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FG Returns Electricity To Niger, Reopens Border, Lifts Sanctions

Niger

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, restored the supply of electricity to the Republic of Niger following the directive of President Bola Tinubu that Nigeria’s land and air borders with the neighbouring country be opened.

On August 3, 2023, The PUNCH reported that the power supply from Nigeria to the Republic of Niger was stopped as part of the sanctions against the neighbouring country by the Economic Community of West African States.

Earlier in August last year, ECOWAS, led by Tinubu, imposed sanctions on Niger following a coup that toppled the country’s President-elect, Mohamed Bazoum, in July 2023. Officers of the Niger Presidential Guard had on July 26, 2023, arrested Bazoum and declared him deposed.

In their reactions, ECOWAS leaders demanded the full restoration of constitutional order in Niger and declared Bazoum’s arrest and detention illegal.

In addition to a one-week ultimatum to restore constitutional order and the suspension of financial transactions, ECOWAS directed the freezing of “all service transactions, including energy transactions” with Niger.

Impeccable sources in Nigeria’s power sector last year confirmed the cutting of electricity to Niger, which was also reported by the AFP.

The international medium quoted a source close to the management of the Nigerien Electricity Company, popularly known as Nigelec, adding that the move was in line with the sanctions decided by ECOWAS.

But the Niger junta despite the sanctions has refused to release the deposed

leader and restore constitutional democracy in the country.

Rather the junta went ahead to form a new regional body together with Mali and Guniea, which are also being led by the military.

The sanctions were however lifted on February 24 by ECOWAS based on the resolutions of the extraordinary summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government chaired by Tinubu at the State House, Abuja.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, who announced the resolutions in a communiqué, said the decision was based on humanitarian considerations regarding Lent and the month of Ramadan.

However, he clarified that the regional bloc would maintain the status quo on political and targeted sanctions.

Tinubu, on Wednesday, directed the opening of Nigeria’s land and air borders with Niger.

He also directed the lifting of other sanctions against the country with immediate effect.

“President Tinubu has also approved the lifting of financial and economic sanctions against the Republic of Guinea,” read a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement was titled ‘Nigeria opens land and air borders with the Republic of Niger, lifts other sanctions.’

Tinubu’s directive came just days after the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government lifted economic and travel sanctions on Niger, Mali, and Guinea.

Ngelale’s statement read, “Consequently, the President has directed that the following sanctions imposed on the Republic of Niger be lifted immediately:

“Closure of land and air borders between Nigeria and Niger Republic, as well as ECOWAS no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger Republic.

“Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between Nigeria and Niger, as well as a freeze of all service transactions, including utility services and electricity to the Niger Republic.

“Freeze of assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Banks and freeze of assets of the Republic of Niger, state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks.

“Suspension of Niger from all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions, particularly EBID and BOAD. Travel bans on government officials and their family members.”

The Special Adviser to the Minister of Power on Strategic Communications and Media Relations, Bolaji Tunji, after speaking with his boss on the border opening directive of the President, confirmed to one of our correspondents on Wednesday that electricity had been restored to the Republic of Niger.

When contacted and asked if the Federal Ministry of Power had restored electricity to Niger following the directive by the President to open the borders, Tunji requested to speak with his boss, the Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, on the matter and revert.

In a follow-up call, he said, “We (Nigeria) have already restored power to the Republic of Niger based on the directive of the President. So I can confirm that the Federal Government has restored power to them.”

Nigeria exports electricity to the Republics of Benin and Niger based on various Transaction Service Agreements.

In July, The PUNCH exclusively reported that Nigeria exported about N23.13bn worth of electricity to some neighbouring countries in 2022.

The report confirmed that Nigeria exported electricity to Transcorp-SBEE and Mainstream-NIGELEC.

SBEE est Société Beninoise d’Énergie Electrique, a Benin Republic power firm, while NIGELEC, which is Société Nigérienne d’Electricité or Nigerien Electricity Society, is a power utility firm in Niger Republic.

The restoration of electricity to the Republic of Niger was welcomed by stakeholders in the power sector, as they noted that Nigeria earns foreign exchange from the export of power to the neighbouring country.

Reacting to the directive by the President, the National Public Relations Officer, who is a Chief Superintendent of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, said the Nigeria Customs Service was set to implement the order on border reopening.

“There is a directive, we are civil servants and we will adhere to the directive. The Federal Government has issued a directive and as civil servants, we are going to implement the directive,” he stated.

This implies that Nigeria’s borders with the Republic of Niger that were closed before now are to be opened with immediate effect.