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Thursday, 13 March 2014

NEWS FEATURE

Impact of border closure between Nigeria & Cameroon

Only last week, the Nigerian Army announced that it had closed a section of Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, in an attempt to block the movement of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, which has increased its murderous attacks over the past few weeks in the North-East of the country. DAVID ADUGE-ANI (Abuja), MOHAMMED ISMAIL (Yola) and ANDREW OJIH (Jalingo) take a look at the effects of this closure on the lives of Nigerians living in the affected border towns.

The federal government of Nigeria, February 23, sealed its northern border with Cameroon in an effort to curtail the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents. LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the closure extends from Borno State by Lake Chad, to the southern end of Adamawa State, around halfway along Nigeria’s 1,500-mile border with Cameroon.

The Commandant 23 Armoured Brigade, Brigadier-General Rogers Ibe Nicholas, said that the closure is meant to effectively reduce the activities of the insurgents. “What I have done is to completely close the border. No one will enter and no one will leave Adamawa State. The measure has already reduced the inflow of criminals and terrorist elements to Nigeria,” Brigadier-General Rogers said.

According to the Nigerian Army, Boko Haram Islamists are carrying out attacks in the north-east of the country, hiding out in under populated regions of neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

However, apart from reducing the flow of Islamic insurgents, the closing of hundreds of kil-ometres along the border will affect businessmen and the regional population.
For instance, as the complete closure of the borders intensifies, business activities across the two borders have come to a standstill as businessmen operating within the borders lament-ed that the situation has a negative impact on their businesses.

Findings by LEADERSHIP Weekend further reviewed that there are many legal and illegal border routes between Nigeria and Cameroon, particularly in Ganye, Belel, Mubi, Madagali, Toungo of Adamawa and other crossing points.

In similar development, the closure of Nigeria’s land border with Cameroon has had nega-tive effects on the economies of the two countries in so many ways. For instance, the vol-ume of trade largely is about 80 per cent in favour of Nigeria. Most of the goods and ser-vices coming into Nigeria, 80-85 per cent come from Cameroon.
Also, the closure of Nigeria/Cameroon border has led to tighter security in Cameroon’s Far North Region due to the widening threat posed by Nigeria-based radical Islamist militia Boko Haram is stifling cross-border trade, hurting livelihoods and raising fear among civil-ians. Cameroon has stepped up security over the Boko Haram (BH) threat.
In November 2011, Nigeria shut its border with Cameroon, prompting Yaoundé to bolster security in the largely Muslim Far North Region, closed dozens of Koranic schools and hand-ed over suspected BH members to Nigeria.

The region also depends on inferior quality petrol locally known as 'zua-zua’ which is smug-gled in from Nigeria. Strict border controls have caused its price to rise.
Also, fertiliser imports have also ceased after the Nigerian authorities banned production and distribution over fears that BH was using fertiliser to make bombs.

One of the major business hubs between Adamawa and Cameroon which is River Benue bank was bereft of activities when LEADERSHIP correspondent visited the place to ascertain the plight of the businessmen who were affected by the border closure.

Our correspondent counted about six empty boats which would have all been loaded had the authorities did not shut down the borders while two more boats were half loaded and could not take off following the total closure of the two borders.

One of the boat operators at the bank of the river, Mallam Hassan Mikailu, lamented the situation saying that with the development, life has become very difficult for them and their dependants.

“With the development, all business activities have been totally grounded here and many families were affected negatively. You may note that the businesses here have multiplier effect which started from the businessmen whose goods are ferried across the borders down to those who load the boats and the captains of the boats.”

Mikailu added that for over two months now they could not pass through the borders follow-ing the border closure as a result of which the income of many families plummeted.
“For now majority of us are jobless with some that have skills in other spheres leaving the river banks while those of us that have no alternative have remained here hoping that soon-er than later the authorities will lift the ban.”

Mallam Auwal Sani, a loader at the river bank, similarly corroborated the submission of Mi-kailu and said that life has become brutish as many of them are only living on the mercies of good Samaritans for survival.

