1 Aug 2023
Republic of Niger Coup…Tinubu Needs very wise Counsel
Following the July 26th military coup in Niger Republic against deposed president Mohamed Bazoum, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) under the leadership of Nigeria’s president Tinubu imposed draconian sanctions on that country and its military junta led by Gen Abdourahamane Tiani.
Tinubu referred to the coup as an “assault” and ECOWAS gave one week ultimatum to the coup leaders to “release and reinstate” the ousted president else ECOWAS will take all measures necessary which may include the “use of force”.
The threat to use force is where Tinubu needs to tread with utmost caution. It is doubtful if ECOWAS on its own can succeed with the use of force against the junta in Niger. How does ECOWAS intend to use force and safely extricate the deposed president from the custody of the military rulers of Niger? As expected, fellow travelers like Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea (all ECOWAS members) have kicked against the measures taken and have not only refused to comply but warn that any attack on Niger is a declaration of war. How is ‘war’ going to play out with the presence of an estimated 1500 French troops and 1000 American troops stationed on Niger’s soil? The suspicion is that ECOWAS could eventually be used as a bridge to start another NATO military intervention in Niger and possibly beyond. Africa is still living with the painful fallout of the NATO intervention in Libya.
Tinubu and his ECOWAS leaders need competent geopolitical experts to advise them on this issue. One thing that cannot escape the attention of any objective observer is the popularity of these putschists in their respective countries and beyond due to frustration linked to past leadership failures. Any outbreak of war over this issue may have destabilizing ramifications in the region beyond our imagination.
Tinubu should know that the other ECOWAS countries are counting mostly on ‘giant’ Nigeria in the event that they want to start a war. Tinubu will commit a monumental blunder to start a war which he may not see it through or which he may be forced to hand over the baton to NATO. Nigeria is an economic giant in the region but her once ‘giant’ military has been bogged down by local insurgency especially in the northern part of the country which incidentally shares borders with Niger Republic. Is Nigeria ready for inflow of refugees? Can Nigeria withstand a scenario in which, in the event of war, the northern part of the country becomes a bigger theatre of war than it is today?
This is my humble advice to president Tinubu. Find out if the military coups that have occurred in the Sahel are popular with the majority of the citizens of those countries and why? Review the ego- influenced ultimatum and seek alternative solutions. Find out if majority of your own citizens back your stand on this issue. You have just emerged from a hotly contested election whose outcome is still being challenged and trade unions and other civil society groups are flexing their muscles. Your country certainly does not need another imported problem to increase her instability. Nigeria being a big boy of Africa should be seen to be championing the call for African integration so that we can free ourselves from endless wars and instability caused by bad governance of Africa’s 54 micro states.
Copyright ã2023 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Timah Moses