Governor Kabir-Yusuf, Of Kano State Commends President Tinubu For Reopening Borders With Niger Republic 

By Stephen Ubanna

After several years of behind the scene maneuverings to reopen the Nigerian closed Land borders with the neighbouring Niger Republic, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state appears to have bowed to pressure from both official and unofficial sources to reopen the borders with the West African country to improve trade between the two countries.

Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, the Customs Comptroller General, may have set the stage for the reopening of the borders with Niger when he told the Nigerian President and the House of Representatives, late last year that not all the borders   in the country closed by the previous Administration of Muhammadu Buhari ostensibly to curtail smuggling and boost local food production to reduce prices in Nigerian markets    has been opened.

Until he  left office on May 29, 2023, the former Nigerian President was said to have only selected some strategic borders  across the country which were  reopened for business transactions leaving out other Land  border Areas  to the next Administration of Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, to handle.   

Signs that the over five year –old closed Land borders with the neighbouring Niger would be reopened   emerged last February when Ahmed Dangiwa, minister of Housing and Urban Development threatened Dangote Industries and other cement manufacturers in the country that’’ if they fail to bring down the cost of cement nationwide the government might be forced to open the borders for cement importation.

The minister was said to have made the cement manufacturers to understand that the government had stopped the importation of cement into the country ‘to empower the local manufacturers to produce more and sell at cheaper rate but the reverse was the case.

The border closure which appears to have impeded trade between the two West A countries may have become too worrisome that it was telling on the economy of the north western states of Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa,  Sokoto, Zamfara and  Kebbi, that residents of the border Communities had cried out for government intervention.

Gov. Kabbir-Yusuf Of Kano state, happy over Tinubu’s opening of Borders with Niger Republic for improved trade

Abba Kabbir –Yusuf, the New Nigeria People Party, NNPP, governor of Kano state, may have spoken the mind of the other  state governors in  the north western  region  when he appealed to the Nigerian President recently  to reopen the  Land  borders with Niger  ‘’to enhance  food security  in the country ’’.

 The Kano state governor may have taken advantage of the visit of Adeniyi, the Customs Comptroller General to the state, on Monday March 13, 2024,   to speak out his mind about the economic hardship being experienced by the people of the state, which he had blamed on the closure of the borders with Niger Republic by former president Muhammadu  buhari, which was said to have been made worse by  the   Financial and economic  as well as freeze  of all service  transactions , including utility services  including power supply sanctions  that was said to have been  imposed on the West African country by  the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the Economic of West African States, ECOWAS, last July over the military Coup that was said to have  ousted  a Constitutionally elected  President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26,2023 .

The  governor who could not  hide his feelings had commended Tinubu for taking the bold initiative  to  approve  the lifting  of Financial  and the economic sanctions imposed on the country  which had invariably reopened the borders with Niger that  stretch  over 1,500Km  covering the  Border  Communities  in the north western states of Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and the north central states of Kwara and Niger.

The ECOWAS Leaders were said to have also used the opportunity provided by  the  its extraordinary meeting  on February 24, 2024,  in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to lift economic  sanctions  against  Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, three other West African countries currently under the rule of the military junta. The three impoverished Sahel region countries were said to have withdrawn from the ECOWAS economic block in January 2024 and had planned to form a Confederation that could have threatened a broader West African integration. The ECOWAS Leaders may have read the handwriting on the wall that there they had to soften on the sanctions on the countries.  

 The Kano state governor had said that the Presidential directive to reopen the borders with Niger would go a long way to check inflation and cut rising food prices and building materials in the country.

There is no gain saying the fact that there numerous official border crossings between Nigeria and Niger Republic in the northern part of Nigeria. The main ones, according to the Nigerian Immigration Service. NIS, under the close watch of Mrs. Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju  ,  include Jibia, in Katsina state,  Kono -Illela, Sokoto state, Gaya-Kamba, Kebi , Dan-Issa-Katsina and Magaria-Mutum in Jigawa state.  

