Banditry: North-Central, N’West plunge into N902bn debt, poor revenue persists

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At least 77 percent of both North-Central and North-West states struggle with low revenue, poor foreign investments and huge debt profiles amid rising incidences of banditry, according to findings by the media.

Analysis done by the media showed that states battling banditry are Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Sokoto and Kaduna.

However, there are 13 states in total for North-Central and North-West, excluding the Federal Capital Territory in the North-Central.

This means that only 10 out of the 13 states were covered in our analysis, which was about 76.92 percent of the total states.

A cursory analysis of internally generated revenue in the states showed a relatively poor performance, compared to other states of the federation.

In the first quarter of 2021, the states earned N43.39bn as internally generated revenue, which was only about 34.24 percent of the IGR of Lagos State for the same period.

By the first quarter of 2023, the states increased the total IGR slightly to N55.51bn, which was only about 30.85 percent of the IGR of Lagos State for the same period.

However, Sokoto was excluded from our IGR calculation due to the lack of data for Q1 2023.

A breakdown showed that in the first quarter of 2023, Zamfara State generated only N4.28bn in IGR. This was a sharp contrast to figures generated by other states in the country such as Delta (N40.51bn), Kwara (N18.48bn), Edo (N18.84bn), and Anambra (N13.03bn).

Last year, the Zamfara State House of Assembly reduced the budget presented to the House by the former Governor Bello Matawalle due to low internally generated revenue caused by the insecurity situation in the state.

A statement by the Director-General, Press Affairs and Public Relations of the House, Mustafa Kaura, said the budget was trimmed down from the initial N126.7bn to N117. 5bn.

This year, the state is targeting N25.55bn in projected IGR earnings. The N4.28 recorded in Q1 reflects 16 percent of the targeted IGR for the year.

With four quarters in a year, it is presumed that states should have generated one-quarter (25 percent) of their projected revenue in each quarter.

From the available data, many states in the North-West and North-Central fell short of the 25 percent revenue projection for the first quarter.

For example, despite generating N17.97bn in Q1, Kaduna State could only manage 20.13 percent of its projected IGR, having targeted an annual revenue of N89.2bn and a quarterly figure of N22.32bn.

Niger State, which set its sight on a quarterly IGR of N5.84bn, could only manage 15 percent of its target (N3.04bn).

The state has perennially been plagued by poor IGR generation, a development which prompted former governor, Abubakar Bello, to explore different initiatives in a bid to boost its locally tapped revenue.

Also joining Zamfara, Niger, and Kaduna in low IGR generation are Katsina (N3.22bn), Jigawa (N4.55bn) while Kebbi and Nasarawa each generated N3.85bn in the first quarter of the year.

An analysis by the media showed that the states have a budget shortfall of 26.37 percent (N19.86bn) as they only earned about N55.51bn from the target revenue of N75.37bn in Q1 2023.

Many of the affected states, due to their low IGR, have been dubbed as states that cannot survive without federal allocations.

Also, it was observed that while the states raised their IGR by N12.12bn between Q1 2021 and Q1 2023, they borrowed N148.42bn domestically within the same period.

This means that they borrowed over 12 times more than they earned within a two-year period.

Their total domestic debt (including Sokoto) rose from N754.2bn in Q1 2021 to N902.62bn in the same quarter this year.

Many analysts have attributed the low IGR generation to widespread insecurity that has greatly hampered commercial activities in the affected states.

Only last month, the Northern Emancipation Network groaned over the return of insecurity in Zamfara State, describing it as uncontrollable.

A statement by NEN’s Secretary-General, Sulaiman Abbah, said in spite of the previous government’s efforts to curtail insecurity, the situation in the state was deteriorating.

The group called on President Bola Tinubu and the governor of the state, Lawal Dare, to work for the security of the people who elected them into office.

‘No foreign investments’

At least 60 percent of both North-Central and North-West states did not attract any foreign investments in two years due to the rising cases of banditry.

Analysis done by the media showed that states battling banditry are Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Sokoto and Kaduna.

However, there are 13 states in total for North-Central and North-West, excluding the Federal Capital Territory in the North-Central.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that out of 10 states with cases of banditry, only four attracted foreign investments between the first quarter of 2021 and Q1 2023.

