The exit of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is anticipated to trigger substantial geopolitical changes, as disclosed by Prof. Audu Nanven Gambo, the inaugural Vice-Chancellor of Karl Kumm University.
In an interview with Business Day, Audu Nanven Gambo, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Karl Kumm University, a Professor with special interest in International Relations and Strategic Studies shared his insights on the repercussions of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso’s withdrawal from ECOWAS.
Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have declared their intention to sever ties with the ECOWAS, in a joint statement released on Sunday.
The three West African nations expressed their dissatisfaction with ECOWAS, criticising the organisation for imposing sanctions on them as part of efforts to address coups within their borders.
The statement, issued after 49 years of affiliation, noted that ECOWAS has deviated from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism.
The withdrawal of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso from the ECOWAS is poised to have far-reaching consequences, both regionally and internationally.
This unprecedented move, announced by these nations underscored the dissatisfaction of these West African nations with ECOWAS, particularly criticizing the organization for imposing sanctions in response to coups within their borders.
The severing of ties after 49 years of affiliation raises concerns about the stability and cooperation that ECOWAS has historically fostered in the region. The departure of these countries threatens to disrupt the collaborative efforts aimed at addressing economic, political, and security challenges across West Africa.
Gambo asserted that ECOWAS made a grave error by resorting to threats, particularly towards Niger, emphasizing that a more diplomatic approach should have been adopted.
“ECOWAS made a very terrible mistake by beginning with threats especially to Niger that shouldn’t have been the case.
“Internationally, the withdrawal may prompt shifts in geopolitical alignments, as these West African nations reassess their roles and engagements on the global stage”, Gambo stated.
He argued that member states should be engaged in diplomatic negotiations, urging a short-term transition program to address concerns and reinforce the tangible benefits of ECOWAS membership.
Expressing concern over the current situation, Gambo highlighted the need for ECOWAS to understand that membership in international organizations is voluntary, not compulsory.
He stressed that diplomatic engagement is crucial, making member states comprehend the advantages of abiding by the organization’s principles and objectives.
The Professor warned that ECOWAS’ failure to demonstrate effective leadership could set a precedent, encouraging any member state to withdraw without facing consequences.
Moreover, Gambo criticized ECOWAS for seemingly lacking the capacity to enforce unity among its member states.
He argued that the use of force, once a deterrent, no longer intimidates or threatens member states, allowing them to act against the organization’s principles without fearing repercussions.
The professor emphasized that the current scenario serves as a warning, indicating that any member state could defy regional body principles with impunity.
The need for diplomatic engagement and a more strategic approach to conflict resolution within ECOWAS was underscored as essential for maintaining regional stability and unity.
“On an economic front, the exit of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso may result in a loss of trade and investment opportunities within the ECOWAS framework, impacting the interconnected economies of member states.
“Additionally, the regional bloc could face challenges in coordinating efforts on issues such as currency stability, infrastructural development, and joint initiatives to boost economic growth.
“From a diplomatic standpoint, the withdrawal signals a fracture in the unity that ECOWAS has sought to maintain in addressing regional conflicts and crises. This move could complicate future diplomatic endeavors, as the affected countries may seek alternative alliances or partnerships outside the ECOWAS framework.
“Furthermore, the decision to sever ties raises questions about the broader implications for Pan-Africanism and the collaborative spirit envisioned by the founding fathers of ECOWAS.
“The departure of these nations signifies a divergence from the organization’s original ideals, potentially undermining the unity and collective strength that ECOWAS has strived to embody”, he noted.
The consequences of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso pulling out of ECOWAS are likely to unfold in the coming months, shaping the geopolitical landscape of West Africa and influencing diplomatic relations in the region.