Seven states in dire straits, economic losses over border closure.

• Perishable foods worth N40b lost in three weeks
• Rice price soar from N30,000 to N55,000 per 50kg
• Border closure splits couples, families
• Reject war option against Niger, stakeholders say in final push

Ripple effects of economic sanctions on Niger Republic are rocking at least seven Nigerian states bordering the south of Niger. In the third week of the political and economic tension, about 8.5 million Nigerians living in border towns and communities have continued to count their losses running into over N40 billion .

They said since the Federal Government closed the border on August 3, perishable goods like onions, tomatoes, pepper, potatoes, and livestock are being lost, just as trade worth about $226.34 million is at risk of collapse.

Also, some marital relationships are being threatened because couples that engaged in cross-border trading before the border closure have not been able to return to their various homes.

Recall that Economic Communities of West African State (ECOWAS) Head of States had severed trade relationship with Niger, following a military coup led by General Abdlourahamane Tchiani that truncated democracy and sacked Mohammed Bazoum as the president of the country.

Seven states including Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno shared boundaries with the francophone country, covering a 1,608 kilometres stretch.

Findings by The Guardian revealed that the states are losing an estimated sum of N13 billion weekly to the border closure to trade, farms, and markets shutdown.

Consequently, prices of locally produced rice and other products have appreciated in the border towns because smuggling and other cross-border trading have been halted, worsening economic conditions of residents.

A 50kg of local rice sold at N17,000 before border closure now goes for N30,000 while imported rice sold at N30,000, of the same kilogramme, now sells at N55,000, necessitating an increase in demand for local rice.

Besides rice, Nigeria depends on the route for edible fruit and nuts, peel of citrus fruit or melons, raw hides and skins (other than fur skins) and leather, edible vegetables and certain roots and tuber, dairy produce; birds’ eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, and others.

In turn, Nigeria exports mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation, bituminous substances, tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes, salt, sulphur, plastering materials, lime, cement, plastics, fertilisers, and others that have been put to a halt.

The Chairman of Arewa Economic Forum (AEF), Ibrahim Dandakata, reckoned that the border closure is hurting Nigerians, noting that Northern Nigerian businessmen have over 2,000 containers of perishable goods that are stranded at the border.  

He said: “Financially, our members lose N13 billion per week at the Nigeria-Niger border. It has affected us very badly in the North. We Nigerians benefit more from the trade between Nigeria and Niger, and so we suffer more than the Nigeriens under the current border closure.”

To save the farmers and traders from further loss of resources, he suggested opening of the Maje border post between Nigeria and Benin Republic in Kebbi State, as an alternative route.

Dandakata said: “According to 2022 statistics, formal trade between the two countries accounts for $234 million (N171 billion), while informal trade is roughly estimated to be at $683 million (N515 billion), mostly in perishable commodities.”

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