Following the exit of Niger Republic alongside Mali and Burkina Faso from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the regional bloc stance on military takeovers in these francophone countries, findings by the Nigerian Tribune has revealed that some importers and exporters from landlocked Niger Republic may decide to abandon Nigerian ports for their trans-shipment cargoes.
Recall that Niger Republic, which borders Nigeria from the northern part, in 2023 had pledged to abandon Cotonou Port and start trans-shipping its cargoes through Lekki Port.
The Director General of the Ministry of Transportation at the Niger Republic, Mme Tchima Moustapha had told journalists in January of 2023 during the commissioning of the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos that the modern facilities available at the Lekki Deep Seaport have created an alternative for Niger importers to now trans-ship their cargoes through Nigeria instead of Cotonou Port in Benin Republic.
However, speaking with the Nigerian Tribune in the wake of the withdrawal of Niger Republic from ECOWAS, a former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu explained that he doesn’t see Niger Republic trans-shipment cargoes coming in through Lekki Port anymore.
According to Prince Olayiwola Shittu, “I don’t see the trans-shipment cargoes of Niger Republic coming in through Lekki Port because of what is going on in ECOWAS. Don’t forget that all the three countries that pulled out of ECOWAS are francophone countries and are landlocked.
“With the withdrawal of Niger Republic from ECOWAS, their importers might be told to also go back to Cotonou Port to mover their trans-shipment cargoes. You know Niger Republic and Benin Republic are both francophone countries. However, Niger Republic will face the backlash more because they depend on Nigeria for electricity and trade. Its an ongoing development that we are watching unfold.”
Also speaking, a former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Eugene Nweke explained that from time immemorial, Niger Republic had always preferred Cotonou or Lome for their trans-shipment cargoes.
“The Niger Republic had always
preferred to use Lome and Cotonou Ports for their trans-shipment cargoes
in the past. Yes, last year they said they will start using Nigeria,
but with what is happening in ECOWAS politically today, that promise
might no longer be feasible. However, that looks insignificant to me
judging by the volume of cargoes that they trans-ship, which is very
low,” Chief Eugene Nweke explained.