In a significant development, the Nigerian House of Representatives has passed a resolution calling on the federal government to reopen the nation’s borders with Niger Republic. The lower legislative chamber specifically focused on reopening the borders of Maigatari, Mai’Aduwa, Kongwalam, and Illela. The motion, sponsored by Aliyu Madaki, a lawmaker from Kano, was adopted during a recent plenary session.
Border Closure and Economic Impact:
The border closures, which have been in place for a significant period, have had far-reaching economic and social consequences. According to Aliyu Madaki, the border towns of Maigatari in Jigawa, Kongwalam in Katsina, and Illela in Sokoto are crucial centers for large-scale international trade between Nigerians and neighboring countries such as Niger, Mali, Chad, Cameroon, and others. The closure has inflicted “indescribable hardships” on the people, leading to tension and resentment between Nigerian citizens and their Nigerien counterparts.
Rising Smuggling and Security Concerns:
Madaki further highlighted that the border closure has given rise to increased smuggling activities. The closure has led to a growing number of youth in affected communities becoming involved in smuggling, and in some instances, lured into terrorism and criminal activities. This situation raises significant concerns about worsening insecurity in Nigeria.
Promoting Peace and Cordial Relations:
The resolution to reopen these borders is aimed at promoting peaceful and cordial relations between Nigeria and its immediate neighbors. The lawmaker emphasized the importance of well-regulated cross-border markets and the positive impact it could have on trade relations. Additionally, reopening the borders is expected to help combat smuggling and trans-border crimes, which have had a negative impact on Nigeria’s economy and image.
Challenges to the Resolution:
During the deliberation, the lawmakers rejected an amendment to the motion that called for the reopening of some borders in the southern part of the country, which had been closed during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The adoption of this resolution comes in the context of broader discussions surrounding diplomatic options to resolve political crises in the country. The Senate and other stakeholders have advised President Bola Tinubu, the chairman of ECOWAS, to explore diplomatic avenues for conflict resolution.
Reopening the borders with Niger Republic is seen as a step toward economic recovery and stability for Nigeria, with a focus on nurturing peaceful relations with neighboring countries. However, this move will also require addressing the security challenges and potential consequences of increased trade across these borders.
Source: The Cable
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