The shutdown of telecommunications networks in the first four weeks of September covered the whole of Zamfara state in order to control the activities of the bandits who had held the state ransom for many years.
Before the shutdown, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle had adopted and signed a decree as part of the strict measures aimed at restricting the activities of bandits and their collaborators.
Part of the measures included the closure of all state markets and the suspension of business activities in some popular joints in Gusau, the state capital and other strategic locations in the state, as well as the ban of the activities of black merchants and gasoline peddlers. because only motorists and motorcycles can buy gasoline at gas stations.
As locals fought against the strict measures, the closure of the Nigeria Communications Commission made matters worse and the statewide ban on the use of motorcycles from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. was enforced.
The measures had crippled business activities as a multitude of breadwinners could no longer afford to feed their families.
Although the decision to shut down the networks was well applauded by the locals, with full expectations of relief in the successful fight against the bandits,
he thwarted the use of GSM networks by bandits to negotiate ransoms with relatives of their captives, as well as the activities of informants.
The stance taken by the state government and security agencies on tackling banditry and kidnappings was clear and the right step to keep innocent lives and property safe, but more formidable strategies were needed to deter free movement and further attacks by criminals in certain areas.
For effective compliance, the state government has formed a powerful committee to enforce the decree.
Nevertheless, the restrictions had a negative impact on the prices of some commodities such as charcoal which was sold at N1,500 to N2,000 per bag now sold at N7,000, while a bag of rice which has was sold at N20,000 to N26,000 also quickly attracted an increase to N30,000.
State Attorney General and Justice Commissioner Lawyer Junaidu Aminu said the supply of food in the state should be allowed unimpeded, lamenting; âReports reaching me show that a bag of spaghetti sells for 1,500 naira in Dansadau district due to the scarcity of already restricted food items.
“I spoke to the task force committee and reminded them that there is no food import ban in the state, and I’m sure they would have taken that into consideration when of their operations, just as the main objective is to prevent the bandit movement from taking control of the state, and there is no doubt that the state government and the security agencies are succeeding â, a- he declared.
The president of the Northern Youth Assembly (NYA), Comrade Manir Haidara, however hailed the closure as a means of restricting the activities of the bandits, lamented the lukewarm attitude of the security guards and the refusal to confront the frontline bandits.
“Our concern was the refusal of the army and other security agents to enter the forest to ransack the bandit camps,” he added.
Another resident, Sani Musa Kotarkoshi, said shutting down networks and other strict measures had had no impact on the fight against the bandits.
According to him, he is worried about the absence of a military presence in certain notorious areas of bandits of the Mada, Lillo and Wanke axis.
Some members of the Communication Union in Zamfara recounted the huge losses suffered following the closure.
Members lamented how the four-week statewide shutdown had crippled their business operations.
The association’s state vice president, Comrade Nura Muhammad, said that during the period, members of the Communication Union were confused and suffered serious losses.
âEven our families had negative experiences with the shutdown of the network because famine hit them during the period,â he added.
According to him, the closure caused huge losses among the members of the association, as many of them left Gusau and settled in the neighboring states of Katsina, Sokoto and Zaria in Kaduna to earn a living.
He added that the association’s members lost millions of naira during the state’s shutdown.
“Although the decision was to find a lasting solution to the security problems facing the state, we must therefore commend the Zamfara state government and the federal government in this direction,” he said. .
Muhammad further called on the Tate government to help union members with additional capital to improve their businesses.
“I appeal to Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle to find the modalities of assistance to our members with subsidized loans to reinvigorate their business enterprises given the collapse experienced during the period,” he said. he adds.
Also in an interview, a trader, Abubakar Abubakar, described the period of closure as calamitous because it affected his capital.
“I used to get as much as N 5,000 a day in profit from my point of sale business and the supply I sell, but during the telecoms shutdown period even my capital is almost gone.” , did he declare.
In addition, the president, Joint Businesses Associations, Zamfara state branch, Alhaji Balan Bayis, who is also an official of the state chamber of commerce, described the suspension of the closure in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, as a welcome development as it would go a long way in stimulating the socio-economic development of the State and of all traders.
“Although we have experienced so many challenges in doing business during the telecommunications shutdown, we must commend Zamfara State and the Federal Government for their proactive measures to prevent the lingering insecurity issues facing the State. confronted, “he added.