By Lateef Taiwo
A northern Nigeria economic group known as Arewa Economic Forum, AED, has declared that the financial loss occasioned by the closure of the Nigerien border with Nigeria is N13 billion on a weekly basis.
Northern Nigerian businessmen have over 2000 containers of perishable goods that are stranded due to the closure which was a consequence of the coup in Niger Republic.
Addressing journalists on the economic implications of the decisions taken so far, chairman of the forum, Ibrahim Dandakata, said: “According to 2022 statistics, formal trade between the two countries account for $234m (N171bn) while informal trade is roughly estimated to be at $683m (N515bn), mostly in perishable commodities.”
He continued: “With the closure of the border, the average weekly loss is about N13bn in value of trade”
The Nigerien population is about 25m. About 70% of the people live in towns with proximity to Nigeria.
“Nigeriens depend on Nigeria for most of the essential commodities they consume. Nigerian businesses also rely on transit points for importation from Niger Republic.”
He therefore urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other leaders of the subregion not to use the military option in view of the humanitarian crisis it will cause for both Nigeria and Niger Republic.
The AEF chairman also recommended that all ECOWAS sanctions should target the coup plotters who interrupted a democratically elected leader in Niger Republic and locked up President Mohammed Bazoum, saying the sanctions should not be made to punish innocent Nigeriens.
He particularly called on President Tinubu to do something urgently about the closed borders which is threatening the businesses of many northerners.
“Since the closure is on major borders between Niger and Nigeria i.e Jibia in Katsina, Illela in Sokoto and Maigatari in Jigawa, we strongly recommend the immediate reopening of Maje/Illo border station in Kebbi state which Nigerian traders use to access Benin Republic and Niger Republic,” he noted.
Also speaking at the press conference, a stakeholder in the northern business circle and member of the Forum, Hamza Sale Jibia, said the over 2000 containers stranded due to the border closure represent a massive threat to the livelihood of the businessmen involved.
He said the only option is the Maje/Illo border in Kebbi state which can be used to bring in the goods.
He added that the average value of a container is 20,000 to 70,000 dollars, adding that if 2000 containers of goods get destroyed, it would be a huge loss for the businessmen.
“We have 2000 containers stranded and they are all perishable goods. We are the therefore appealing to the Federal Government to open the Maje/Illo border and activate the necessary customs authorities for revenue generation as well,” he added.