Border closure: Dep Speaker Wase tackles ECOWAS lawmakers over criticism
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Ahmed Idris Wase on Wednesday expressed displeasure over comments by some members of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Parliament over the closure of the borders by Nigeria government, saying that the decision was not aimed at oppressing the neighbouring countries.
Speaking while responding to criticism of the border closure by Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, Hon Wase, who is Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament said feelers from Nigeria’s neighbours since the closure of the borders, as well as the comments of MPs in the Parliament, suggested sabotage in violation of the ECOWAS protocol on trade which states that “no country will allow what it does not produce to cross its borders into another country.”
The Deputy Speaker noted the socio-cultural similarities between Nigeria and her neighbours, saying that all within the sub-region were one and the same and should be each others’ brothers keepers.
According to him, “Nigeria have a lot in common with all the countries that we share borders with, there is no difference between the person living in Jibia in Katsina and the person living along the side of Niger, is it the religion or the language they speak or the culture and tradition?
“The same thing with a person leaving in border communities of Togo, where we have Yorubas, and in Cotonou, and I want to believe that we are one member nation. My colleagues, what has been dolled out to you may not be the correct perspective.
“First we have a protocol and the protocol is very clear, no country in the ECOWAS sub-region is allowed to export into another country what it does not produce, meaning, by our own actions, we want to be self-sufficient, we do not what to be dumping ground, we want to encourage local production.
“We cannot sustain this any longer at this time, a situation where the so-called superpowers of the world will produce, have it for a very long period of time, after a while, they use other African countries as conduits to take these things to our country. This is not acceptable to Nigeria and I believe as good citizens and MPs, we should encourage our people to become productive, the population we have in this country should not just be a number by size, but a number that can be helpful to the nations of Africa and to the world.”
He called for understanding regarding the border closure, saying that Nigeria that has been there for her neighbours should also count on the neighbours to secure her economy, as well territorial integrity, just as she won’t fold her arms and watch her efforts sabotaged.
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According to him, “Mr Speaker, my respected colleagues, I want to beg of you to bring understanding to this matter. Nigeria has paid its dues and it is still paying its dues. We have always been there for our neighbours in times of need. And I’m saddened by the comments of some of our colleagues here. We have been helping in virtually in every country in Africa, even by the contributions.
“You can’t compare the contribution of Nigeria with any other country. I think the reason why we are lagging has to do with our budgetary system, which we are now battling to change the narrative regarding the cycle from the period of undetermined time, to January to December. And the presenter did mention why the contribution was not paid.
“Mr Speaker my respected colleagues, Nigeria have started seeing some changes in terms of security. These borders have not just been used for the purpose of conduit and I’m happy one of the MPs from the countries that are complaining said they are packaging beer using our people, should you use our people for crime, should that be allowed, are we not supposed to be our brothers’ keepers?
“We have started developing agriculture in our country, we also want to be self-sufficient. Help us to stop these illegalities, because we will not allow people to cross our borders with the things that we can produce. Take advantage of this and use vehicles to patrol. The MP from our neighbour has confirmed to us that they are the ones using Nigerians to make money to the detriment of our own country
“By confirmation, we have had public hearings at the National Assembly, we were almost taking the same position you are taking, after the public hearing, we came to know that some of the rice that is being imported to Nigeria have an expiration period of more than five days, will you give these to your dogs in your country? I don’t think this is allowed.
“I don’t think we are here to encourage corruption, rather to encourage what we have agreed to do collectively, that is to say, no to all these. From the day we closed these borders, I want to say and confirm to the world that even the so called insurgents have now been extinct. Because it is the same border that the massive arms are coming through, yes we have customs, but they will package rice on the top, inside it, they will put arms and bring into our country. No country will support it.”