It is unusual to see any African president admit failure of a policy so when Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari admitted on Thursday that closing the nation’s land borders more than a year ago did not achieve much in stopping proliferation of illegal arms, it instantly became a major item of focus in the news media.
But rather than soak it’s on failure and immediately make amendments, President Buhari was immediately quick to pass the blame on the infiltration of countries within the Sahel region of Africa by fleeing bodyguards and the crisis in Libya.
The President was lamenting this development in Aso Villa, Abuja when the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas, paid him a farewell visit.
Buhari further lamented that the worsening case of arms and ammunition proliferation in the West African and the Sahel region resulted from the fall of the former Libyan strongman, Col. Muammar Gadaffi who held a grip on power in Libya for 42 years by recruiting armed guards from different countries, who escaped with arms when the Libyan he was killed.
The border closure in August 2019 to December 2020 indeed failed to prevent the rising proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country, but instead brought untold hardship to many Nigerian traders who do businesses with neighbouring African countries especially those bordering the South Western states.
Many Nigerians consider that the closure of the borders failed because the Federal government did not take action against some of its security agencies who were allegedly permitting illegal immigration and inflow of arms and ammunitions instead of effectively policing the porous borders, especially in the Northern borders.
It is not the first time Buhari would blame the rising arms proliferation in his country on Libya. Recall that in April 2018, he told the Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Justin Welby, that Gaddafi, who was killed in 2011 by United States troops, was responsible for the killings in parts of Nigeria.
Similarly in February last year, the President told the African Union Peace And Security Council Summit on Situations in Libya and the Sahel in Addis Ababa that the devastating impact of the conflict in the Libya and its neighbours in the Sahel and the Lake Chad regions was alarming