EVD: Why Are Nigerian Borders Still Wide Open?

President Good luck Jonathan has taken a number of policy decisions that are pro-people. One typical example is the recent introduction of the victims' of insurgency support endowment fund headed by the immensely rich and resourceful General Theophilus Danjuma [rtd] which as we were told surpassed its initial funding expectation because of the generosity of some good Nigerians and statesmen/women who have passionate concern about the plight of the victims of the genocidal massacres carried out by the armed Islamic insurgents in the North East over the last three years.

But seriously, most Nigerians are aghast regarding the decision of the President to let the sleeping [but troubling] dog lie in the ministry of interior where Mr. Abba Moro from Benue state holds sway as the minister in charge. He it was who supervised the national tragedy that saw the untimely killings in series of job stampedes of over a dozen Nigerian youth who were lured into buying recruitment forms far and above the number of vacant positions available at the Nigeria Immigration Service. By the way Nigeria is the only country in the entire civilized World that auctions recruitment forms into such strategic national security outfits such as the Nigerian Immigration Service [NIS]. Can any one imagine that Britain could sell recruitment forms into its Border control Agency our equivalence of Nigerian Immigration Service and with the ever flowing illegal immigrants struggling to gain entry into Britain will Britain not be submerged by rich illegal migrants who have the means to pay their way given that the officials who are in charge also paid their ways into the border agency?

Many months after this national massacre, the minister who superintended the official mess is still roaming the corridors of power because according to popular belief he was introduced to the current administration by no less a person than the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Mr. David Mark who ranks as one of the most loyal members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Senator Mark is also very close to the highest echelons of political power in the country and therefore can be said to be a power broker in this dispensation.

But day after day, facts are emerging regarding why this man from Benue state [Abba Moro] who prefers to be called a comrade should not preside over as the Interior affairs minister.

With the threats of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease [EVD] which became pandemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, most Nigerians expected that the land and sea borders into Nigeria from these affected countries would have been closed even as the international airports are placed under the highest position of vigilance and flights from the affected nations banned from flying into Nigeria.

Unfortunately while a little effort towards checking the entry of more cases of the disease after it was brought in from Liberia is being made in the Aviation sector, the Ministry of Interior still insists [to the chagrin of right thinking Nigerians] that there was no need to shut our borders. The minister is dead wrong on this just as he was in the surreptitious role he allegedly played that occasioned the circumstances that led to the killing of many Nigerian youthful job seekers.

We must close our borders now unless the government is in a national suicidal mission in which case ordinary Nigerians should speak out now and demand that the needful measures be adopted to save Nigerians from mass slaughter by this strange and suspicious bio weaponry disease-EVD.

If small Cameroon can close its borders with Nigeria that has very minimal incidence of EVD why is the Nigerian interior minister insisting on allowing the borders open thereby further endangering millions of Nigerians? In the reports published on Monday August 18th 2014 following the fears of spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) through international air and seaports, including border land outposts of Nigerian Immigration Serives (NIS) in the Northeast sub-region of country, Cameroon has closed its borders with Nigeria and suspended all flights to and from Nigeria.

Cameroon, according to the NIS, has a border boundary of over 2, 000 kilometres in Borno, Adamawa, Taraba and Cross Rivers states in the South-South sub-region of Nigeria.

Information monitored from a special programme of the Hausa Service of British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC], the spokesman of Cameroon Foreign Affairs, Chiroumma Boukkari said the decision to close the borders with Nigeria has become inevitable, because of the fears of the ebola that spreads like wild fire in the West African sub-region.

Hear him: “This decision on border closure and suspension of all flights to and from Nigeria was to protect the lives of Cameroonian citizens living within and outside from contracting ebola, as Nigeria, our main trading partner in Africa had been facing since July 20, 2014 when Patrick Sawyer sneaked into the country aboard a flight with the deadly virus.”

He however further noted that the border closure and temporary suspension of flights to and from Nigeria will be for a minimum of one month. He also advised Cameroonian citizens to take the closure of borders and flight suspension seriously in protecting their lives and property.

Said he: “The border closures with our main trading partner will be lifted, as soon as Nigeria contains the spread of the deadly viral disease. We also urge all border security agencies of the two countries to be vigilant by complying with this border closures made yesterday (Saturday at the weekend) by the foreign office here in Ngaudore,” said Boukkari.

The affected border outposts in Borno state include, Kirawa, Duji, Mallam Fatori, Gamboru, Banki, Damba/Masara, Baga, Danbaure, Sigal and Jilbe, 145 kilometres northeast of Maiduguri, the state capital, according to the news report monitored by Nigerian news journalists from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

Now reading through this piece of information from our Eastern neighbors Cameroon will the interior minister of Nigeria still insist on letting every Dick, Tom and Harry into Nigeria even when it is a notorious fact that the necessary surveillance equipment for detecting cases of EVD are scarcely available in Nigeria?

Incidentally while I was busy on this piece my attention was drawn to the interview published in the Nigerian Daily Sun newspaper of Monday August 18th 2014 whereby the Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Services was quoted as stating that Nigeria has been able to identify and secure all the numerous porous international land and sea borders into Nigeria especially from the restive Chad, Niger and Cameroon through the North Eastern axis of terrorism.

This claim is coming barely six months after the same agency sensationally claimed that Nigeria has over 5000 porous borders. The reality is that public officials simply walk into media houses to make certain claims of achieving some landmarks but hardly find time to let independent verification of such claims and sadly the running and administration of both the independent media and the organized civil society community in Nigeria are so inefficient so much so that it will take some more effort on the side of lovers of Nigeria to truly make funding support available to independent and credible registered civil society and community/faith based organizations to embark on such ventures such as verifying these sorts of sensational claims coming from public office holders in Nigeria.

There is no how democracy can be sustained in Nigeria if independent voices are not motivated and encouraged through transparent mechanisms to undertake such patriotic objectives on behalf of the Nigerian populace. The principle of public accountability also supports independent verification of claims made on behalf of the public by Nigerian officials paid with tax payers' resources.

Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria; blogs @www.huriwa.blogspot.com; www.huriwa.org.

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Articles by Emmanuel Onwubiko