Adeniyi: CG, Customs, gave his words that President Tinubu will reopen Nigeria-Niger borders

Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, the Customs Comptroller General, may have known that the country may be sitting on a key of gunpowder going by the cries of residents of the Border Communities who had insisted that the Land borders with the neighbouring Niger must be reopened for Commercial activities to thrive in the north western region.

At a recent interactive session with residents of  Kongolam Border Community, in Maiadua Local Government Area of Kaduna state  on Saturday, March 9, 2024,  the people were said to have cried out that several businesses  had folded  off  in their community and its environs  due to the border closure. Resident of the Katsina Community were said to have made it clear to the Customs boss that the only way out to revive their businesses back is to open the borders with Niger for legitimate business activities to flourish between the two countries.

Many believe that the reopening of the Land borders between the two West African countries, will restore the collapsed businesses in the border communities and help to improve regional integration and collaboration, economic opportunities that will enable companies and entrepreneurs in the two West African countries to grow their markets and activities further.

There are indications that the reopening of the borders between the two countries by the Nigerian President would also facilitate cross-border movements as people would   move freely, that will enhance cultural exchange  and personal interactions  and combating smuggling as the two countries  would find the need ‘’to work together to effectively deal decisively with the smugglers as well as  encourage the  Authorities  of the two countries  to invest  in border infrastructure ,such as transportation and logistics  networks for their mutual  benefits.           

Adeniyi, the Customs helmsman may have gladdened the heart of the people that hopes of reopening the borders with Niger Republic has brightened as there had been an ongoing   consultations at the Local government, state and Federal levels including the Land border Communities.

Admitted that the closed borders will be opened by the Nigerian President soon, the Customs Comptroller General   noted that  the service will focus  this time around ‘’ on removing  the obstacles  that had been militating  against free trade between Nigeria and Niger,  in line with the Tinubu’s Administration  renewed hope agenda to foster economic  prosperity in the country.

As a prelude to ensuring free trade between the two  West African countries, the Customs  helmsman had said that the para-military security agency under his Leadership  ‘’will deploy  proactive  measures  to reduce the number  of checkpoints  along the  border  posts the states  and promote synergy  between  the Customs personnel and the traders.

 Vice President Kashim Shettima, who incidentally was a former governor of the north eastern state of Bono had said that there are 32 illegal smuggling routes around the Illela border Community in Sokoto state which may have been created by the smugglers due to the border closure to carry out their nefarious activities.

The Nigerian Vice President had revealed that in one Sunday, in the Caliphate state, 45 trucks loaded with maize were intercepted while making their way to the neighbouring country of Niger by Customs personnel on anti-smuggling operations.

To enhance regional integration, on Wednesday, March 14, 2024, the Nigerian President had reopened the Land and air borders with Niger, confirming what Adeniyi, the Customs Comptroller General had said that only the President has the prerogative to reopen the closed borders with Niger, amidst cheers from residents of the border Communities in Katsina, Sokoto and other parts of the north western geopolitical region.

President Tinubu’s decision to reopen the borders between Nigeria and the neighbouring Niger may have encouraged the Sokoto/Zamfara Command, Authorities to return the 15 trucks load of grains seized to its owners. 

 Abdullahi Abubakar, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs, DSC, and the Command spokesperson had said that the return of the confiscated smuggled food items at the border Communities under its jurisdictions to the owners was in compliance   with the Presidential directive   on the condition that ‘’the items would be sold in the Nigerian markets ostensibly to boost food sufficiency in the states’’.

 Compt. Kamal  Mohammed, the new Sokoto/Zamfara Command, Area Controller,  while handing over  the seized trucks load of grain at the Command’s Headquarters in Sokoto,  was said to have enjoined  the traders ‘’to ensure that the food items were not diverted to the neighbouring Niger republic  Markets  but sold in the  Nigerian markets.

The Customs Comptroller may have put fears in the minds of the traders when he declared that the Command, in collaboration with the Customs intelligence unit, CIU, and Joint Border Patrol Team, would monitor the sales of the grains in the Nigerian markets to ensure that they were not smuggled out of the country.  He has his reason. This is because’’ grains are under the country’s extant Export prohibition list’’. 

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