By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
ON Monday this week, DAILY TRUST led with quotations from a Post Insurgency Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report, presented by the Borno State Government to the World Bank, based on the effect of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno, in the last seven years. It was a frightening report, which showed that Borno State lost 20,000 citizens and suffered property damaged worth $5.9billion (N1.9Trillion in today’s parallel market exchange rate).
The sum in question represents an “estimate of the value of public and private property damaged by the insurgents’ war in the state’s 27 local government areas”, as quoted by the newspaper. Of the 3, 232, 308 private houses in Borno, 956, 453, or 30% were destroyed by the insurgency, with Mobbar local government being worst hit, where 101, 085 0f 150, 585 private houses were destroyed. The report also noted that 5, 335 classrooms and other school buildings were destroyed, with Bama suffering the most, losing 519 classrooms and other school buildings. Schools were destroyed in 24 of the 27 local government areas.
In the same vein, Boko Haram destroyed 201 health centres, mostly primary health clinics, dispensaries and some General Hospitals. 1,630 water sources were also destroyed, such as motorised boreholes, solar powered boreholes and piped water schemes. 665 municipal buildings comprising ministry and LGA buildings; prisons; police stations and electricity offices were similarly vandalized.
Others included 726 distribution substations of 11 KV/415V and distribution lines in the 27 LGAs of Borno. Parks, game reserves, grazing reserves, green wall projects, orchards, ponds, river basins and lakes were also either poisoned or bombed, in addition to 470, 000 livestock that were either killed or stolen. While 20, 000 people were killed, majority of the two million internally displaced people, or those who took refuge in Niger, Chad and Cameroun, are mainly from Borno state. These are colossal figures of deaths, destruction and dislocations in communities that were very underdeveloped, even in the best of times. It is pursuit to a post insurgency development and rehabilitation as well as a peace building process, that this report has been prepared and presented to the World Bank and other development agencies, by the Borno state.
Long road to peace
The truth is that there is a very long road ahead, between the defeat of the insurgency, peace consolidation and the work that must be carried out to rehabilitate and reconstruct Borno in particular and the Northeast in general. There are issues in education and healthcare; water and sanitation; the rehabilitation of municipal buildings and the reconstruction of the thousands of private houses of people, as well as the re-planning and re-building of communities, villages and towns.
This is a process that must go together with the re-commencement of livelihood in agriculture; livestock; fishery; trading and in regeneration of community life in hundreds of locations that will be de-mined; while security must be restored as well as the provision of post-traumatic therapy for people, especially children, that will be re-integrated into communities, where schools must functions and teachers return to provide education. Surely, the Boko Haram insurgency has cost Borno and its people a lot! Nigeria and the world need to accelerate the reconstruction of these communities!
The Dangote phenomenon: How does Aliko manage these endeavours?
LAST Thursday, Forbes.com reported that Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, had made a bid for a majority stake in Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) Limited. The bid announcement was made by the Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who pointed out that Aliko Dangote was a key member of a consortium that included Dangote, the Kaduna and Kebbi states. They were applying to acquire majority stake in PAN, which is presently owned by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
El-Rufai told the media that: “we have submitted bids for the car-maker with Aliko Dangote on board together with BoI, Kebbi and Kaduna State, we are confident our bid will sail through”. There is no gainsaying the fact that if the PAN bid becomes successful, the possibilities for re-commencement of production and new jobs would be significantly enhanced. At the height of its production success in the 1980s, PAN produced 90, 000 cars annually, and there were remarkable linkages with other companies that supplied components for vehicles within the Nigerian economy, with remarkable ripples for prosperity as well as jobs.
The PAN bid was just one of the new investment initiatives that Aliko Dangote is exploring with potentials to redound positively to the benefit for the Nigerian economy. The new investment that will go into a re-activated PAN, will have positive effects on jobs creation and the local and national economy in general.
Similarly, there is increasing optimism that the 650, 000 bpd Dangote Refinery will come on stream in 2018 as planned. Its completion will help Nigeria solve the problems associated with the importation of refined petroleum products, which has become the heart of one of the greatest economic scandals in recent years in Nigeria. State-owned refineries were run down and became scenes of on-going sabotage and corrupt appropriation of endless sums of money in yearly “turn around maintenance”, that neither turned around for the better nor produced the requisite amounts of refined products for Nigerians. An elaborate structure of corruption developed around a lucrative project of importation of refined products, which left Africa’s largest oil producing country prostrate, unable to refine the requisite petroleum products to drive economic development. This is the conundrum that the Dangote refinery is likely to burst once and for all!
