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Niger border closure collapses businesses

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By Abraham Adekunle

Northern communities affected as smuggling booms in the region.

Following the decision of the Federal Government to close all the country’s borders with Niger Republic due to the outcome of the military takeover of power in the Francophone country, commercial activities in border communities of Katsina, Sokoto, Borno, and Zamfara states have collapsed. News correspondents have reported that lines of trucks loaded with goods are still stranded at the border. However, despite the heavy presence of security operatives, smuggling thrives across illegal borders in the states.

For instance, in the Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, residents expressed anxiety and anger at the low level of trading. In Katsina State, aside from the Magamar-Jibia border post, another official border with the Niger Republic in Kwangolam (pronounced Kogolam) was equally closed. Economic activities at Magamar-Jibia, Kogolam Maiyardua, Baure, Dankama, and Birni Kuka, among others, were at the lowest. The majority of traders in these communities now trade in farm produce such as yams and grains.

Many traders have diverted to other meaningful endeavours.

Also at Maiyardua, many traders have shifted from transborder trading to livestock, especially cattle, goats, and poultry. The presence of a cattle market seems to be the saving grace for the transborder traders in the community as no exports and importation businesses are taking place along the Kwangolam border post again. Security operatives, including the policemen, officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and those of the Nigeria Immigration Service, still maintain their presence and checkpoints along the Kwangolam route.

In the same vein, security operatives at the Nigeria-Niger Republic border control station at Kwangolam could be said to be on vacation as no activity was going on there. If not for the presence of some residents, who engage in the car wash business a few meters away from the border post and the rope put across the road at the main gate of the border post, one could easily mistake the place for another part of the town.

Residents express their anger over the effects of the border closure.

During an interaction with reporters, residents expressed anger over the situation, saying the border closure had eroded their businesses and plunged them into penury. A number of residents spoke to reporters on the situation. One of them, forty-two-year-old Ado Usman, said that before the border closure in August, he used to come to Kwangolam every day from Zango. He was selling any product brought in through the borders. The products were mainly rice, sugar, spaghetti, and milk. His customers used to come from Kano and from all over Nigeria because they knew that once they were here, they would get the product.

But since the border closure, he said that life has not been easy. Even when some of the products find their way to the community, they are too expensive for people to buy. Because of this, many of the residents now eke out a living by assisting people to buy and sell livestock at the Maiyardua Kara market. Many others have even joined the okada business to survive, while some have relocated to other big cities like Lagos, Ibadan, and Port Harcourt where they have friends and relatives to survive.

Chairman of JPF says the closure has resulted in closed shops.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Jibia Peoples Forum, Alhaji Gide Dahiru, insisted that the border closure had brought hardships on the residents and the traders in the local government. He implored the Federal Government to find an amicable solution to the problem in the Niger Republic. He declared that as patriotic Nigerians, the forum supports every action taken by the Federal Government on the border closure. However, he said that the truth is that many people, especially traders, now focus on farm products. The closure has forced many to close shops as there are little to no products coming in.

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