President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday gave indication into the possibility of reopening Nigeria’s land borders “soon”.
The borders were shut on the orders of the President in August 2020 to curtail smuggling into Nigeria.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday, Buhari was quoted as saying: “Now that the message has sunk in with our neighbours, we are looking into reopening the borders as soon as possible.”
The statement was issued after the President held a closed-door meeting with the 36 state governors on the security challenges across the country.
He explained that the closure of the nation’s land borders was partly an attempt to control the smuggling of weapons and drugs.
Although state governors did not speak with journalists at the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Presidency issued a statement quoting Buhari as asking the state governors to work more with traditional rulers and community members to improve local intelligence gathering that will aid the work of security agencies.
Shehu said the President, who listened to presentations by a governor from each of the six geo-political zones on their specific security challenges, recalled that in the old order, communities identified newcomers and passed information to constituted authority.
“The sub-region is no longer safe, more so with the collapse of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and the cross border movement of weapons and criminals.
“Governors must work with traditional rulers. Try and work with traditional rulers to boost intelligence gathering,” Shehu quoted the President as saying.
He also said while giving an overview of the security situation in each of the zones, the President said his administration had done well in the North East and South-South, adding that the South-South situation was still worrisome.
“Every day I get situation reports about illegal refineries and the blowing up of pipelines. You must stop local rogues from sabotaging oil installations,” the President reportedly told the governors.
While addressing the issues of banditry and kidnapping reported in each of the geo-political zones, Buhari said “security is important and we must secure the whole country. We are thinking very hard on the issue of kidnapping. We will make it possible for the military to get to the bandits and kidnappers and eliminate them.’’
Buhari also assured the governors that the country’s military would continue to get the support they need to fight criminals.
“I am not going to the public to speak about the vehicles and equipment we have ordered. What I can say is that the military received armoured cars and other equipment and they are training the trainers. More of such equipment, including military aircraft will come in,” he said.