The notoriety of the West African region is becoming loud and messy. One too many cases of the dethronement of democratic government is a notable occurrence that gives bad publicity to the African continent. Mali, Burkina, Guinea, Chad, and now Niger are characterised by the disturbing coincidence of all being former French colonies. We are closer to regional disintegration if holistic and genuine attention is not given to the West African landlocked country.
The democratically elected President Bazoum was ousted in a coup d’etat carried out by members of both the Presidential Guard and the factional Armed forces. His ousting was occasioned by insecurity and poor economic situation. And just a few days into the military takeover, a new sheriff has been appointed. Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, the former economy minister, Niger Republic, has been announced as the country’s new prime minister.
During a broadcast on national television, this announcement was made a few days ago by Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland. However, the trigger for the coup in Niger appears to have been President Bazoum’s plans to reform the military high command and remove Gen Tchiani from his position amidst an economy torn to shreds and increasing insecurity.
The Nigerian Involvement
It is raining torrential sanctions as President Bola Tinubu has ordered fresh sanctions through the Central Bank of Nigeria on entities and individuals related to and involved with the military junta in Niger Republic.
The Special Adviser to the President, Media, and Public Affairs, Ajuri Ngelale, disclosed this during a press conference. According to him, these sanctions are based on the position of financial sanctions meted out on the military junta in the Niger Republic by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of state. At the same time, further discussions will take place to consider soft landing for the Junta perpetrators.
While we wait for the ECOWAS resolution slated for Thursday as the West African bloc meets to address the exigent issues at the extraordinary meeting in Abuja, it is evident that neighbouring countries cannot afford to fold their hands and watch Niger Republic morph into what they thought will never be a proxy problem.
Nigeria’s involvement is another perspective that needs to be checked. As a bigger state with shared boundaries, the President summoned governors of states while instructing the closure of borders with Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Borno to improve the country’s internal security. In the interest of the Nigerian state, the Acting Inspector General of Police Ag IGP Olukayode Adeolu Egbetokun, has directed all security agencies within these states and the entire northern geopolitical zones to fasten their belt of vigilance. Considering the proliferation of firearms and increasing perpetration of crimes, Nigerians are advised to make more conscientious efforts to elongate peace and stability while a long-lasting solution to the tension in the Niger Republic is provided.
The Senate has also made it known that caution should be applied in dealing with the situation in a sovereign state coupled with the agitations of Nigerians who believe we have bigger issues back home in dire need of government intervention.
The Way Forward
It is important to note that diplomatic talk remains the most productive approach to restoring peace in the West African bloc. Not just in Niger but in other countries planning on taking full advantage of the Nigerien political crisis as an aider of their well-thought plans to foment radical military takeover. The African continent has been in perpetual unspoken war no thanks to harsh and rigid requirements for travellers and other anti-business bottlenecks. Earlier in the week, Abdel-Fatau Musah, Ecowas’ commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said that while “all the elements” had been worked out about an “eventual intervention”, the body wanted “diplomacy to work”.
Allegations levelled against France, the U.S.A and other Western superpowers that they remain beneficiaries of fractured democracies in Africa are not dissipating anytime soon. With growing concern that Russia’s private military company Wagner Group could end up becoming the next foreign military controller, their hands to accusations thrown at warring factions within and without the Niger Republic. As we wait for normalcy or anything in its guise, African countries must begin to see internal fighting as intolerable distractions that hinder progressive talk that should put the continent on the echelon of wealth and exemplary use of power.