By Lateef Adegbite
The Economic Community Of West African States, ECOWAS, under the Leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tnubu, Commander -In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, C-In-C, may have realised that allowing the military junta in Niger Republic to remain in power would be a bad influence on the Nigeria military may have informed why he has supported the use of military hostility to remove the junta.
Taoreed Lagbaja, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, CoAS, may have read the mind set of the Nigerian President that he has declared that ‘’the Nigerian military will always defend the nation’s democracy at all costs using every Constitutional means’’.
The Army General who spoke at the passing out parade of Officers of Executive Commission Course one of the Army school of Infantry, Jaji, Kaduna state on Saturday, August 5, 2023, assured the President of ‘’the Army unalloyed loyalty and the Commitment of the Officers to stoutly defend the nation’s territorial integrity and ensure security against non- state -state actors such as the Islamic Fundamentalist Group , BokoHaram and the break away faction, the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, linked to alQuaeda and ISIS of Iraq.
This is coming the heels of the economic sanctions that had had been imposed on the poor West African country by the Authority of Heads of State of the member states of the regional organisation. The regional body was said to suspended the country from all financial assistance and transactions with all central Banks and other financial institutions in the region.
It was said to have also freeze all Niger Republic enterprises and parastatals funds in Commercial banks in ECOWAS member states. The Nigerian President may have gone a step further to order the immediate cut in in electricity supply to the country that had depended on Nigeria for 90 %of its power over the years as a way to force the junta to restore the democratically elected government of detained President Mohammed Bazoum.
The Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS, may have found that that economic sanctions are not having the desired impact on the junta to restore detained President Bazoum to power that they have ordered the closure of the border states with Niger.
Recall that former President Muhammadu Buhari had said that only God can effectively supervise the vast the borders between Nigeria and Benin Republic. The former President had said that Nigeria share more than 1,400 kilometres of border with Niger which’’ can be effectively supervised by God’’.
On Friday, August 4, 2023, Adewale Bashir Adeniyi, acting Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, who had said that the that the Nigerian government closure of the Land borders with Niger is in ‘’the best interest of the two West African countries’’, was at the Jibia border in former Nigerian President home state, Katsina , to monitor the level of compliance to the government policy had said that the government has made it clear to the NCS, Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, and other security agencies including other stakeholders in the border management to ensure total compliance. Who is the champion of economic integration in the West African sub-region?
The Nigerian born ECOWAS Chairman who is the champion of economic integration in the West African sub-region may have had at the back of his mind that allowing the junta to remain in the power in the neighbouring West African country cannot bring prosperity to Nigerians and other people in the sub-region. He may have also had at the back of his mind that the Niger junta would be a bad influence to the Nigerian Army just as the Burkina Faso junta had a contagious effect on the Niger Republic coup Leaders.
The Customs helmsman who could not hide his feelings had said that the country have a situation at hands where there is insecurity and political instability in the neighbouring Niger Republic to be addressed . He had said that ‘’this situation does not allow trade to flourish’’.
The Customs Comptroller General was emphatic: We cannot have any meaningful trade in an atmosphere of insecurity and political instability was currently the case in neighbouring Niger Republic.It was not surprising why the ECOWAS , through the Authority of Heads of State and Government had no option but to take the decision to suspend and close all land borders with the Niger Republic .
As a prelude to ensure total compliance to the ECOWAS member states border closure with Niger Republic, the NCS, under the Leadership of Adeniyi, were said to have deployed officers and men to the joint operations team to further strengthen the Land border drill in the region to implement the policy all the porous border routes in the state.
Adeniyi, who could not hide feelings had said that ‘’it is the responsibility of the service, working with the NIS and other security agencies, including the Army ‘’to implement the ECOWAS’, borders closure decision with Niger in its entirety.
With the closure of borders with Niger Republic, may have informed why the ECOWAS Leadership may have agreed to plan’’ B’’ to use military hostility to remove the Niger military junta. The Nigerian President, in his capacity as the economic bloc Chairman, may have set the pace to facilitate to removal of the junta from power and restore the democratically elected government of deposed President Mohammed Bazoum.
The Nigerian President has transmitted a Letter to Godswilll Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state, led Senate, notifying it of the decision of the ECOWAS, Authority of Heads of State and Government as regards to the political situation in Niger and the planned military intervention to sack the junta backed by the Mali and Burkina Faso coup Leaders.
He was said to have sought the support of the Akpabio led Senate on the decision of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government decision on the use of military hostility to restore the democratically elected government of Bazoum. ‘’We see that ECOWAS is shouldering its responsibilities in the management of the crisis in Niger, taking strong positions in favour of respect for international Law and respect for democratic processes’’, the French minister of defence had said.
Sebasteien Lecornu, the french minister of defence , who had said that the Niger coup by Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani and his Group will undermine the fight against terrorism in the Africa’s Sahel region, had praised the strong actions of the ECOWAS which has given the junta until Sunday, August 6, 2023, to restore democratic rule in the country or face the threat of military sanction.
France has deployed 1,500 troops in Niger Republic and was said to have been using the country as a hub for anti-terror operations in the West African sub-region, after successive coups in the last two years in Mali and Burkina Faso prompted pull out from those countries.
Lecornu, the French minister of defence, may have shocked the international Community when he revealed that 40% of Malian territory is out of control of the Malian state and fears a repeat of the situation in Niger. The French minister had said that the Niger coup had come at a precarious moment when several Islamist terror groups including BokoHaram, ISWAP, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, ISGS and al-Quaeda’s local branch in the region are regaining strength, by taking advantage of failed states like Mali and Burkina Faso.
Given the internalisation of the Niger military takeover, may have informed why the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP has advised the Nigerian President ‘’to jettison the thoughts of engaging in a war with the Niger Republic following the recent coup in the country’’.The party was said to have advised the President to employ all ‘’tools of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the crisis’’.
Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice , during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and presidential Candidate of the PDP, in the just concluded February 25, 2023, Presidential election had cautioned the regional body ‘’not to travel the road of military hostilities to resolve the Leadership crisis in Niger Republic.
The Adamawa state born Politician had said hat that the military hostilities to remove the Niger junta my exacerbate the status quo, insisting that the crisis requires ‘’ diplomatic engagements’’ that requires dialogue to settle.