Friday, 1 March 2013

Boko Haram Insurgency Affecting Businesses in Northern Nigeria

It has been revealed that the Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges in the north are taking a toll on commercial banking operations in the region. Making the disclosure at a news conference at the ongoing Kaduna Trade Fair, the Executive Director, North West Region of Unity Bank PLC, Alhaji Ismaila Galadanchi said that despite insecurity in the north, the bank would not relent in its effort to provide the necessary services to its customers. He confirmed that insecurity was one of the major challenges facing the bank at the moment.  

He disclosed that had the bank not participated in the fair, it would have failed in its duty as a financial house that needed to encourage investors to set up genuine businesses in the country, adding that with the rising insecurity, particularly in the urban areas, the bank was making frantic efforts to expand its rural base in order to check security challenges to some extent.

Bearing his mind against the backdrop of the recent kidnap of expatriates in Bauchi State, Galadanchi said that, “The issue of insecurity in the north is something we shouldn’t toy with. We at the same time believe that you have to believe in yourself and the only way you can show that is for you to come out and actively participate, and the intention of Unity Bank is to continue to engage and empower people”.

He also pointed out that, “We have to come to support genuine entrepreneurs and let the world know that Nigeria is still safe so that investors can come into the country.

He reiterated that recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido launched an empowerment scheme for Local Governments in Borno State in the understanding that the Local Governments can contribute to the development of the country. “This is the only bank that is predominately northern, all the 19 Northern States and all the Local Governments and individuals are shareholders of Unity Bank”, he said.

He added that, “We also have Rivers State, Edo, and we have Delta as part of our shareholders. Predominately, Unity Bank is owned by Northern Sates and we believe that we should not shy from our responsibility; that ours, is to continue to empower”.

Meanwhile, multiple bomb blasts believed to be carried out by the Boko Haram sect hit Maiduguri, the Borno State capital yesterday killing three soldiers and injuring unspecified numbers of soldiers and civilians.

Residents revealed that the first explosion occurred at about 12 noon at Bolori area, as suspected Boko Haram terrorists reportedly targeted a Joint Task Force (JTF) patrol vehicle. The sound from the blast was reported to have caused panic and in the resulting confusion, the attacked JTF vehicle swerved off the road and hit the perimeter fence of a private secondary school in the area.

Few hours later, another bomb went off in the Customs area along Gambouru Road. The two bombers who detonated the explosive device that killed the three soldiers and injured some civilians were said to pretend to be pushing a car laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and on sighting an oncoming JTF patrol vehicle ignited the explosives.

The eye witnesses confirmed that they saw bodies of soldiers being evacuated from the scene, but could not ascertain if the affected soldiers were dead. Another twin bomb went off at about 5.30pm less than an hour after the eight Governors of the newly formed All Progressive Congress (APC) left the State.

A dependable source at the Government House, Maiduguri said the security hierarchy has forewarned on attempts of the Boko Haram to disrupt the Meeting of the eight Governors, which was held at the Government House less than 15 kilometers away from the scene of the explosions.

In his reaction, the JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa disclosed that the bomb explosions were targeted at the JTF personnel on patrol but upheld that only one soldier was injured. “One civilian died, two civilians and a soldier were wounded”. Lt. Col. Sagir said.

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