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Makurdi: Residents blame ‘Yahoo Boys’ as house rent, transport fare triple

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Benue State capital, Makurdi, is rapidly competing with other big cities in Nigeria like the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the commercial hub of Nigeria, Lagos, and the oil epicenter of Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, especially in the areas of high cost of accommodation and transportation.

Nobody is surprised about the high cost of living in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt because those cities play host to the headquarters of multinational and international companies, foreign expatriates, many of the richest personalities in Africa, serve as headquarters of federal establishments, the Federal Executive Council, the Judiciary, the National Assembly, Military, Police and other paramilitary establishments.

However, none of such can be pointed out as the reason for the humongous charges for accommodation and transportation by landlords and transporters, respectively, in Makurdi town, Benue State.

Benue is a poor agrarian and civil servants state situated in the North Central (Middle Belt) of Nigeria where persistent attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other unknown gunmen have ravaged many rural communities across the 23 LGAs.

This has resulted in wanton killings, destructions, kidnappings and displacement of thousands of inhabitants who are now seeking refuge in Makurdi town and other cities.

Insecurity in rural communities of the state could be the main factor behind the surging cost of accommodation as people now feel safe in Makurdi, causing overpopulation.

Another factor is the rapid movement into Makurdi by internet racketeers, also known as Yahoo Boys, who are ever ready to pay any amount for accommodation, as they are being driven away from other big cities by security agencies and are regrouping in Makurdi.

Areas with the most expensive accommodation in Makurdi metropolis include: New GRA, Judge’s Quarters, High Level and Owner Occupiers.

In an interview with Emmanuel Iorbeeh, a tenant at Owner Occupiers, he said he would soon abandon his current accommodation and relocate elsewhere in Makurdi as he could no longer afford the current house rent.

“I have been paying N350,000 for a 2-bedroom flat, but shockingly, my landlord came around a week ago and increased the rent to N400,000. Where does he want me to get such money from”, Mr Iorbeeh asked.

Also baring his mind on the skyrocketing house rent in Makurdi, Mr Lazarus Iorapuu of Judge’s Quarters Makurdi said a one-bedroom flat goes for N400,000 while 2-bedroom goes between N550,000 – N600,000 in his area.

“I am currently occupying a 2-bedroom flat for N550,000. How much am I getting monthly to afford the house rent if not by God’s grace”, Iorapuu said.

Also speaking, a tenant at the New GRA, Mr Innocent Abellegagh, condemned landlords for the outrageous charges for accommodation, urging the Gov Hyacinth Alia-led state government to call them to order.

“Are we in rich cities like Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt where there is enough money to pay for everything?

“I am staying in a one-bedroom flat for N350,000, apart from food, light, water and other bills. This is cruelty taken too far by landlords”, Mr Abellegagh angrily said.

Mr Oche Sunday, a tenant at High Level Makurdi castigated landlords for the humongous house rent.

“This is man’s Inhumanity to man, for how long should we continue to exploit ourselves like this?

“I am paying N300,000 for a one-bedroom flat. What is even killing us more is the outrageous charges by Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDCO).

“I spend N20,000 monthly to recharge my pre-paid meter and it doesn’t take me for a month. This is becoming unbearable for me”, Oche narrated.

When asked what could be responsible for the skyrocketing house rent in Makurdi, Mr Oche attributed it to the surge in population in Makurdi due to insecurity in the rural communities of the state.

Mr Ogwuche Adanu of Welfare Quarters also condemned the high cost of living in Makurdi, blaming the activities of Internet Racketeers (Yahoo Boys) as one of the factors.

“We were paying between N100,000 – N200,000 before those Yahoo guys came around and messed up everything.

“Many landlords are now charging N350,000 and above for a one-bedroom flat”, Mr Adanu lamented.

A visit by DAILY POST correspondent to other parts of Makurdi such as- Mobile Barrack, Modern Market area, Kowa, Bonko, Ijaha Agbough, Iniongun, Wadata, Achussah, Kwararafa, Old GRA, Gyado Villa, Akpehe, Wurukum, North Bank showed that house rent has also increased astronomically in those areas, compounding the suffering of residents.

Meanwhile, transportation fare by motorcycle riders, also known as Okada, has also gone up in the state capital.

For example, they now charge between N400 – N500 for a trip from Wadata to High Level against the N200 charged a few weeks ago.

From Wadata to Wurukum is between N500 – N700 against N250 charged in the past.

From High Level to North Bank is now between N500 – N800, Wadata to Mobilize Barrack is N500, Wadata to Federal Medical Centre Apir is now N1,500, while from Iniongun to Gyado Villa is N1000.

An Okada rider, Amodu Onuminya, attributed the rapid rise in transport fares to the high cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) commonly known as petrol.

“Shortly before the inauguration of Tinubu’s government in 2023, we were buying fuel at N220 per litre. The Tinubu government came and it increased to N720.

“But as I am talking to you, we are buying fuel in Makurdi at N1000 per litre, meaning that 10 liters is N10,000.

“How do we get our fuel money if we don’t charge a high transport fare?” Amodu said in anger.

Corroborating his claim, another Okada rider, Mr Ojotu Oyiyole also gave the high cost of fuel as the main reason behind the rising transport fare in Makurdi.

“It is not peculiar to Makurdi alone, transport fare has gone up everywhere because of the high cost of petrol.

“I am even contemplating to leave my Okada business because I don’t normally meet up after buying fuel, what kind of business is that?” Ojotu asked.