Unfolding reality in Niger Republic, a nation known to be Nigeria`s closest ally before the recent military coup that occurred in the country, seems to be posing a serious socio-economic crisis in the country. It is also posing a security challenge to the global community.
The military takeover engineered by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, branded as Government of ‘National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), is taking the country away from the collective aspiration of her people for a good and secured life.
Current situation in the country shows that since General Tchiani ousted President Bazoum on 26th of July, this year, (2023), the country of an estimated 27 million people, of which 50 percent of the population are under 15 years old, has not made any tangible progress, as the living condition of the people has gone from bad to worse.
Since the military takeover, the country has been finding it extremely difficult to pay its civil servants regularly; a development that is further pauperising the working class in the country, and triggering a sense of discontent among the general population.
The cost of living in Niamey, the political and administrative capital of the country, has become exorbitant, with the price of a 25kg bag of rice that used to be 12,500 FCFA, before the coup, moving up to 16, 500 FCFA.
Also, in Niamey, and other major cities, the scarcity of other basic commodities, such as bathing soaps, detergents, cooking oil, can be observed, with long queues of people out to make purchase of the commodities in most of shops that still have limited number of the needed commodities seen.
Another striking trend going in the country is that Nigeriens are no longer allowed to withdraw cash at the bank counters, beyond 50,000 FCFA, and this is further making it difficult for the people to meet their basic needs, a development that is already provoking anger in the country.
Speaking about the prevailing situation that the military takeover has thrown the country into, Sani Abakar, who is a student of University of Niamey, disclosed that the limited cash reserves in banks, is now forcing many people in the country to sometimes sleep in front of the banks, as a way of putting them in a good position to be attended to the next day.
Abakar added that most of the commercial banks in the country now open early and close as early as 10 a.m., because of shortage of cash.
He further added that there are contemplations in some quarters in the country to halt the school resumption which commenced on the 2nd of last month (October), due to the ongoing difficult socio-economic environment which the coup has thrown the country into.
According to him, the school tuition fees which used to be 50,000 FCFA per child has become very difficult for most parents and caregivers to pay, and amidst this situation, the country`s Ministry of Education has notified parents that the ministry was already running short of money to finance the payment of salaries of teachers in the schools.
He said that what the development implied was that the country may not be able to finance the operations of the schools after the academic year, except there is a positive turn of events.
As most of the citizens are trying to grapple with the current situation, information coming out from the country’s Armed Forces is indicating that there is a growing high level of distrust among the ranks and files of the forces.
Relationship between the country’s Minister of Defense, General Salifou Mody, who is the new number two man in the putschist regime, is said to be frosty as he is said to be at loggerheads with the military head of state of the country.
General Mody, who derived his strength from the control he seems to be enjoying among country’s army, is at the moment being accused of instigating the recent anti-Mahammadou Issoufou demonstrations that was staged on Friday 5th of November, in Niamey.
Issoufou, the former president of the country that presided over the election that shedded power to the ousted President Bazoum, was accused during the last demonstration of gross abuse of power, and corruption, while, in office.
As the situation in the country continues to deteriorate, General Tchiani has blocked all channels opened for reconciliation and negotiation by the ECOWAS, as well as humiliated Nigeria’s President by rejecting the nine months transition programme set out for him as a way forward for his country.
In the same vein, Tchiani has also rejected the offer from international partners, including the President of Algeria, who proposed a six-month political transition for the regime.
In the face of the prevailing reality in the country, and the intensification of the activities of the Sahelian terrorist groups in most parts of the country, particularly, in it Southwest borderline with Mali, it is instructive for Nigeria, to scale up its intervention role in the country.
What is happening in the country now is confirming the assumption among ECOWAS leaders that the current military junta is inexperienced, and incapable of running the country, as his occupation of power stool is leaving the country more vulnerable, isolated in the comity of nations.