A significant milestone was yesterday reached in the advancement of peaceful coexistence between Nigeria and the neighbouring Republic of Niger with the signing of a bilateral agreement on cross-border transhumance between the Nigerian state of Katsina and its Maradi counterpart in the Republic of Niger.
The documents were signed by Governors Aminu Bello Masari and Malam Zakari Ousmanou on behalf of Katsina state and Maradi state respectively in Maradi on Tuesday 25th July, 2015 with the host nation’s Minister of Defence, Alhaji Kalla Mountari in attendance.
The pact, which is the culmination of nearly two-year long search for solution to the spate of regional and trans-border criminal activities by cattle rustlers and other outlaws, aims to foster and strengthen socio-economic activities between the two states, empasises on the free movement of people and animals in line with the ECOWAS charter, which proclaims that: “The effectiveness of the right of mobility of men and livestock is a prerequisite for peace and security in the ECOWAS area”.
In his remarks after the formal signing of the agreement, Governor Masari, who it was that initiated the all-out war against cattle rustling in the North West, said that it was the duty of the leadership to frontally confront anything and or anybody whose activities are a threat to farming and livestock in the region.
“As farming and livestock are the mainstay of the economic activities of our region, employing more than 70% of the people, it is incumbent on us the leaders to do whatever we can, sparing no resources in the process, to secure and ensure the safety of our people, their farmlands and livestock.
“Anything short of this amounts to a failure on our part to deliver on our mandate to and covenant with the people in line with the promises we made during our campaign.
“Any society which surbidinates agricultural activities and livestock to endeavours of transient nature and utility is surely courting failure, because such a society can neither feed its people nor earn the revenue to keep its wheel in perpetual movement”.
Governor Masari also lamented the incursion of some criminal elements from Nigeria who crossed into the Republic of Niger, only to come back into Nigeria in the guise of Boko Haram insurgents and cattle herders to perpetrate criminal activities in Katsina and neighbouring states in the North West.
“This criminal development has led to and encouraged the unfair, unjust and false profiling of a particular ethnic group dominant in the northern part of Nigeria as one behind every criminal act in the country”, he added.
He attributed the spate of insurgency and other criminal activities like kidnapping, armed robbery and cattle rustling to the proliferation of and, especially, the ease with which various form of firearms find their way into Nigeria from foreign troubled regions, urging for collective action to address the menace.
Givernor Masari also promised to replicate the accord with the Zinder, another neighbouring stste in the Republic of Niger.
In his remarks, Governor Malam Zakari Oumarou of Maradi recalled the commonality of culture and religion between the peoples of Katsina and Maradi states, saying that every effort must be made to strengthen the ties between Nigeria and the Republic of Niger.
“We must not allow the artificial boundary that separates our peoples to push us further away fron each other, as the both Nigeria and Niger are people sharing a common heritage”.
Lauding Governor Masari’s effort in arresting the scourge of cattle rustling in Katsina state, the Maradi Governor assured that his government was also doing its best to discourage criminal activies in his domain.
The Nigerien Minister of Defence, AlhajiKalla Mountari stated that his country had established a Military Battalion in Maradi in order to reinforce security between the Maradi/Katsina border of the two countries, assuring that his country will continue to persue avenues that will keep the common border secure.