This means that out of the 10 states, only 40 percent of them attracted foreign investments within the review period.

The states that attracted foreign investments include Katsina, Niger, Plateau, and Kano.

However, STRINGNEWS observed that the investments attracted by these states were significantly low.

A breakdown showed that in Q1 2021, only Kano attracted foreign investment of about $2.40m, while the other nine states did not.

By Q2 2021, all the 10 states did not attract any form of foreign investment, while in Q3 2021, only Kano attracted about $0.15m, which was a significant decline from the Q1 figure.

Also, in Q4 2021, none of the 10 states had any record of capital importation.

The situation was similar in 2022 as only Katsina ($0.70m) and Plateau ($0.04m) recorded capital importation for 2022, and this was only in Q1 of 2022.

From Q2 – Q4 2022, none of the 10 states attracted any foreign investments.

However, by Q1 2023, only Niger attracted capital importation of $1.50m, while the nine others did not.

STRINGNEWS also observed that there was a decline of 37.50 percent between what was recorded in Q1 2021 and Q1 2023.

In total, the four states had capital importation of $4.79m in two years.

Worsening banditry

Despite several measures taken by both the state and the federal government to end banditry activities, the issue is worsening as bandits continue to kidnap and kill innocent people.

In Zamfara State, checks by STRINGNEWS have shown that the bandits are becoming more stronger by the day and have currently invaded almost all the 14 local government areas of the state.

The bandits who now move freely in large numbers on motorcycles have issued a strong warning to the farmers particularly those in the rural areas that there will be no farming activities this year unless the state government reconciles with them.

At the time of filing this report, more than 70 percent of farmlands are currently abandoned by farmers in the state due to fear of bandits attacks.

Many farmers who spoke to STRINGNEWS have expressed worries that they will not be able to farm this year, considering the insecurity challenges affecting the state.

One of the farmers, Musa Garba who is a resident of Dansadau town of Maru local government area, said he used to get over 100 bags of rice, and 50 bags of millet every year, lamenting that he did not plant any crop this farming season due to fear of the bandits who are always going round the farmlands to kidnap or kill farmers.

He said, “I used to get enough food to feed my family and even sell some bags to buy other commodities. But in the last two years, I stopped going to farm”.

Another farmer, Abubakar Dauda also from Dansadau town in the Maru Local Government Area, narrated that the lingering banditry activity in the area was worrisome and dangerous which really put fear to farmers who have lost hope in this year’s farming season.

He explained that the rainy season had already started but people could not sacrifice their lives to go for the usual farming activities because the bandits would instantly kill any farmer they saw in the farmlands.

Another farmer, Sani Musa, said he was able to plant some crops this year thinking that, the present administration under the leadership of Governor Dauda Lawal would do something urgent on security lamenting however that, the bandits have completely destroyed the crops.

He called on both the state and federal governments to deploy adequate troops in some areas so as to enable farmers to return to their farms.

Another farmer Garba Ibrahim from the Shinkafi Local Government Area said he was no longer thinking of how to go home and go back to his usual farming in this farming season.

He stated that the consistent attacks by bandits that killed most of their people and burned down most parts of their village made those who escaped the attacks to reside in Gusau the state capital to look for survival.

Also speaking, another farmer, Malam Umar, said his farmlands were seized by bandits two years ago and no effort was made by the security agents to retrieve the farms.

He however expressed optimism that with the recent deployment of soldiers of Operation Hadarin Daji in Mada and Wonaka areas, the bandits would soon be forced to move into the forest areas. This according to him could provide opportunities for some farmers who own lands not far from the town to access them.

Speaking to journalists in his office, the Secretary to Zamfara State Government, Alhaji Abubakar Nakwada, said, Governor Dauda Lawal had assured that, his administration would do everything humanly possible to make sure that farmers go to their farms in this farming season.

Nakwada stressed that the governor had made adequate arrangements with the security agents so that the bandits would be dealt with in order to ensure adequate security in the state.

He however maintained that Zamfara State Government would not negotiate with the bandits no matter the pressure.

Also, farmers in Nasarawa State lamented that the issue of banditry had stopped many of them from going to their farmlands.

The farmers, who were victims of attacks in Keana and Obi local government areas of the state, expressed deep concern over the persistent attacks on their communities by yet-to-be-identified gunmen.

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