Nigerian representatives at the ECOWAS Parliament have berated Members of Parliament from its West African neighbours over unfriendly criticisms over the decision of Nigeria to close its borders.
Reacting to questions and comments from the MPs who criticized the border closure, Hon. Idris Wase who leads the Nigerian delegation said that the critics of the closure were unfair to Nigeria.
Members of Parliament from other countries had criticized Nigeria for the border closure, accusing it of violating ECOWAS Protocol, adding that Nigeria should not stop playing its big brother role.
However, according to Wase who is the First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, he stressed that many of the countries that are complaining had been violation of ECOWAS protocol for many years.
“We have a protocol, the protocol is very clear: No country in the ECOWAS sub-region is allowed to export into another country what it does not produce.
“This means that by our own actions we want to be self-sufficient, we do not want to be dumping grounds, we want to encourage production.
“This is not acceptable to Nigeria and I believe that as good citizens and as MPs, we should encourage our citizens to be productive.
“The population we have should not just be a number in size, it should be number that can be helpful to the nation of Africa and to the world.
Wase who is also the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives informed the Parliament that the border closure was mainly for security reasons not economic.
He said that the fight against insecurity had been hampered by the porous borders and the complicity of neighbouring countries from where arms were being shipped into Nigeria.
He expressed displeasure at particular comments by some MPs who criticized Nigeria over delay in payment of its community levy.
On contribution to ECOWAS, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria has contributed over $700 million to ECOWAS in the last 12 years, an amount that is more the contributions of all other countries put together except Ghana.
“Nigeria has paid its dues, we have been there for our neighbours, but sadly by the comments of some of our colleagues here these countries are not being fair to us.
“From the close of these borders, Nigeria has started seeing some changes in its security. These borders have not just been used for the purpose of importing goods.
“From the day we closed our borders, Nigeria has now started seeing peace. I want to confirm to the World that even the so-called insurgency has now stopped.
“This is because the same border is where the arms are coming through, they will package rice but inside it they would put arms and bring into Nigeria.
“No country would support that. If we do that to you I don’t think you would accept it.
“Even the human trafficking that is taking place, that is the common route. If Nigeria goes into disarray, I don’t think West Africa can contain it,” he said.
Throwing more light on the matter, Hon. Ibrahim Sadiq concurred that many neighbouring countries had been violating ECOWAS [protocol
He corroborated that since the closure of the borders that the level of dangerous incursion by Boko Haram has dropped drastically.
De described as unfair the situation where some countries take advantage of Nigeria and pepetrate actions that sabotage the economy of Nigeria.
“Republic of Benin has 11 million population, but you cannot believe it, Benin Republic is the 5th largest importer of rice in the World. Where is that rice going to.
“In other words, that rice is coming to Africa’s largest market which is Nigeria.
“If the purpose of our coming together is to encourage local production to feed our local markets and compete favourably, then what is happening now is against that protocol.
“This issue is clear, we do not need to be sentimental about it,” he said.
He stressed that Nigeria was not the only country that has closed its border over security issues, saying that Rwanda and Kenya had closed their borders in the past over security.
He stressed that the borders had not been shut but were only closed to certain items, stressing that if neighbouring nations do not assist Nigeria then the drill will be intensified.
NAN reports that the issue of border closure has dominated deliberation at the Parliament from the opening Day with Parliament Speaker Moustapha Cisse Lo calling for the borders to be reopened.