By Lateef Adegbite
This is not the best of times for Abdourahmane Tchiani, popular, Omar, in Niger military circles, an Army General and head of the military junta in the neighbouring West African country as President Bola Ahmed, Commander –In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and Chairman, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, appears to have rallied support against the junta to facilitate the return of power to the deposed President Mohammed Bazoum, still in military detention.
The Niger new military Leadership were said to have challenged President Tinubu, the ECOWAS, Chairman, and other members of the regional Organisation Authority of Heads of States and Government to dare to use the region’s military might to threaten them.
The ECOWAS, Leadership, may have disappointed Gen. Tchiani and his group, when it stated on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, that it has no intention of applying the full weight of the economic bloc military strength to force the junta ruled West African country out of power.
The ECOWAS, Chairman, who is a master strategist may have resorted to plan B, to force Gen. Tchiani and his co-travellers out of power. Aware that Niger is dependent on Nigeria for its electricity supplies, the President may have given a matching order to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc, to cut off supplies to the Land locked country.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration may not have paid much attention to the recovery of the $18.29 million owed the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc by the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Niger and Togo for electricity consumed in 2022, alone as they have democratically elected Leadership.
According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, the International Customers include: Societe Beninoise Energie Electrique, BEE, of Benin Republic, Compagnie Energie Electrique du Togo, CEET and NIGEELEC-electric power generation and transmission utility of Niger.
The deposed President Bazoum government may have been a soft-landing by the then Katsina state born Nigerian President on how to settle the electricity supply debts owed Nigeria because it was a Constitutionally elected government.
As a prelude to forcing Gen Tchiani, the Niger strong man to relinquish power to the Constitutionally elected President Bazoum, a Diplomatic source told The Value News that the power outage Iin Niger Republic was ordered by the Nigeria’s President in his capacity as the Chairman of ECOWAS as part of the sanctions on the Niger Coup plotters. A Katsina based business man who shuttles between the Nigerian town and Niamey, Capital of Niger, had said that the power outage in the West African country was due to the sanctions rolled out by the regional body on Sunday, July 30, 2023.
The regional Economic bloc, had imposed trade and Financial sanctions against Niger and giving the arrow head of the Coup plot in the West African country a week to reinstate the country’s former democratically elected President Bazoum or face the possible use of stiffer sanctions.
Officials of the country’s Electricity Company, NIGELEC had confirmed that that it is no longer rumour that Nigeria has cut its electricity supply to the country. They noted that some major cities in the country are currently facing darkness because the connection that supplies power to the country comes directly from the National grid. The Niger Coup Leaders may not be finding it funny over the cut off power supply to the country, which depends on Nigeria for over 70% of electricity supply needs.
There are indications that the ECOWAS, Central Bank Chiefs had cancelled the country’s planned 30 billion, CFA, or $51 million bond issuance ,scheduled for Monday in the West African regional debt market, following the sanctions.
The World Bank may have made matters worse for the Niger junta as it was said to have suspended Financial Aid to the country and other private sector partnerships. Recall that in June, 2023, the global bank’s Board of Directors had approved the US$230 million in additional funding to the Niger Learning improvement Result in Education project,LIRE, which , according to informed sources was aimed to help the then President Bazoum’s government ‘’ improve the people’s access to education, quality of teaching and learning environments as well as strengthen education planning and management in the country’’.
The Niger Republic education system is faced by heavy demographic pressure, limited resources and risks of vulnerabilities, a source confirmed, which may have encouraged the global financial body to have stepped in to help out. Bu the July 26, 2023, military Coup in Niger, may have put the question mark release of the $230 million approved Education aid.
Given that the World Bank/IMF, are determined to join forces with the ECOWAS, Leadership, to cripple the Niger ambitious military officers as they are yet to disburse a $131.5 million that was said to have been approved for the country on July 5, 2023 is a big blow to the junta.
Germany, may have matters worse for the Niger Coup plotters as it had suspended financial aid and halted cooperation with Niger as a result of the coup. The European Union, EU, had was said to have equally suspended Financial support to the poor West African country. This is coming on the heels of the US, threat to do same as a way to force Gen. Tchiani, the Niger Republic self- acclaimed Head of State to reinstate former President Bazoum to power.
Many believe that with the economic and trade sanctions being imposed by the ECOWAS, on the poor West African country and the suspension by the world Bank/IMF,EU, Germany aid, and threat by the North American country of the US, to do state, the Nigerien military Leaders may be forced out of office in no distant time.