“I have lost my only source of income following the total closure of the borders. Before the closure of the border, I used to make between N3000 to N5000 daily, which I used to cater for my two wives and eight children. But life has now become very difficult as I am without an income.

“My children have since stopped going to school because I cannot cater for their transport fares as feeding has become a difficult task for me and family which makes it difficult for me to source additional transport fares for my children.”

Sani added that around this period, this place is always a beehive of activities as businesses always reach their climax this period of the year.
Also reports from Mubi Cattle Market indicated that the total closure of the borders has se-riously negated business activities as cattle business has come to its lowest ebb in many decades.

A man, Mallam Chubado Jauro, who deals in cattle at the Mubi International cattle market, lamented the situation saying that only God can save them from the current travails which resulted from the closure of the cattle market.
Jauro who spoke to our correspondent through phone said before the closure of the borders, businessmen used to bring cattle from Cameroon Republic, Chad Republic as well as from parts of Niger; but that has become a past event.

“Before the closure of the borders, a lot of economic activities take place here involving mil-lions if not billions of Naira on weekly basis.”
Jauro added that before the closure of the borders, between thirty to fifty trailer loads of cattle used to depart to the east but with the development, only few trailers depart to the eastern part of the country.

He added that other supplementary businesses have also suffered as a result of the closure of the border.

On his part, the director of press and public affairs to Governor Nyako who is also an indi-gene of Mubi while lamenting the situation said the closure is unnecessary as it only aggra-vates the worsening plight of the people just as he decried the persistent insurgent attacks despite the border closure.
“Due to the border closure the Lamido of Adamawa has to travel for about 36 hours while travelling to Cameroun Republic recently as he could not get access through the Fufore – Gurin border which is a stone’s throw from Yola.

“He has to go through this trouble because we were told that the border was closed even though attacks have not abated. I don’t know which border they are closing now. Has the border that has been closed reclosed or have they opened the border without informing us?” he queried.
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Editor's Mail

Love the article on Gaddafi
We must rise above tribalism & divide & rule of the colonialist who stole & looted our treasure & planted their puppets to lord it over us..they alone can decide on whosoever is performing & the one that is corrupt..but the most corrupt nations are the western countries that plunder the resources of other nations & make them poorer & aid the rulers to steal & keep such ill gotten wealth in their country..yemen,syria etc have killed more than gadhafi but its not A̷̷̴ good investment for the west(this is laughable)because oil is not in these countries..when obasanjo annihilated the odi people in rivers state, they looked away because its in their favour & interest..one day! Samosa Iyoha

Hello from
Johannesburg
I was amazed to find a website for Africans in Hungary.
Looks like you have quite a community there. Here in SA we have some three million Zimbabweans living in exile and not much sign of going home ... but in Hungary??? Hope to meet you on one of my trips to Europe; was in Steirmark Austria near the Hungarian border earlier this month. Every good wish for 2011. Geoff in Jo'burg

I'm impressed by
ANH work but...
Interesting interview...
I think from what have been said, the Nigerian embassy here seem to be more concern about its nationals than we are for ourselves. Our complete disregard for the laws of Hungary isn't going to help Nigeria's image or going to promote what the Embassy is trying to showcase. So if the journalists could zoom-in more focus on Nigerians living, working and studying here in Hungary than scrutinizing the embassy and its every move, i think it would be of tremendous help to the embassy serving its nationals better and create more awareness about where we live . Taking the issues of illicit drugs and forged documents as typical examples.. there are so many cases of Nigerians been involved. But i am yet to read of it in e.news. So i think if only you and your journalists could write more about it and follow up on the stories i think it will make our nationals more aware of what to expect. I wouldn't say i am not impressed with your work but you need to be more of a two way street rather than a one way street . Keep up the good work... Sylvia

My comment to the interview with his excellency Mr. Adedotun Adenrele Adepoju CDA a.i--

He is an intelligent man. He spoke well on the issues! Thanks to Mr Hakeem Babalola for the interview it contains some expedient information.. B.Ayo Adams click to read editor's mail
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