Aliko Dangote recently spoke about the refinery and promised that it would mean the end of importation petroleum products, as well as turning Nigeria into a net exporter of refined crude and also helping to end the importation of fertilizers: “Today, Nigeria imports 100% of its fertilizers, but when we finish, Nigeria will be the largest exporter of Urea and Ammonia in Africa. The refinery is the largest single line refinery in Africa and the world; and it will meet our total domestic requirement and save foreign exchange”.
The fertilizer plant is the largest in the world and that section alone will employ up to 2, 500 workers and the petrochemical plant will also employ up to 2, 500 workers. It is significant to add that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), in its world oil outlook for 2015, had pointed out that Dangote was responsible for nearly 50% of African refinery projects into the next five years. And the Nigerian central bank envisages that when all these projects are completed, Dangote was not only going to meet our domestic needs but would be a major exporter and could be supplying foreign exchange to the tune of $6billion annually to Nigeria’s coffers.
There are also very significant projects in rice production, with a vision to stem importation of staple food and commencement of local rice farming with the recently inaugurated Rice Outgrowers scheme in Hadejia, Jigawa state. He said Nigeria spends nearly $1.8billion annually on importing approximately 3.2million MT of rice; this was money that could make more meaningful social impacts on the country, if kept within the Nigerian economy.
And last week, he opened a new tomato-processing plant in Kano, which targets the production of 1, 200 metric tons per day. The company was the outcome of a report from a 2011 CBN study, which showed that it was cheaper to process tomato paste locally, rather than import from China, from where we take about 300, 000 tons a year, worth around $300million.
Rice and sugar plants
Dangote’s new Kano plant will produce more than 400, 000 tons annually, with most of the raw material coming from the farmers of Kano’s Kadawa valley. Similarly, Dangote is also working in sugar refining, with plans to become a leading integrated sugar producer, within the national sugar master plan; Dangote plans to produce 1.5million tons of sugar per annum. A sum of N180billion is being invested in four factories in Sokoto and Kebbi states, while 150, 000 hectares of land is being brought into the sugar project in Kogi, Kwara, Jigawa, Sokoto, Taraba and Kebbi states. These are very significant developments, because one of the criticisms that trailed Dangote’s endeavours in the past was how little of his investment used to go to states in Northern Nigeria.
But it is clear, that Dangote’s industrial development vision is not just regional or only national; he has gone continental, as his cement plants in various African countries have shown. Aliko Dangote is the best expression of what is now termed “Africapitalism”. An African entrepreneur that is investing in the development of the productive forces of the African continent and in the process, sweeping the carpets from under transnational capitalist enterprise, with such strategic investments that keep jobs on the African continent as well as helping to modernise and invigorate economic activities in various parts of Nigeria and Africa.
The Dangote Group now has investments in cement, flour milling, fruit canning, salt and sugar, refinery, roads construction and agriculture, to mention a few. Aliko Dangote made a remarkable transition from trading and importation of goods into industrialisation and production within the Nigerian economy and it is a remarkable testimony to the growth of his investments as well as the confidence that he has developed in that process of development, that he can also make those giant strides within Africa and even beyond our continent.
The Dangote Foundation is also putting a lot into social causes. Frankly, I keep wondering just where he gets that prodigious energy to keep churning out and tracking these multi-faceted and multi-billion dollar enterprises!
President Obama in Cuba
THERE is an alleged statement by Cuban revolutionary icon, Fidel Castro, making the rounds online. Fidel was said to have assured that: “the United States will come to talk to us when they have a black president and the world has a Latin American Pope”. It might just be apocryphal, but those vaunted conditions are here, and the Americans have re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, after over 50 years of blockage; attempted assassinations of revolutionary Cuban leaders and a failed invasion, at Bay of Pigs in the 1960s. This week, President Obama paid a visit to Cuba, where he confessed that a boycott from the years of the Cold War was no longer relevant in the contemporary world condition. President Obama was right and has also taken the right step, but the boycott must eventually be lifted to have normal relations with heroic Cuba. I think the Cuban Revolution has won a major victory with the developments of the past year. Cuba is located about 90miles from the United States, and it is good that a mutually beneficial relationship of equals is being opened between the two countries.