Between 2014 and 2016, Boko Haram insurgents had sacked Dikwa Night Market and the entire town several times, but there is gradual restoration of peace and security in the area, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
One of the most gladdening features of the return of peace and security in Dikwa, a community in Borno State troubled by a violent conflict, is the steady resuscitation of business, reminiscent of the good old days.
Dikwa town, located in Dikwa Local Government Area of the state, has been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, which ravaged the economy of not only the state but substantial sections of the North East region for 13 years.
Dikwa is an ancient town famous for a thriving night market due to its proximity to Chad, but it was one of the hundreds of communities sacked by the terror group between 2014 and 2016, along with the cherished night market.
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In 2016 alone, Dikwa town was sacked thrice by the insurgents before it was liberated by the Chadian forces under the Multinational Joint Taskforce combating insurgency in the area.
However, with the gradual restoration of peace and security and the return and resettlement of displaced persons in their home communities in 2019, the night market has breathed back to life.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the efforts of the Borno State Government have again produced enviable result in the ancient town as business now takes place unhindered.
Traders who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said they were happy to return to business at the market.
“I am very happy that the market has come back to life. I must say that my business flourishes during the night,” Babagana Maibiredi, who sells bread and other snacks said
Also, Rhoda Daniel, who operates an eatery joint at the market said, “We give thanks to God for the return of the night market. At the peak of the insurgency and when curfew was imposed, business was skeletal and did not take place at night, which the market is known for, but we thank God that we can do good business now.
“In 2021 alone, we fled the town three times and there was no business, let alone the night market. Now, there is peace within the town and we have settled down, so business is thriving in the market.
“As you can see, the uniform men are at peace; they come here to relax because the place is now as safe as Maiduguri.”
Sayinna Garba, who sells soft drinks told a similar success story, saying, “We thank God that we are now secure for business, and business is thriving. It surprises me that people come for soft drinks at night. I have three shops in different locations in Dikwa now.”
The story is not different with Maryam Bashir, an eatery operator. She said, “The only thing I can tell you is that I sell more at night and I make more money. I thank God, that’s all. Business booms at night because most people would go to farm in the day. Everyone in Dikwa is involved in farming activities, so night sales are better.
Our correspondent observed that commodities sold include fresh meat, fish, wears and provisions. There are also local tea sellers, popularly called “Maishayi”, bean cake sellers and even smoked fish sellers.
Banna Baba, a grain seller, appealed to the state government to assist traders with soft loans to further boost economic activities in the state.
“We wish to thank Governor Babagana Zulum for his numerous supports to vulnerable people affected by Boko Haram insurgency in the state. We are soliciting for soft loans to enhance our business. The transportation fare from Maiduguri is eating up our profits. It is hoped that he would consider our appeal so that we can expand our business.
Gajigo Mohammed, a meat seller, also expressed happiness at the return of the market, describing it as a good omen.
He said the return of the market had brought great relief to his colleagues.
“It is additional profit to us as most of our colleagues used to go during the day. We love it and it is our prayer that we would go back to those good old days, where you could be in the marketplace till 12am.
Malam Durnoma, a trader in the market, also said the return of the night market had helped in boosting economic activities in the Dikwa and its environs.
He said, “Most traders have returned to business since the markets reopened. And residents are happy now that they can stroll down to the markets and buy few things in the evenings without being harassed by the civilian JTF or soldiers.”
He commended Governor Zulum for his sincerity and commitment toward ending the Boko Haram menace in the state.
“Our governor and the Shehu of Dikwa deserve commendation for their efforts in the gradual return of peace in Borno. Shehu has always been with us. This is highly commendable.
Commenting on the new development, a public affairs analyst, Abubakar Mohammed Kareto, said small-scale farming in the area had increased following the restoration of normalcy to Dikwa through the combined efforts of the Borno State Government and the military. A number of recent initiatives have resulted in enormous accomplishments in commerce around Dikwa and its surroundings.
“Night business in the market is now possible due to decreased number of attacks. I think this would boost the economy of the state if all towns and villages could emulate Dikwa people. We don’t have reasons to depend on handouts from non-governmental organisations.
“Government should encourage locals to get farm inputs at affordable rates as it will restore small scale businesses at the grassroots.
“Although we still witness pockets of Boko Haram attacks, especially on farmlands, they are weakened. But there is still a chance that they might strike. I implore security forces, the community and government officials at all levels to keep up the efforts and remain watchful.
Although the market operates fully during the day, more customers troop to it at night; hence its name: Dikwa Night Market.