The significant effects of the Niger coup crisis are causing Nigerian communities along the Nigeria-Niger border to experience increasing uncertainty and dread.
The people’s lot has become one of sorrow and frustration as a result of the closed border and the disruption of essential services.
The situation is still dire as the misery brought on by the border shutdown has continued for weeks and months with no sign of stopping. Since the coup shook the nation a few weeks ago, supplies of food, water, and energy have run out, and unfettered trade in products and services has also ceased between residents of frontier areas.
In an interview with Arewa Voice, the Acting Village Head of Magama Community in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, Sani Abubakar, listed the multi-faceted nature of the crisis and its repercussions on border communities.
In the midst of the escalating political turmoil, Abubakar shared how the crisis had severely affected life in the community, particularly in terms of the scarcity and exorbitant prices of essential goods imported from across the border.
Food items like rice and spaghetti, which were once affordable, have since witnessed substantial price hikes, putting a strain on household budgets.
Abubakar said that a bag of rice that used to cost around N31,000 now goes for N45,000.
He pointed out that, apart from the high cost, securing such products has become a daunting task due to their scarcity and restricted access.
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Despite these difficulties, the borderline communities have so far avoided widespread unrest as cases of violence and displacement are unheard of.
For the time being, their predicaments remain unabated, with economic strain rather than overt conflict. The economic toll extends beyond inflated prices, however.
The Magama Market in Jibia, known for its bustling activity, remains eerily quiet, reflecting strained cross-border relations.
He noted that Nigerien traders, who were once a common sight in the market, have dwindled due to the complexities of the border situation. Similarly, Nigerians crossing the border to conduct transactions face bullying and hefty fines, particularly those using motorcycles.
This has led some to resort to illegal routes, exacerbating the cost of living and creating a pressing hunger crisis.
Abubakar’s concerns are echoed by other residents who highlighted the bond between the border communities of Nigeria and Niger before the coup.
The Magajin Zandam, Ambassador Gidado Suleiman Farfaru, emphasizes the entwined social fabric that binds these border communities while pointing out how the crisis has severely distorted the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Niger. He continues, “The people living along the borders are just like fathers and mothers to each other.