Nigeria has remained flexible with Niger, in contrast to Benin’s firm stance. According to our information, since the start of the crisis, the Nigerian authorities have not really closed the borders leading to Niger. At least, after the first days, transporters quickly found secondary routes to bypass official borders. Because, unlike Benin which is separated from Niger by a natural barrier which is the river, the 1500 km of borders between Nigeria and Niger are very porous. Neither the authorities in Abuja, nor the governors of the states bordering Niger, have put in place any restrictive measures that could prevent traffic in both directions, as Benin has done. As a result, day and night, in full view of security force agents (customs officers, soldiers and police), users pass through secondary bypass routes. “Closing the borders only penalizes relations between Benin and Niger,” assures a Nigerian official we contacted. On Tuesday September 19, 2023, Nigerian President Ahmed Bola Tinubu indicated at the United Nations that he was negotiating with the junta in power in Niamey. “As for Niger,” he said, “we are negotiating with the military government.” As current President of ECOWAS, he has not put in place in his own country any system aimed at creating a watertight embargo on Niger. For the moment, Niamey receives a good part of its goods from the port of Lomé. Trucks transiting through Togo enter Burkina Faso where a security cordon is set up to take them to Niamey. Nigeriens thus learn to circumvent the blockade established at the Malanville border.
We can see that Benin is the only country that actually implements the ECOWAS decision aimed at placing an embargo on Niger. Burkina Faso and Mali, which do not apply this measure, have created with Niamey an Alliance of Sahel States (AES), a military institution intended to ensure mutual protection of the three States in the event of aggression. Meanwhile, Beninese traders and transporters whose goods and trucks are blocked in Malanville are ruined. The Port of Lomé benefits from the diversion of traffic resulting from the blockage of goods having to transit through the port of Cotonou. It remains to be seen whether faced with this reality, Benin will be able to create the conditions for opening borders, given that ultimately the Beninese suffer from the crisis more than others.
#Nigeria #closed #borders #Niger