Q: ECOWAS should consider the military coup and things happening in the region as a thinker to reform the socioeconomic independence of her members
It is no longer a piece of news that the Military Junta that Ousted the Civilian Government led by President Mohammed Bazoum of Niger Republic in a coup d’etat in one of the latest news trends emanating from Africa. Recently, the Economic of West African States (ECOWAS) led by the Nigeria President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, gave an ultimatum to the Coup plotters to relinquish power to the democratically elected Government, else, ECOWAS military intervention in the Country. With this soldierly threat, other nations and apologists have declared their military support to Niger. Amongst include Mali, Burkina Faso, Russia, Algeria, North Korea, a private military Russian company -Wagner, and the civilians who are tired of the poverty level in Niger. The tension in the Sub-Sahara region could be an imminent war clouding.
Before now, France colonized Niger and a few other African francophone countries – they still influence them, such as the CFA Franc which France created for the francophone countries in the West Africa region to coordinate their monetary economy. Also, France’s stake in West Africa has prompted a military base in Niger alongside the USA to keep peace and other activities, but unfortunately, could not hold back the coup. Economically, Niger is a major producer of Uranium, a natural resource used to power nuclear energy in France and Europe. Since the coup, Niger is facing different sanctions including a no-flight zone from international communities. All military apparatus is on standby for attack and counter-attack since the military junta refused to welcome diplomatic deliberation from the emissaries sent from Nigeria.
While I sincerely agree that a Military Government is not a lasting solution to the challenges facing Niger including the social vices attributed to the corrupt politician, the call for military intervention in the Sahel Country is delicate and needless, save diplomacy to reinstate the ousted government or elect new one that is popular among the people. This clarion call is to crave the indulgence of the ECOWAS leaders to review other effective alternatives before embarking on a military intervention in Niger. Some of the solutions to cushion the tension in the region are suggested as follows.
Diplomacy and advanced diplomacy
Nigeria sent emissaries led by the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar. Efforts to talk out the terms proved abortive. Niger Military Junta and his team presumed that Nigeria’s action to cut her power grid to Niger as a sanction depicted that unreadiness to negotiate in the first place. However, Nigeria and ECOWAS should not give up on renegotiating with Niger, but not without seeking the assistance of their lead supporters like China or Russia to redeem the trust and make any agreement signed with Niger stronger and binding. A peaceful resolution can be reached with the military junta through mediation to bring stability to the region.
Promote sovereignty and de-neocolonialism
It is a no-brainer that the people of Niger supported the military coup because of poverty and economic degradation in Niger despite living in the abundance of natural resources such as Uranium. The ripple effect of France’s dominance, political influence, and neocolonialism might have triggered the angered military personnel to take over. It is time for ECOWAS to stand to its responsibility of uniting the region by protecting the sovereignty of the West African Region through regional economic coordination-an effective and independent monetary intervention that will not be influenced by the West and their past colonial masters. This will bring Niger to a frontier of negotiating their terms and relationship without fear or favour. It would be advisable to advocate for the stoppage of sending Niger national deposits to France’s Central Bank for sovereignty purposes.
Promote economic and social reformation
ECOWAS should consider the military coup and things happening in the region as a thinker to reform the socioeconomic independence of her members. One of the interventions that could catalyse this is forming a partnership with the BRICS. The BRICS agenda seems liberal and intend to treat its members with equity, respect, and opportunity to develop their capacity for nation-building. BRICS will give loans at reasonable and equitable interest rates, unlike their counterparts who charge third-world Countries ridiculous interest rates in the name of creditworthiness.
ECOWAS should endeavour to re-usher Niger to a democratic era that is popular and acceptable among her people. An inclusive government is the bedrock of democracy. The youths, civil society, community leaders, and sectional leaders should all be contacted and engaged on how best Niger can move forward to form a government that is inclusive, popular, and do the will of the people. Niger citizens are exhausted from political puppets and implementers of the neo-colonial agenda.
Bodunrin is a professor of Human Resources and Organisation Behaviour at Algoma University Ontario, Canada