BY YUNUSA BUNU, MARCH 23, 2022 | 04:59 PM
Horns, blaring sirens, thunderous heavy duty machineries—yes, welcome to Gomboru.
This WAS Gomboru, headquarters of Ngala Local Government Area, one of the busiest places in the North East, Nigeria.
Busy, it is then clear why it is economically vibrant.
‘I am shocked to learn that in the so-called urban area, those of you who work for the government toil for 30 days before getting paid N100, 000. That is so little,’ an unlettered displaced person from the commercial town told one of our editors in 2017, shortly after the town was overrun by Boko Haram.
That statement was profound—for it puts to context how much economically buoyant the town is.
In a 2016 interview with Abdulkarim Abdulrahman, a former caretaker chairman of the LGA, said 'on daily basis, an average of 50 trucks of livestock alone leave Gamboru to different parts of West African. Same goes for cowpea and fish, among others things.
'Goods and services were taken in and out of Gamboru to places like Chad, Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Sudan, Central African Republic and beyond. The attack on Gamboru was an attack on the economy of West Africa,' he emphasized.
Idris Etno Derby, former Chadian president attributed recession experienced in his country in 2016 to the activities of Boko Haram and disruption of business activities in Gomboru and other commercial parts of the state.
The terrorists’ activities brought down commerce, farming and fishing, which used to be the town’s most distinct characteristic.
It was followed by the displacement of the town in 2014, giving the terrorists a free-end to establish dominance over the town and roads linking to it. One of these roads was the Maiduguri – Gomboru – Dikwa Road, which links passengers to Mafa, Gomboru, Dikwa and Kala-Balge, among others. Until 2014, it was one of the largest commercial roads in the region with one of the biggest traffics.
It was however taken back by the Nigerian troops in 2016, in collaboration with Cameroonian military.
That was not the issue—the road linking to the town from Maiduguri is still not entirely safe. It was reopened for escort travels in 2018.
This was a major feat in the fight against Boko Haram; but it was not enough to immediately restore the town to its past glory as one of the economic nerve-centers of the West African sub-region.
The escort trip is unnecessarily delayed, and often restricted to certain number of vehicles or size of goods, which were not good for effective commercial activity.
This is why the recent reopening of the road on February 03, 2022 by the Nigerian Army in conjunction with Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno, to travels without escort was received with overwhelming joy by its sons and daughters, businesspeople and farmers alike.
To put this joy to perspective, a major businessman who had lost nearly a thousand trucks to the activities of the terrorists told our editor in a 2017 interview that should the town be reopened to business again, he was confident of recovering everything he had lost.
As such, to every average Gomboru man, the only measurable success of the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram is the full reopening of the international road for commercial and private users without any restrictions or security escorts.
On that day alone, our reporter lost count of the trucks, lorries and cars, loaded with goods ready to embark on their international trade.
Our reporter who went to the town after the reopening to assess the situation said an average of about 150 trucks and lorries, loaded with goods, use the road on daily basis.
The reopening of the road and many other international roads like the Maiduguri – Bama Roads, Maiduguri – Damasak Road, and Maiduguri – Baga Road, remains among the greatest successes achieved by the Nigerian military.
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