Calls and internet services will be restored in Zamfara State as governor Bello Matawalle has declared the lifting of the state’s telecommunications suspension.
The governor made this announcement at the state congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Gusau.
According to Matawalle, these services are meant to be fully restored on Monday as the Nigerian Communication Communication (NCC) has been directed to do so.
With this announcement, Zamfara state government joins the Kaduna state government, which announced a few days ago that it would restore telecom services in its state.
“I want to announce today that we have taken the decision to lift the ban on telecommunications in the state. God willing, as from next Monday, we shall have that effect.”
Telecoms shutdown in Zamfara
Recall that the NCC on September 4 suspended telecommunication networks in the state to block information flow between bandits, kidnappers, and their collaborators in the state.
However, a month after, on October 4, the NCC lifted restored connection in Gusau, the Zamfara capital, while 13 local government areas in the state still remained without telecommunication services.
The lifting of the three months network suspension comes with joy and excitement, with Matawalle commending the residents for their resilience and patience.
He also assured residents that his government will continue to take the necessary steps required to maintain calm and safeguard their lives and property.
The decision to suspend the telecom ban in the state follows an assurance by the governor that banditry and kidnapping had been substantially suppressed within the period of the telecom shutdown.
“The decision was due to encouraging reports of successes achieved in the state from those stringent measures.” the governor added.
He also acknowledged that the security forces were still arresting and flushing out remnants of the bandits and their collaborators.
Zamfara wasn’t the only state that had suspended telecom activities, as services were also banned in parts of Katsina, and Sokoto states as part of measures to contain banditry in the northwestern states.
Kaduna state also had a similar suspension of telecom networks in parts of the state before announcing the lifting of the ban a few days ago.
Effects on economic activities
The initial planned shut down of telecoms activities in Zamfara state was supposed to last two weeks before lingering for as long as three months.
The administration extended the prohibition indefinitely in order to consolidate on security grounds and guarantee a complete crackdown on bandits in the state and surrounding towns.
According to residents, the crisis has brought the economy to a halt, with food costs going well above 100% for the few things that were accessible, and certain things were out of reach.
The state economy was not doing well prior to the shutdown, and it became worse within 3 months of the network shutdown.
In a report, residents disclosed that they were not getting access to the bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) because they were cash strapped.
“The ATMs are not dispensing money. The banks are closed because of the telecom shutdown. We are in a state of confusion. Yet, the bandits are still operating. “
Governor Metawalle has lauded the telecom shutdown as an efficient means of decapitating the bandits and criminals terrorising the state. Incidentally, 43 per cent of residents in the state think the security situation has improved since the shutdown directive according to a report by SB Morgan Intelligence.
However, the fight against bandits in the northwest is still on. There is therefore the worrying possibility that with telecom services fully restored, the resolve of the bandits could be refuelled. This could lead to the possibility of renewed attacks that are more coordinated.
The question therefore is; if this becomes the case, would the government resort to once against shut down telecom services? Has this shutting down become an integral strategy in fighting insecurity despite its overbearing economic consequences?
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