By Chinenyeh Ozor
Prof. Jona Onuoha head of department (HOD) Political Science and director Centre for American Studies University of Nigeria, Nsukka has said that the closure of Nigeria border was a temporal measure and has reduced insecurity in the country due to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) free movement of persons, goods, and services.
ECOWAS protocol of free movement of persons permits all member states, goods and services to move freely within the ECOWAS sub-region in other to enhance economic development. Since ECOWAS came into place all roads lead to Nigeria, armed robbery, terrorism, banditry all manner criminality and instead of enhancing development, it affects the economic development of Nigeria.
Prof. Onuoha disclosed this in an interview with journalists at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, saying that there is need for Nigeria to review its economic policy towards ECOWAS, President Mohammed Bihari has to be commended for reviewing economic policy of ECOWAS protocol of free movement of persons since it has led to increasing in banditry, kidnap, movement of small arms and light weapons and made Nigeria insecure.
He said that the economic sabotage that follows in terms of importation of goods and services including rice which the country can produce,therefore it’s good for the border to be closed for a while to rethink about the cost-benefit analysis of ECOWAS protocol of free movement of persons, goods, and services, explaining that the challenges.associated with the closure are numerous as no country can survive without relationship with other countries in international relations.
The HOD noted that Nigeria has been playing big brother role as it intervenes on behalf of other countries which Nigeria has done since 1960 of her Independence and has not gained anything from the big brother role, paying salaries of other countries, hosting other countries in their communities and receive them as citizens but when Nigerian’s goes to other countries they are attached, harassed, booed and jailed, pointing out that in recent times there have been all kinds of conflicts in the country, kidnapping, banditry, cattle herdsmen attack which at times came from Neigbouring countries who cross border either porous or not porous and to cause conflict.
“ Some countries like Ghana, Benin Republic are protesting destroying Nigerian embassy because Nigerian closed its border and it hurts other countries adversely and since the border closure the number of kidnaps has reduced, banditry in the northeast of the country has reduced but the issue is all about national interest as people now produce local rice which the country now consumes instead of importing it from other countries of the world and that was the more reason federal government is not in hurry to open the border and after the period Nigeria will review the cost analysis of ECOWAS protocol of free movement of persons, goods, and services in the sub-region of West Africa which is not in the best interest of Nigeria”. he noted.
“Nigeria has not bleached any protocol by the border closure which is temporal to look inwards of her economic cost-benefit analysis and manage the domestic problems which will not be prolonged beyond a reasonable period of time. Nigerians who go Ghana are being harrassed, those in South Africa face xenophobic attack and we kept our borders open which has to lead the country to anywhere, it has led to destruction, death, free movement of small arms and light weapons into the country, crimes and criminality increased but the temporal closure of the border was to access whether the problem of the country is within or outside, Nigeria will take stock to restrategise to enhance economic development “ he stressed.
Prof. Onuoha said that closure was not to witch hunt anybody as its being circulated in some quarters that it was intended to sabotage the business in the South-South, southeast respectively, saying that within the few months of the closure herdsmen attacks, banditry and kidnap has reduced drastically in the country. Closure of the border is of national interest and not personal as some goods are trapped at the boarders but that does not mean that federal government is trying to witch hunt anybody but for economic well being of the country, adding that after the 2019 general elections, the country was in flames of all kinds crime, herdsmen crisis, kidnap and armed robbery but the few months of border closure everything has reduced, therefore President Buhari should be given chance to rule the country instead shouting wolf where no exists.
“ The closure Is temporal to check internal crisis and look for a way forward. The idea is laudable of the federal government’s decision. The federal government should put everything in place before January because Nigeria must be relating to the outside world on goods and services”
He said that South Africa must apologize to Nigeria for the xenophobic attack and pay compensation for those killed and goods destroyed within the period which will the only basis for reconciliation otherwise Nigeria should retaliate