By Milcah Tanimu
A staggering toll of over 28,997 lives have been lost due to insecurity in Benue State, accompanied by the destruction of more than 54,476 houses and agricultural produce valued at over N21 billion, according to Dr. Vincent Gisaor, an academic in the Department of Economics at the Federal University, Wukari. He disclosed these grim statistics during a symposium organized by the Benue State government in Makurdi, focusing on the socio-economic development of the state and its future prospects.
Dr. Gisaor based his findings on a combination of data sources, including records from the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) spanning from 2010 to 2022, statistics from the Nigeria Police Force between 2009 and 2022, and a report from the Benue State Committee on Conflict Resolution and Peace Building in 2014. He stressed that the pervasive insecurity in the state has had devastating consequences, leading to the collapse of the rural economy and widespread impoverishment among the people.
The dire situation in Benue includes reported deaths of over 28,997 individuals in various recent insecurity incidents, with some deaths remaining unreported and ongoing. Dr. Gisaor highlighted the burning of five police stations and 33 markets in different parts of the state as part of the crisis, resulting in a suspension of law and order and the disruption of economic activities related to production, distribution, and trade. This, in turn, has exacerbated poverty and destitution among the people of Benue.
The destruction of lives, homes, crops, farms, trees, seeds, and seedlings has made it exceedingly challenging for affected individuals to rebuild their livelihoods. The complete collapse of farming and other economic activities has raised the specter of rural unemployment, food scarcity, and starvation in affected communities. Dr. Gisaor emphasized that farm produce losses alone are estimated to be over N21 billion, and over 54,476 houses have been reported as destroyed, excluding thatched houses.
In conclusion, Dr. Gisaor stressed that insecurity remains a major impediment to the economic growth and development of Benue State, calling for decisive measures to address this menace and set the state on a path toward recovery and progress.