The Program Director, West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP),
Chukwuemeka Eze, has said that any plan by Nigeria or other West African
countries, to close borders, as a means of reducing its exposure to the Ebola
Virus Disease, would be ineffective.
The Ebola Virus Disease, he said, has reinforced the “fact that borders in West Africa are mere artificial and what that means is that, even if you close your borders, there are a lot of people who do not understand what it means to close your borders.”
Making reference to a border town between Togo and Ghana, Eze, noted that many residents are not conscious of their nationality as they have lived together, without restrictions, for many years.
“People go to school, on daily basis, either in Togo or in Ghana, or vice versa, and therefore when you are telling them about borders and passports, they do not understand what it means,” he said.
He disclosed that discussions at the ECOWAS meeting focused on providing a
“collective response to Ebola virus”.
“The President of Nigeria said Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus but that does not mean that Nigeria is off the hook, because there is still Ebola virus in Guinea, there is still Ebola virus in Liberia, there is still Ebola virus in Sierra Leone” he said noting that “that tells us is that once somebody, even if it is a hunter, or a fisherman from Ghana goes (to his) next door neighbour to fish, anything could happen in Ghana and that can come to Togo, and that Benin and Nigeria is back again with the virus.” He further argued that a decision to close borders would be ineffective as there are several unofficial and unguarded entry points. “So, if we don’t provide a community response and
ensure that everything about Ebola, within the region, is off, (so long as you keep saying and assuming that it is in Liberia), then I don’t think we
are solving the problem.”
He also said that the rejection of the closure of borders was also because ECOWAS does not want any impediment to trade and integration. “We want free movement of people; free movement of goods and services within the region”, he said, noting that “even if countries, where
they are asking for resident permit, ECOWAS is saying no to that, so that the community becomes one community.
Mr. Chukwuemeka Eze was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily aired on September 18, 2014