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Border Communities Suffer Economic Hardship as Their Businesses Collapse

Residents of borders communities are thrown into economic quagmire and untold hardship as their children continue to roam the streets in search of what to eat.

Once a lively and business community, residents of Babban Mutum border community have now turned to begging, while some resorted to illegal means to get their daily bead as the border in the Babura-Babban Mutum axis of Katsina and Jigawa states remains shut, exacerbating financial difficulties for residents in the vicinity.

People in this community plead with President Bola Tinubu to reopen the Babban Mutum border with Niger Republic as their only means of livelyhood is in the brink of collapse.

The residents made this plea on Wednesday during CITAD Radio’s visit to the communities.

They report that the border closure has severely impacted socio-economic activities, leading to widespread unemployment among youth and an increase in street begging as a means of survival amidst the challenges, while the insecurity situation has worsen since the directive of Niger Republic to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) block.

People from both sides of the border have resorted to smuggling goods and services using ox carts via illegal routes, often after paying hefty bribes to border security officials.

“We find ourselves in a deeply distressing predicament. Living in border areas, our local economy has crumbled. We lack basic resources, and each time we need to cross the border, we’re forced to pay bribes to security personnel. It’s a constant struggle to make ends meet,” lamented Nasiru, a resident of Babban Mutum community.

Another resident, who spoke to CITAD Radio, Aminu Sani lamented that, “Prior to the border closure, I traveled daily from Babban Mutum to Niger Republic to sell goods imported through the borders, including rice, sugar, spaghetti, and milk. I had a loyal customers from Kano and across Nigeria who relied on me for these products. However, life has become difficult since the closure. Even when some products manage to reach here, they are too costly for people to afford due to bribes.”

Another resident, Mr. John Marshall, whose shop is located in the markets inside Babban Mutum town made a call to Nigerian government, “We urge the Federal Government to reopen the border in Katsina. The closure has impoverished many of us. There’s no business: nothing comes in, nothing goes out. Now, many of us resort to selling yams and grains for survival, as the items we used to trade are no longer available.”

Many traders in Babura and Babban Mutum, who volunteered to speak after being assured of anonymity, alleged that they are not happy with the decision to close the border, which has left their youths jobless and terrified, while many resorted to drugs abuse causing animosity and despair between them and the neighboring Nigerien citizens.

“We were previously unaware of subsidies, we didn’t feel the impact of its removal, but now we felt it severely. In the past, we thought Nigeria had affordable and enough foodstuffs, but the reality is different. Due to the hardships we face, no one in this community can confidently claim to eat one square meal a day or entertain visitors.”

CITAD Radio learned that movements across borders and within communities are gradually halting, as socio-economic activities become paralyzed, with trade and commerce suffering the most.

The residents urged the federal government to reopen the borders closed by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari in the northern region and find amicable solution to the ECOWAS crisis in order to alleviate hardships faced by the residents.

The communities emphasized that the closure was causing indescribable hardship to them and fostering animosity between them and the neighboring Nigerien citizens.

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