Borno used to be one of the most convenient places to live in Nigeria: Security was tight, the neighbourhoods were nice, and the cost of living was attainable by the average working class citizen. Then in 2009, a jihadist militant organisation- Boko Haram- which was originally founded in 2002 in Maiduguri (the state capital) – unleashed terror on the people of the state. Endless stories of the sect bombing in the northeast of Nigeria filled the air.
They set internally Displaced Persons (IDP) up to accommodate the people whose homes and livestock have been destroyed. As the IDP camps boomed, Maiduguri became home for the staff of foreign and local governmental bodies, NGOs and humanitarians to cater for the lost and wounded.
The least these bodies could do was to offer accommodation for its workers in the capital and as it did this the real estate sector in Borno saw what appeared as an opportunity. These organisations disburse funds for suitable accommodations for its staff and expatriates in the urban parts of Maiduguri. However, the real estate agents and property owners alike inflated the prices of the properties to the bodies.
According to the executive director of the Intellectual Development Initiative (IDI) and lecturer at the University of Maiduguri Mr Muhammad Abdullahi, “the organisations spend a lot of money. They rent houses usually in millions, without bargaining.”
Unlike Lagos and Abuja, housing in Borno is way more affordable. But as years go by and the inflated pricing of accommodation continued, the inflated price became the actual price, which led to the current “Borno Housing Hike.” People have had to evacuate their homes to move to rural areas in Maiduguri with affordable rent. They have rented many of the homes in the urban areas out to the bodies that have the financial capacity to pay for the ‘new rent’ for the buildings.
According to the Daily Trust, a 2 bedroom flat in the urban part of Maiduguri used to go for N60,000-N100,000 for rent per year but that has transformed to N250,000-N400,000.
Isa Rabi a resident of Maiduguri says “prices are really high, really high,” she emphasises. “Those houses you get at a cheaper cost before are now very expensive… The NGO workers occupy all the hotels, all the houses around. It is rare to get a house for N80,000 now.” She adds that people have had to move to the rural parts of Maiduguri and still can’t afford to pay their rents. “There are people I know that have had to move and look for a smaller place to manage because they couldn’t cope anymore,” she says.
Mr Abdullahi also says “with the insecurity in the state, many people have added responsibilities asides paying rents. The displaced persons are not only in the IDP camps but also with relatives. Many businesses have gone into extinction, houses burnt down, assets lost and farms inaccessible.”
He continues by saying “people who cannot afford to eat or continue their businesses automatically cannot afford to pay house rents. They resort to resettlement. The only places they can go to are the relatively safer local government areas and survive with cheaper accommodation such as Konduga, Bama, Monguno and Mafa local government areas.”
The housing hikes in Borno continue to be one of the major problems for the residents. Many have resulted in cohabiting and squatting with relatives just to be sheltered. A lot have left the capital altogether as the cost of living continues to spike.
###CREDIT TO THE GUARDIAN NEWS###