While ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray read the tough-sounding statement, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu sat in his chair, looking proud and happy. He may have been thinking about the 1,600-kilometer border that Nigeria shares with Niger, or he may not have.
ECOWAS countries decided to close their borders with Niger until the people who tried to start a coup in that country gave power back to Mohamed Bazoum, who is being held in prison.
“The following steps are to be taken right away: closing all land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger; stopping all business and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger.” On July 30, ECOWAS said
Nigeria, which is in charge of ECOWAS right now, not only agreed with the resolutions but was also supposed to be one of the main countries to carry them out.
From the tripoint with Benin in the west to the tripoint with Chad in the east, Nigeria’s border with Niger is 1,600 kilometers long. Official numbers say that more than 200,000 people live in these border towns.
Dankama, a rural town on the Nigerian side of the border, is one of these places. Residents, especially business transporters, are now complaining about how the closure of the border has hurt them.
In a conversation with Premium Times, Abdullahi Badamasi, a transporter, said that before the border was closed, their park was usually full of people coming and going in and out of their cars.
“Every day, 20 to 30 cars go back and forth between Dankama and Niger from here, but since the park closed, not even one car has left,” he said.
Mr. Badamasi, the vice chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Dankama, prayed for a quick solution to the situation in Niger. He said that residents of Dankama and Nigeriens are the same and live together, so they are all affected by what is going on in Niger.
Before the border was closed, Ibrahim Sani, another driver in Dankama, could make five to six trips to and from Niger. Since the border was closed, he can no longer do this.
“If this keeps going on, the result won’t be good.” As you can see, there are a lot of young people here who depend on the movement of these vehicles to eat,” he said.
On ECOWAS’s plan to send in the troops, Mr. Sani said that they don’t want a war because wars are never good things. He said that people who want war are the only ones who have never been in one.
“We haven’t even gone to war yet, and look at how things are. He asked, “What will happen to us if war breaks out?”
Sani Ado, a motorcyclist on the same road, said that their lives have gotten worse since the time when they had plenty.
“If you look around, you’ll see that all of our motorcycles are parked because there are no customers. On my good days, I could make seven trips and N20,000 in a day, but that has changed, and now we just sit around,” Mr. Ado said.
He also said, “Dankama and Niger are the same; there is no difference between us.”
Badamasi Mohammed, a truck driver from Maradi, Niger, is stuck in Katsina with goods for a customer because he can’t get to Jibiya, which is the most common border between Katsina and Niger.
“I just got here from Kano. He told Premium Times that the border was closed and that they didn’t want to see us anywhere near the border. He also said that the carriers were in trouble.
Cheikh Diop and Moustapha Niang, two Senegalese truck drivers whose trucks were also not allowed to cross the border, complained about having to spend 5000 CFA every day to feed their families because of the order.
They want to go to Senegal, but they can’t get there because they are stuck in Katsina.
On Monday, they said that the drivers had already been there for seven days.
Because of where Jibiya is and how close it is to Niger, trucks whose end destination is in Niger are also not allowed to enter the town.
Safulayi Saya, whose truck was parked along the road, was very upset. He said that the closed border hurts them and the people they help because they can’t get to Jibiya. This is because border control officials think that if the goods get into Jibiya, they will eventually get into Niger.
“There are goods in all of these trucks that are lined up here. Some of the goods have been soaked by water, and the driver will have to pay for any damage,” he said.
Mr. Saya, who looked very angry, said that all they want to do is go home to their families. “Is Jibiya in Nigeria or Niger?” he asked rhetorically, adding that the government should step in because if people can’t make money in a legal way, they might try to make money in an illegal way.
Yakubu Ibrahim agrees with Mr. Saya that truckers going to Jibiya should not be put in the same group as trucks going to Niger.
“We are bringing garri (cooked cassava) from Benue to Jibiya, but when we got here, we were told the road was closed. We don’t know what caused this. All we know is that there was a coup in Niger, and that has nothing to do with Nigeria,” he told this newspaper.
Mr. Ibrahim said that several drivers, including himself, have already lost money.
Ashiru Abdullahi, who is from Jibiya and drives a truck, is also in the storm.
“We are in a situation where the only thing we can do is ask Allah to save us from bad luck.”
He was also hauling garri, and he said he was in trouble because if the garri was piled up for three days, it would go bad and cause him to lose a lot of money.
The truckers asked the government to change its mind because the sanctions against Niger were hurting their ability to make a living.
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