A section of the media yesterday reported of gunmen raiding villages in north-eastern Nigeria, killing 19 people.
The reports cited bandits riding on motorcycles attacking small communities, killing men, raping women and burning down houses. Additionally, the reports talk about stealing of cattle and kidnappings.
The spectre of gunmen or hoodlums choosing to live in bushes to attack citizens moving about and plying their trades, in improving lives and livelihoods, is becoming a sad dent of our history as Africans living in the sub-region.
In Nigeria and the Sahel, this phenomenon is almost becoming a culture, forcing people to flee production areas in the hinterlands into urban areas to do menial jobs.
In Burkina Faso, for instance, the dream of latching onto their success story in agriculture has been thwarted as the youth flee to Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to seek menial jobs.
Bandits attacking cargo caravans, while it is a feature of our informal economy and cross border trade, has assumed disturbing proportions since January this year, raising concerns about the possibility of political vigilantism in a region cited for peace and hard work.
For some time now, the media among several others have joined the crusade to expose hoodlums hiding along woodlots on highways into the northern regions of Ghana, and robbing and killing drivers and traders engaged in economic activity, as their contribution to the ECOWAS and Africa Free Trade Continental Area vision.
By the accounts, the acts of banditry has snuffed the lives of some five people, apart from those who escaped seriously wounded or robbed of over GHC500, 000 in the case of vegetable traders alone.
Yet, the ECOWAS dream is that because the sub-region abounds in labour, majority of whom are youth, political heads must take advantage of that bulging human resource potential to create jobs to enhance our development potential.
Our worry is the fact about virile youth dumping agriculture in the Upper East and attacking those moving into their territory to add impetus to the future of agriculture in the emerging Pwalugu Development Authority as the sub-region’s breadbasket.
And it is sad this is happening at a time Ghana is overtaking her neighbours in agriculture with the Upper East, which is blessed in numbers of irrigation facilities and has abundant potential to create jobs as the government’s initiatives unfold under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
As we would admit, night driving has been a matter of convenience since ages. It allows for moderate speed and also helps the engine to last. Additionally, it reduces the incidence of traffic that would ordinarily have been a source of worry to economic activity as heavy-duty trucks and long vehicles compete for space in urban areas.
Night driving is also convenient for crop and livestock dealers who expect to arrive on farm gates early to pick cargo and depart to their respective markets to distribute and return to ply their trade the next market day.
As we would admit, the contribution of trade and agriculture to national economic growth and national development is remarkable in these parts of the world.
That is because our population engaged in informal economy activity is over 75 per cent, with over 45 per cent in agriculture-related vocations.
Since the assumption of the governing New Patriotic Party into office, agriculture, which had slumped to below zero, has ignited to the point of attracting foodstuff buyers into Ghana through the very corridor that is brewing with acts of banditry.
Evidently, that is a threat to the AfCTA vision and we would therefore urge ECOWAS’ political actors to create systems and machinery to fight off these threats to food security and larger threat to the AfCFTA vision.