President Goodluck Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello
Nigeria and Niger Republic will immediately commence joint border patrols along some unspecified portions of the 930 miles border length between the two countries.
This is part of the agreement reached by the two countries Thursday as part of the efforts to curb the activities of the Islamic Fundamentalist group, Boko Haram in the North East of Nigeria.
Northern Nigeria States that share border with Niger Republic are Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi. Borno also shares borders with Chad and Cameroun while Kebbi shares border with Benin Republic.
In August when US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton met with President Goodluck Jonathan, the issue of monitoring the movement of goods, particularly weapons and explosive devices smuggled to the Islamic sect through the borders of Nigeria and Cameroon was part of their talk.
Then it was gathered that the US also offered to assist Nigeria to monitor in this regard.
A State Department official was quoted as saying: "We can help them (Nigeria) develop mechanisms for tracking and determining individuals who are likely to be engaged in supporting Boko Haram actively.
"This is a problem for Nigeria, but also Northern Nigeria borders Cameroon, it borders Niger."
A source told THISDAY then that Clinton, who met with the Nigerian service chiefs, expressed concern about the threat of the Boko Haram sect and how that could spread and undermine the security of neighbouring countries.
Both countries, on Thursday agreed to provide equipment and logistics, which will be put at the disposal of their National Boundary Commissions to ensure rapid completion of the re-demarcation of the Nigeria-Niger international boundary.
The agreement was reached Thursday at the end of the sixth session of the High Authority of the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Cooperation, held in Niamey, the capital of Republic of Niger.
President Jonathan while addressing the joint commission also revealed that the modus operandi for the joint border patrol exercise has been worked out explaining that what was left "is the provision of vehicles for the joint patrol teams.
Before adopting and signing the bilateral agreement on Defence and Security with his host, President Jonathan "admonished law enforcement agents, financial institutions and other relevant agencies of the countries to devise means and ways of stemming the activities of human and drug trafficking and business fraudsters.”
He said Nigeria will give quick attention to the agreement, "as the pains inflicted on our economy by the activities of these cross-border crimes have become very grave.”
President Jonathan assured that the country is willing to take adequate steps to support the completion of the international road projects under construction, construction of new ones as well as rehabilitation of the existing ones.
The President said that the feasibility studies for a rail line linking the two countries will commence 2013, as both leaders directed relevant authorities to create favourable conditions for the establishment of joint ventures between the entrepreneurs of both countries.
On the equitable sharing and utilization of the common water resources of both countries, the two heads of state observed that obstacles relating to the conveyance of water from dams located on both sides of the borderline were yet to be overcome.
It therefore instructed, "to enforce the spirit of understanding and cooperation and at the same time take appropriate measures for the effective release of water and execution/realization of hydro-agricultural schemes."
On the proposed rail link, he said his administration will lend its support to its realization. He noted that government shall take into account the ongoing works on the Kaura Namoda-Sokoto-Konni as well as the Kano-Magaria-Zinder rail link.
Besides, Jonathan said his administration is ready to support any airline that decides to start the direct fly between Nigeria and Niger which was abandon by Arik airline.
According to the communique issued at the end of the session Thursday, the two Heads of States expressed concern over the preponderance of terrorism in the region which necessitates the need to jointly tackle the situation which has become a big threat to peace and stability in the West African sub-region.
The communique was jointly signed by the Foreign Affairs ministers of two the countries. Dr. Nurudeen Muhammad, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs and Mr. Mohamed Bazoum, Senior Minister, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration and Nationals in Diaspora for Nigeria and Niger respectively.