Nigerien War: As deadlines expire, residents of border communities live in fear

 Border communities express worry over war threats


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NIGERIANS who live in border communities with the Republic of Niger have expressed worries over plans by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to declare war on Niger Republic over the recent coup there.

Most people interviewed in Kebbi State said even though if the war eventually happens, the state will not likely feel any negative impact.

Some people who are natives of towns and villages that share borders with Niger such as Dolekaina in Dandi Local Government Area, Bachama in Argungu Local Government Area and Kangiwa in Arewa Local Government Area spoke in unison against military action. They said the people in Niger are one family with them.

The people, who pleaded for anonymity, called on the Nigerian authorities to tread softly by not invading Niger.

They noted that Nigeria had enough crisis on its hands and any involvement in the Niger crisis would bring dangers to Nigeria, especially the North that has seven states bordering Niger.

Alhaji Usman Dolekaina, an indigene of Dolekaina town in Dandi Local Government Area, said: “You have been coming for one assignment or the other in this area. You have seen how interwoven we are. If a war breaks out, it means we shall be killing ourselves here. Allah forbid it.”

According to him, the Republic of Niger, by nature, is an extension of Nigeria and as such, “any war against Niger is a total war on the people of Northern Nigeria and this should be totally avoided.”

Alhaji Dolekaina explained: “Dolekaina is one of the border towns on the fringes of Niger Republic. There are two communities in Dolekaina town, namely, Dolekaina Nigeria and Dolekaina Niger. These two communities are difficult to identify by outsiders except by the people themselves as they shop in the same market on the Nigerian side.

“This is what we also have in Bachaka, Kangiwa and Yeldu, all these are villages in Argungu and Areawa local government areas and they all, including Dandi, fall under the Argungu Emirates. Therefore, a war by ECOWAS in Niger is a complete war on the Hausas of Northern Nigeria, because the Hausas form 69 per cent of the Nigerien population.”

A professor of History at the Federal University, Birnin-Kebbi, who would not want his name in print, also expressed the belief that any war against Niger Republic is a war on Northern Nigeria, which should not be allowed to happen.

The don also warned that President Bola Tinubu should not allow neo-colonialists to cajole him into declaring war on Niger Republic.

Although vehicular movement is restricted along the major routes leading to Niger from these fringes because of its nature, cross-border movement of the people of these areas continues unhindered.

In Zamfara State, a businessman, Alhaji Aliyu Tasiu, said in a chat with Saturday Tribune in Gusau that a declaration of war on Niger was uncalled for.

He said a few weeks after the coup, the country had already been slapped with severe sanctions on so many fronts and then warned that a declaration of war should not even be contemplated.

Also, a building engineer, Abdullahi Mohammed, explained that any war against Niger would be a waste of time, saying that the country is already in financial problems, as transactions have been blocked.

Mohammed added that the country is dependent on imports, especially from Nigeria, and that, too, has been blocked.

Another respondent, Alhaji Sanusi Mai Zinari, said ECOWAS should think of other ways of punishing Niger Republic and drop the idea of declaring war against the country.

“Niger Republic is already in problems over the coup. Niger people are brothers and supportive neighbours to Nigeria. Measures taken should not be allowed to affect both of us,” he said.

He said further that Nigeria may suffer considerably if the war begins, as many Nigeriens may rush into Nigeria as refugees and consequently add to the country’s burdens.

In Taraba State, an elder statesman, Chief John Mamma, appealed to President Tinubu and ECOWAS to choose the path of dialogue with the military junta in Niger Republic rather than war.

Chief Mamma said war would not affect Niger Republic alone but it would bring more economic hardship on Nigerians.

“War is not the best option against Niger’s military junta. War will badly affect Nigeria’s economy since Nigeria’s border-states will not be safe.

“I am on the same page with other Nigerians who are advising President Bola Tinubu and ECOWAS to choose the path of dialogue with the Niger military junta to restore democracy in the country rather than war and imposing economic sanctions on Niger.

A businessman in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Sadiq Musa, said if ECOWAS insists on invading Niger Republic, the action could see Nigeria get back into recession.

Musa said the northern region may be turned into a battlefield and the entire country may suffer a huge impact if ECOWAS engages in forceful return of democracy in Niger Republic.

He insisted that with Nigeria leading the war, the lean resources of the country would be depleted. The businessman urged the Nigerian government to focus on productive things.

CNG wants Tinubu to have a rethink

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has asked President Tinubu to reconsider his stand on border closure with Niger Republic and suspension of electricity supply to the country following the military coup in the country.

The CNG also opposed military action against Niger or any other West African or African nation by any regional or international community/institution.

A statement signed by the spokesman of CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, warned against escalation of the situation by the “unsolicited” intervention of the international community and other foreign interests.

CNG, in the statement, implored the military authorities in Niger and ECOWAS leadership to open doors for discussions “devoid of any hidden agenda or unnecessary preconditions for genuine dialogue.”

Source: Southsouthblog

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