By Lateef Adegbite, With Agency Reports
The military in neighbouring Jihadist-hit Niger Republic appears to have sent a message to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President and Commander –In- Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and now Chairman, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, who had described the coup in the West African country as’’ unpleasant’’ that they will not listen to him, let alone take to his orders to relinquish power to the civil authority.
The Nigerian President was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that under his Leadership as Chairman of ECOWAS, ‘’frameworks would be harmonized to actualise the dreams of the regional body ‘’to stand firm in the defence of democracy’’.
Many believe that that the Lagos state born Nigerian Leader may have provoked the ambitious soldiers in Niger into taking up arms against the state when he had harped on regional security, during the last ECOWAS meeting in Guinea Bissau, stressing that ‘’democracy remains the best form of government’’.
He was said to have declared at the meeting that as democratically elected Leaders, they did not give the country’s resources or invest in the military , in their booths and in their training to violate the Freedom of the people’’.
He was emphatic that the military turning their guns bought for them by the civil authorities for the defense of the sovereignty of their country from external aggression or internal uprising ‘’violates the principles upon which they were hired’’.
The new ECOWAS Chairman, who will not want to sit by and watch democracy being stagnated in the West African sub-region was said to have dispatched Patrice Talon, President of Benin Republic to Niger Republic that has been termed in diplomatic circles as ‘’the most coup-prone in the region to Negotiate with the coup Leaders to restore the suspended constitutional political Leadership in the country.
The ECOWAS Leadership may have developed plan B, to ensure that the ousted President Mohammed Bazoum, would be returned to power as the Chairman had said that he will do ‘’everything within his powers to defend democracy and ensure democratic governance continues to take firm root in the sub-region’’ constitutional .
As a prelude to forcing the ambitious Nigerien soldiers who had overthrown former President Bazoum from office on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, to restore power back to him , the ECOWAS, Chairman, has hosted a special meeting of the Economic bloc over the Niger coup and the political impasse in Mali, and Burkina Faso, where the military had intervened and wrestled power from the civil- authorities to restrategise on how to restore political stability in these countries.
The Niger Republic military junta had said on Saturday, July 29, 2023, ahead of the ECOWAS, crisis summit on Niger that they know that ‘’the aim of the meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against the country , in the form of an imminent military intervention in Niamey, the Capital , in collaboration with other African countries who are not members of the Economic bloc and certain Western nations’’.
The Niger new military Leader Abdourahamane Tiachni an Army General,, who goes by the name Omar, in military circles, had corroborated , Colonel-Major Amadou Abduorahamane statement that the country’s Army had ousted President Bazoum from office following ‘’the continuous deterioration , bad social and economic management of the country’’.
Gen. Abdourahamane had said that the coup was motivated by both the desire ‘’to preserve the country in a context of a ‘’deteriorating security situation and poor economic and social governance’’. He had said that the ousted former President Bazoum’s government did not give ‘’Nigeriens a glimpse of a real way out of the country’s security crisis’’.
Another Account has it that the Niger Army General had participated in the coup that has removed former President Bazoum from power to forestall his planned dismissal as head of the Presidential Guard by the immediate past President , a position he was said to have occupied since 2021.
Not many were surprised that the Niger Army General who was reportedly involved in an unsuccessful coup attempt shortly before the democratic transfer of power in 2021, could take advantage of the army mutiny to seize power in a country of 62.2 million people that exports uranium but still poor.
Note that the recent coup in Niger Republic, brings to three, the number of sahel countries to experience a coup detat between 2020 and now. The two other sahelian countries currently under the military junta are Mali and Burkina Faso. There is no gain saying the fact that Mali and Niger, both sahelian countries have had coup detats since 2020 and both are being overrun by extremists linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq group.
Former President Muhammady Buhari, who was said to have been giving ousted former President Bazoum, military support, had described the coup in Niger by mutinous soldiers attached to the Presidential Guards as ‘unwanted’’ and fears about the fate of democracy as a system of government in the country and in the wider sub-region’’.His happiness is that ECOWAS, under the Leadership of President Tinubu is already dealing effectively with the matter, which he had said will be ‘’completely reversed’’.
Emmanuel Macron, French President, on his own part was said to have demanded from the coup Leaders the restoration of the ousted resident Bazoum’s government as ‘’it does not recognise the putschists, still calling Bazoum the ‘’sole President’’.
Determined to clip the wings of the Niger coup Leaders and force them to return power to the Legitimate civil Authority, the three African members of the UN, Security Council, from Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique, were said to have requested a meeting for an update on the developments in Niger Republic, over the forceful removal from power of former President Bazoum by the country’s military junta. On Saturday, July 28, 2023, the UN, Security Council members were said to have held closed consultations on Niger.
The Council members were said to have condemned the group of ten soldiers, reportedly representing all branches of the Niger Republic military and other security agencies over the unconstitutional change of the President Bazoum’s government. The Council was said to have thrown its weight over efforts by the ECOWAS and African Union, AU, Leadership to ensure full restoration of constitutional order and democratic rule in Niger’’. The AU, could no longer tolerate the delay tactics by the junta ‘’to remain in power that the Leadership has given the junta of Niger two weeks to restore constitutional authority’’.
Those who are familiar with the Niger Republic politics had said that if France and other countries, both within and outside the African region who had been strengthening their military presence in the West African country of Niger over the pat one year to combat the terrorism threat, after withdrawing their counter-terrorism forces from Mali in 2022 and tensions over the Malian civil Authorities’ decision to partner with the Wagner group, the Russian private security company , have been alive to their duties, the military could not have had the opportunity to dare the legitimate government of President Bazoum.
The situation in Niger Republic is so worrisome that Antonio Gutterres, UN, Secretary General, had been able to speak to Anthony Blinken, the North American country of the United States, Secretary of State, who in turn had said that he had spoken to President Joe Biden on the matter.
The US, Secretary of State, may have warned the Nigeriens military still detaining former President Bazoum that hundreds of millions of dollars assistance ‘’ was at risk, if they fail to release him as Biden, the country’s President who is fighting an undeclared war against Russia , alongside other NATO , member countries has thrown his steadfast support on him.
He did stop there. Already Washington has warned that if the Niger coup Leaders fail to return President Bazoum’s government , as demanded , ‘’it will cease security and other cooperation with the West African country, where about 1000 US troops are stained at present.
Blinken , who according to informed sources was wrapping up a multi-nation pacific tour , was said to have called on the Nigeriens military the second time , in as many ways to offer America’s unflagging support’’.He has praised the former Niger Republic’s President’ role in promoting peace not only in Niger by the wider West African region, as against the coup plotters’ claim that he messed up the security situation of the country given room for the terrorists to overrun the country.
In spite of efforts by the Leadership of ECOWAS and the US , including France, which has immense military presence in the coup –prone Niger Republic, that are indications that ‘’ Negotiations ‘’ to ensure return to Constitutional order in the West African country were at an impasse’’. Security experts believe that going by the steps being taken by the ECOWAS Leadership to protect democracy in the African region, the military will think twice in any West African country to turn their guns against the civil Authority in West African country, particular,, in the future because of the repercussion.