West Africa: How Nigeriens in Nigeria Are Faring After Country's Exit From Ecowas

Niger Junta leader Abdourahamane Tiani and Burkinabe military leader Ibrahim Traoré.
17 February 2024

The exit of Niger Republic from the ECOWAS has continued to attract reactions from national and international circles. With a large number of Nigerien citizens in Nigeria, Daily Trust Saturday sought to find out how they are faring.

Last year, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali were suspended from ECOWAS due to military takeovers of their respective governments. Subsequently, they announced their withdrawal from the bloc. Since the suspension, Nigeria (which shares borders with Niger) has closed its borders with Niger Republic. A lot of Niger nationals residing/doing business in border towns in Nigeria are struggling to cope with the situation.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that businesses transacted by both countries through the land borders are suffering, with some gradually winding up.

Items and commodities being traded include rams, camels, dates, food stuff, textile materials and others.

With the border closure, all these items have become scarce and expensive. The ones that make it across the border are being smuggled through illegal ways, Daily Trust learnt.

Maigatari livestock market in Jigawa State is the largest animal market in the state and is located by the border. It is currently sealed off by security personnel from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Department of Security Services (DSS), among others.

Representative of the District Head of Maigatari, Yakubu Aminu, said while security has been intensified in ensuring non movement across the border, some people still find their way in.

"Honestly, the security personnel are up and doing. Our people keep complaining but they have to do their job. Secondly, you know it's an open border with large expanse of land (bush) to allow for illegal movement without the security operatives seeing them. So, people do come in through illegal ways and bring animals and other things for sale.

"However, all these are done on barefoot without using any vehicle. So, if you are used to bringing in truck load of commodities before, you will now have to bring in just a few.

"It's affecting businesses of course but we are still praying and hoping for the best."

Kano State is a destination and haven for businessmen and women who trade between Niger Republic and Nigeria. Kantin Kwari in particular is one place that benefits more.

While there are cries and calls from the business community, pressing concerns about the situation between ECOWAS and Niger, it is evident that both countries are affected as transportation of goods and commodities have gone down drastically.

Abdulmalik Hamza, who sells textile materials, bed sheets and mosquito nets at Kwari market said, "Immediately after the coup, everything stopped. Business was put on hold but thanks be to God, we have found drivers who take our goods through.

"In the first two weeks, movement and business were on standstill, but yesterday, even today, we sent goods to our customers in Niger Republic.

"I don't know how they are doing it and which way they are following but surely, we have vehicles going to Niger Republic now everyday.

The Public Relations Officer of Yan Awaki livestock market also revealed that the trade of animals between the two countries drastically reduced, which is affecting business a lot.

Yan Awaki animal market, located in Unguwa Uku area of Tarauni Local Government Area of Kano State, is one of the largest and most active livestock markets in the state. It also serves as a dispatch point to the southern and eastern parts of the country.

He said, "Because the borders are closed, the few animals here were brought through illegal routes. The bushes are too large to be completely manned by the security personnel.

"There are no trucks coming in because they can't go through those illegal routes. Our business is terribly affected but we are praying for things to return to normal."

A good number of Niger nationals have been residing in many towns in Plateau State for decades, engaging in various businesses, and maintaining peaceful relationships with their hosts and business associates, but the exit of Niger from ECOWAS hasn't been a positive development for many of them who spoke to Daily Trust in Jos, considering that they have a lot in common with Nigerians, especially those from Northern Nigeria.

While explaining the situation of Nigeriens after their country's exit from ECOWAS, the state chairman of the group, Alh. Ahmad Zakariya, said "Definitely, we are not happy with the development even though we have yet to see any change with the people we are transacting business with or living with. We are not being intimidated or harassed by anyone. We are praying that our country and the other countries that exited ECOWAS should return."

Muhammad Dalladi Sulaiman, a Nigerien, also said, "There haven't been reports of any problem between us and Nigerians following the exit of our country from ECOWAS, even though we cannot completely rule out the fact that there won't be any difficulty, especially with our movement at the borders. People around the borders are not finding it easy since after the military coup. But so far, we aren't having any problem in Plateau."

For Muhammad Usama, another Nigerien, "It is very unfortunate for our country to exit ECOWAS because we have been together for many years and our relationship has been cordial. So, this is not a welcome development. However, the exit has not affected us yet. Our business partners are still good to us. We are not finding it difficult sending or receiving materials. We hope that Nigeria and Niger will settle their differences in the nearest future."

AllAfrica publishes around 400 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.