By Saad Bashir
CHANGE is relative…as for me I have seen CHANGE.
Today I went to Eid ground with my two daughters without the fear of a bomb going off, this was not possible for the past 5 years, at least not where I live.
The aim of this write-up is not to stop anyone from criticising PMB or this government. Every Nigerian (even the ones in diaspora who didn’t vote) has the right to criticise the government on any sector he feels he is not satisfied with.
Having said that, in as much as this government has not done well economically in the past one year, I think it is wrong to BELITTLE their HUGE success against Boko Haram. (I hear people say, that is their ONLY achievement). Well, SECURITY of life and property is the basic building block of life, you can only complain of economic hardship if you are ALIVE. Not in your GRAVE, not in an IDP camp.
The main reason I voted for PMB was I believed at that moment he was the only one that can defeat BH and fight corruption. And with the way BH ravaged and devastated the North East, I never thought he could do it in less than 4 years (one term), PMB did it in one year.
Many people will not understand the importance of SECURITY until it is taken away from you. I’m from Adamawa State and live in Kano and have witnessed this first-hand. There is no household in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa that has not lost a family member, relative or a close friend to BH. My colleague in the office was trailed and shot at his doorstep in Kano, in front of his wife and children. A relative was shot erroneously by JTF, because he went out looking for his missing kids after curfew. BH were having a field day, slaughtering, raiding towns and kidnapping at will.
My Dad and sister both work in Adamawa State University in Mubi, a town BH took control. My sister was lucky she left a day before and my dad was on his way back to Mubi from Yola when he received a call that the town has been taken over by BH. They remained jobless for the next one year because the University had to be closed down. BH had taken over the whole of northern Adamawa and were just few kilometres from Yola, and it was suggested that the bridge leading to Yola be blown up to prevent them coming in, that was how bad it was. My family had started making plans to relocate to Kaduna. My uncle who had lived in Maiduguri for more than 30 years had to leave.
In Kano, we were all living in fear as to where the next bomb will go off. That Jan. 20, 2012 attack by BH in which they brought Kano to its knees is one of the most traumatized days of our lives. Our wives stopped going to market, our kids were scanned by metal detectors at their school gate before going in (imagine the trauma), people stopped going to motor parks and also stopped going to mosques and churches. All higher institutions in Kano were bombed at one point or another and had to be closed down for months. People stopped watching football matches in the popular “Gidan Kallo” because of bomb threats. We stopped going to office because telecom operators became a target, and a bomb went off in front of our gate, but luckily no one was hurt. Our WAY OF LIFE was completely taken away from us.
I was in Yola studying a Master’s degree in American University when there was total GSM blackout in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe for 6 months. Overnight we were transformed to Stone Age people, and this was compounded by a 6pm-6am curfew. Imagine being 6 hours without GSM service, well we went 6 months. All business activities slowed down or came to a halt. I had to travel hundreds of kilometres to nearby Taraba state to make phone calls to my wife and kids who were in Kano.
And yes, even economically the North East is better off now. I’ll give you some examples;
1. Many markets and shops that were closed have now fully gone back to business, It is reported in Kano that 200 trucks used to be loaded DAILY between Kwari, Sabon Gari and Singer markets and transported to Maiduguri for onward export to Chad, Cameroon and beyond. At the height of BH menace it became only 3 trucks. Now business has returned to normal.
2. More than 100 MTN BTS sites were burnt, and another 100 were off air because they depended on those that were burnt. Making a total of about 200 sites off air. That is just MTN alone; Airtel, Etisalat and Glo all suffered the same fate. Apart from the huge equipment loss, all operators were losing revenue because the sites were off air. Not to talk of the revenue they lost when the network was shut down in those 3 states. As of now more than 90% of those sites have been restored and generating revenue.
3. All banks in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were either burnt, robbed or closed down because of BH, except the ones in the state capitals. Of course that affected business activities hugely, salary earners have to travel to their state capital and spend the whole day queuing up at ATMs to withdraw their money. I’m not sure all bank branches are fully restored but most are operational now.
I can go on and on, just like Emir Sanusi II said, PMB was elected because of 3 things; security, corruption and economy. In the first two he has done very well, but in economy he needs help. Unfortunately he didn’t listen to the economic experts in his first year thinking his policies will help the poor, and the result was devastating. The good news is he has taken their advice now and re-traced his steps; we just need to be patient for the policies to start yielding results.
Allah (SWT) said “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]; But if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is severe”. Quran 14:7