FLASHBACK: Buhari Closed Border 1984-1986, Reopened When He Was Overthrown In A Coup

1 year ago Femi Olasunkanmi 0

We are very angry,” said Ahmadou Amadou, a Republic of the Niger trader who imports motorbikes for a living said.

“The business sector is wasting away.” If the border closure continues, then we will be ruined, he added. The last time this happened, back in the 1980s — and it lasted two years. And it was the same president, Muhammadu Buhari, who was responsible.

Buhari closed the borders shortly after he came to power. From April 1984 to February 1986 he kept them closed in response to the falling price of oil, a drop in exports and the smuggling of contraband.

In fact the border was only reopened after Buhari was toppled in a coup. The recent closure of the borders by the Nigeria federal government is to curb smuggling activities from neighbouring countries.

Amadou Oumarou, another Maradi, Niger resident, said Niger government should sit down at the table with Nigeria and negotiate a solution. Falling prices are hitting locally made products due to a lack of buyers in Nigeria, while the price of products imported from Nigeria is soaring, he said. Some traders are selling their rice cut-price just to get rid of their stock, said Chaibou Tchombiano, general secretary of Niger’s union representing traders, importers and exporters.

“We used to sell a 100-kilo (220-pound) sack of cowpeas for 18,500 CFA francs ($30, 27 euros). The price has fallen to 17,000, even 16,000 francs, since the border was closed,” said cereal trader Haruna Moussa. The impact of the closure is having a ripple effect reaching as far as the capital Niamey, 650 km away.

Nigeria Custom has vowed the border will remain closed until all neighbouring borders do something about the smuggling incidences from their country.

“Nothing crosses into Nigeria and nothing comes out. It’s hermetically sealed,” said Amadou Idi, sitting in a makeshift shelter to keep out of the rain, and reflecting on the downturn in his luck. “We twiddle our thumbs and pray.”

Idi’s job is a transiting agent — to get goods across the border to Nigeria at the Dan Issa frontier post in southeastern Niger. But he has been out of work since Nigeria dramatically closed its borders with its neighbours on August 20, declaring it wanted to put an end to chronic smuggling, according to AFP report.

Niger, which shares a 1,500-kilometre (900-mile) border with Nigeria, has been badly hit by the closure, along with Benin. Both nations are among the poorest in the world.

A long line of lorries from Niger and elsewhere in West Africa is stranded at Dan Issa. Some are full, some laden with goods. The drivers and their assistants sleep on the ground or in the cabins of their vehicles.

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