By Mfon Offiong
From a layman’s point of view, logical reasoning disproves the position that Nigeria has an open northern border which poses significant threat to its trade and industries. This is because, the easiest and cheapest way to transport bulk cargo is by the sea. Therefore, countries with no sea ports can’t be considered as entry points of bulk cargo.
“Despite [Niger Republic] having no ocean or deep draft river ports, Niger does operate a ports authority. Niger relies on the port at Cotonou (Benin), and to a lesser degree Lomé (Togo), and Port Harcourt (Nigeria), as its main route to overseas trade.”
On Chad, “As a landlocked country, cargo travelling to and from Chad needs to be transported inland. [their] inland network stretches across Chad and connects [one] seamlessly with [their] ocean fleet via the port of Douala in Cameroon.”
On Cameroun, the topography makes smuggling through its borders difficult because one can’t drive trucks through the bush. Goods must therefore pass through the highway with official border crossings. The sea side of the border is well policed by gendarmes.
Benin republic on the other hand has the Port of Cotonou which accounts for 90% of their foreign trade and over 60% of the country’s GDP and a hub for sub-regional trade. In addition to serving landlocked Niger, Cotonou port is also used by Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Niger and Chad are landlocked countres, which ports do they have for massive shipments of goods to those countries and then to Nigeria? How then can the borders with such countries be used to transport huge cargoes of contraband goods to Nigeria?
Therefore, comparing our border with Benin which has a busy sea port, with our borders with Niger and Chad which are landlocked countries is like comparing grapes with apple. The claim that Nigeria has an open Northern border from where significant contraband goods pour into the country is fallacious. The challenges from our northern borders are more of security than economic.
–Offiong, a management consultant wrote in from Abuja