The quest to secure Nigeria borders against smuggling, terrorism, banditry and other illicit activities received a boost over three years ago with the inauguration of the Border Drill patrol by the Nigeria Customs Service through the office of the National Security Adviser.
This event of August 20, 2019, was to boost food production, encourage indigenous manufacturers and accelerate economic diversification.
The North West, Sector 4 of the Border Drill operations has so far paid off. The insecurity in the Northwest include armed banditry, smuggling, Illegal migration, illicit drug trafficking and proliferation of light weapons, among others. Neighbouring countries have failed to observe Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS protocol on transborder trade.
Nigeria had on the altar of trade facilitation among nations exposed her citizens and economy to sabotage, illicit drugs, arms and ammunition are allowed easy passage or goods that should have paid 35 per cent duty rate allowed at 5 per cent, the nation had lost huge revenue and is confronted with all sorts of security challenges.
However, following this illicit trade has dropped since the commencement of the Partial Border closure. This was attainable because the increase in manpower and working tools from the participating agencies made it possible for rigorous patrol of the porous borders.
This sent fear down the spines of smugglers with some of them re-routing their cargoes to seaports raising revenue from such commands.
The successes recorded so far in taming Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping were due to strengthening the Border Drill. The Sector 4, Jigawa state Babura border and others of this operation came to relevance. About 90 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons used for terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria today came through borders in Sector 4.
No doubt, Sector 4 of the Border Drill Patrol team are living up to expectation. Mr Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), had during his visit to the North-west, eulogised the team. He said the ongoing operation to secure Nigeria’s borders was as important as the fight against Boko Haram and other insecurity challenges.
The Customs Boss added that another reason for the operation was to check the influx of unknown people into the country. Ali called on officers of Sector 4 to sustain the successes, adding that “security is like a puzzle, if you miss a link then you’re in a dilemma.”
Sector 4, especially in Jigawa state, already made positive impacts in their operations. The joint border security exercise has saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security. It has also boosted food production, especially rice, tomatoes, maize, poultry, etc.
Today, Nigeria is fast attaining self-sufficiency in rice production, as the border drill has drastically reduced rice smuggling and improved rice production in the country, while millions of direct and indirect jobs have been created. It has saved huge foreign exchange on rice importation. Rice farmers in the country are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing.
Notwithstanding these achievements, Sector 4 of the Border Drill patrol are faced with many challenges – sponsored allegations by saboteurs, mostly from the border communities and even an insider war, ploy to paint a picture of incompetence among the officers of the sector.
We have the responsibility to save Nigeria from these unpatriotic individuals who are bent on destroying the successes of the Nigeria Customs with the operatives of the Border Drill. Government should not relent in its determination to rid Nigerian borders of these saboteurs and give the nation the serenity where all and sundry will continue to live peacefully.
Usman D. Shehu,
Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.