram is crippling businesses in the south-east

How Boko Haram is crippling businesses in the south-east
July 23
11:59 2014

Boko Haram is crippling business in the south-east of Nigeria, investigations have shown.

The Onitsha Main Market, which is one of the largest markets in West Africa, is the epicentre of trade in the Igbo-dominated southeast region.

The market draws a copious mélange of Igbo traders from southeastern states other than Anambra, where is it situated. And Onitsha, which is home to the market, is often touted as the commercial capital of West Africa.

Commerce at Onitsha is often defined in terms of buying and selling. Traders depend on daily sales to put food on the tables of their families and also support their extended families. Without trading, most of their families will starve.

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Trading at the Onitsha Main Market had been relatively good, as some traders disclosed to TheCable, until the advent of the fierce onslaught of Boko Haram in the north.

Ebuka Obiakor, who deals in home items, explained that most traders at the popular market  import goods from China, for onward sale to customers from Kano, Maiduguri, Jos, Bauchi and other states in the north.

“When we import goods from China, we sell them on wholesale to our customers from the north. Some of our customers in the north are Igbo traders who do their business there. A good number of them too are Hausa who come to buy from us in bulk,” Obiakor said.

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“We also give goods to some of them on credit and they pay us later. But now, all of them have disappeared! We do not see the Igbo traders or the Hausa traders anymore. Our business has been greatly affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

“The truth is we depend on traders in the north to buy our goods, because most customers here want to buy on a retail basis, which is not good for our business. Business is in a halt. Boko Haram is crippling our business. The group has displaced our customers.”

Another trader who shares Obiakor’s agony is Chike Abuodinma, a textile materials dealer.

Chike lamented that Boko Haram has grounded business in the area for about two years.

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“For two years, our business has been grounded. After the twin bomb blasts in Kano, which killed many Igbo traders, the remaining Igbo traders moved their business to Igbo land. They now compete with us for the very few customers,” he said.

“Look at Mubi in Adamawa, only 10 per cent of Igbo traders are there now. Before the crisis, our customers from Mubi patronised us very well. We were making good sales, but the repeated attacks by Boko Haram have killed the business of our Mubi customers,” he said.

“Some of them ran away from the state empty-handed. Boko Haram has killed our business. Our customers from Jos, Maiduguri and Adamawa have all stopped coming.”

Uche Cyril, a trader, reaffirmed the positions of Obiakor and Abuodinma.

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“Before Boko Haram started bombing everywhere in the north, customers from Chad, Cameroon and Kano used to patronise us. Now we do not see any of them. Hausa traders, in large numbers, used to patronise us. Today, we do not see the Hausa traders anymore. Some of them have been killed and their businesses destroyed,” he said, swearing in Igbo.

“Some of the Hausa traders, too, are afraid of coming into Igboland for fear of reprisals. They are afraid that we may attack them for what Boko Haram has done to our brothers.”

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Another trader, Obiora Igwebene, lamented that Boko Haram had detonated bombs on business in the south-east.

Emphatically, he said: “Boko Haram is not only attacking the north, it is also attacking the southeast, because business is dying as a result of the group’s activities.

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“Boko Haram has thrown bombs on our business. I think the effect of Boko Haram’s attacks is mostly felt in the south-east because it is a business region. The death of business in the  north also means the death of business in the south-east because our customers come from the north.

“And as the attacks continue, so will our business crumble,” Igwebene said in a low, tortured tone.

 

1 Comment

  1. Nayay
    Nayay July 24, 11:43

    This is food for thought for those who say the north is worthless, poor and backward. It’s a symbiotic relationship, as one cannot exist without the other. I appeal to our Igbo brothers to be man enough to admit responsibility for what Nigeria is today. The events of Jan 1966 brought Nigeria to this sorry state. The greed, avarice of their leaders at that time gave birth to the unfortunate events of that period. The earlier they situate the problem where it rightly belongs the better for our country

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