By Suleiman Umaru And Latef Adegbite
In spite of efforts by the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, under the Chairmanship of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria to get General Abdourahmane Ichiani, the new military Leader of neighbouring Republic to see reason to reinstate deposed President Mohammed Bazoun, who had been under house arrest with hi wife and son, since July 26, he has re,,mained defiant.
Abdusalami Abubakar, a retired army General and former Nigerian Head of State at the instance of the ECOWAS, Leadership had travelled to Niamey, Capital of the Wet African country of Niger to dialogue with the new military Council headed by General Tchiani to defuse the crisis in the poverty ravaged country.
The first visit of General Abubakar, rtd, and his team to Niamey, the Niger Capital last month may not have been successful as they were said to have tried but failed to meet General Tchiani, the coup Leader and other members of the Niger new military Council including former President Bazoum who is still under house arrest but no luck.
The ECOWAS, delegation, who were again in the country on Saturday, August 19, 2023, were said to have been allowed by the junta to meet and discuss with former Bazoum for the first time since July 26, 2023, and narrated what had been done to him since July 26, 2023, and the problems he is currently facing in the hands of the coup plotters, which the retired Nigerian army General had said they will back to the ECOWAS Leaders that had sent them to Niger in order to decide on what to do.
The ECOWAS delegations were said to have joined efforts by the United Nations, UN, Special Representatives in West Africa and the Sahel region, Leonardo Santos Simao, who was said to have arrived Niamey, on Friday August 18, 2023, in trying to facilitate a resolution to the continuing crisis.
Simao, the UN, Special Representative had said that they want see the liberation of the former Nigerien President and his family and the restoration of the Legitimate authority. The ECOWAS, delegation may have sent message of firmness of military intervention to the coup Leaders as they had remained defiant to restore Constitutional order in the country.
The Niger Coup Leader address to the people of Niger after dialogue with the ECOWAS, delegation on Saturday, August 19, 2023, clearly shows that the ongoing negotiation has failed and that the junta are not ready to go now having tested power and all that goes with it.
Ambitious and defiant General Tchiani, was said to have told the people of Niger as a way to calm frayed nerves and win the heart of the international community that the military would not remain in power beyond three years in the country. He was emphatic that ‘’any transition that would be undertaken by the administration would not go beyond three years.
As a prelude to restoring democratic order in the country and further win the heart of the people, to show that that they are not army of occupation, the Niger military council which appear to be making mockery of ECOWA efforts to restore normalcy in were said to have announced a 30-day period of ‘’national dialogue ‘’ to draw up concrete proposals’’ that would lay the foundations of a new constitutional order in the country’’.
The Niger coup Leader may have known that the regional bloc which had activated its standby force which had intervened in other emergencies since 1990, including the civil wars in Liberia, Coted’Ivoire and Sierra Leone , would not take it that he has warned that ‘’any attack on the country would not be easy for those involved’’.
He may have pushed the ECOWAS Leadership who are waiting for General Abubakar’s delegation’s return from Niamey where they had gone to dialogue with the Niger coup Leaders and the former President Bazoum to the wall.
The ECOWAS Leaders are now left with the option of deciding whether to take military action against the Niger new military rulers or not. Given that the Niger coup Leaders are not ready to go now may have informed why the ECOWAS Leadership has concluded arrangement to act.
Between 2020 and now, the putschists had taken over power in for West African countries. The Niger coup which is currently being resisted by the ECOWAS, is the fourth since 2020 following that of Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bisau and Burkina Faso.
The coups are coming on the heels of the Shel region struggling with growing terrorism and banditry attacks linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamists State group. Determined to kickout the Niger new military rulers and restore former President Bazoum who had been kept under house arrest in the Niamey, the country’s capital with his wife and son to power, Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS, Commissioner for Peace and ecurity, had confirmed that 11 of its member states, including Nigeria, Coted’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia , had agreed to commit troops to military deployment to Niger Republic.
The 11 member states that were said to have agreed to contribute troops for the Niger operation, according the ECOWAS Commissioner for Peace and Security, do not include Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso , which had waned that they will consider any military intervention in Niger Republic as a declaration of war against the country and they will forced to fight alongside the Niger army. The ECOWAS Peace and Security Commissioner had said that they are ready to act, whenever the order was given.
President Alasane Quatara of Cote d’Ivoire who is following the foot steps of the Nigerian President had said that his country will contribute a battalion of soldiers of between 850 and 1,500 alongside Nigeria and other countries in the subregion which had agreed to contribute troops for the Niger mission.
Lawalli Barma, Chairman of the Niger Republic nationals in the ancient town of Kano had said that there was no basis for the military takeover, let alone the regional body decision to deploy military forces to the country because deposed President had had done exceedingly well in advancement in human and capital resources while in office. They were said to have also lauded his contributions in the political, economic and social development of the country during his tenure, stressing that the coup Leaders has nothing to offer but to plunder the country’s lean resources.
Lawalli, who is not happy with the cop Leaders who had found their way to power with the use of the gun bought with tax payers’ money instead of going through the ballot box had said that ‘’prior to the military intervention in his home country, Niger, on July 26, 2023, ‘’ the country had been experiencing a period of peace, economic stability and political development that had been shattered’’.
Worried by the rising tension in Niger Republic due to the coup that toppled the former President Bazoum, Pope Francis, on Sunday, August 21, 2023, while addressing the Faithful at the St. Peter’s square, Rome, after his Anglus prayer was said to have urged a’’ diplomatic solution to the political crisis’’. ‘’I join with prayer the efforts of the international community to find a peaceful solution to the Niger crisis as soon as possible for the good of everyone’’, he had said.