The Military Coup In Niger And ECOWAS Rascality

Prof. Eghagha
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By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

            So it was that the khaki boys of impoverished Niger Republic slipped that miserable country back into the Stone Age practice of violently overthrowing an elected government, following the footsteps of Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali, and threatening to kill the deposed president. Though bloodless, in the aftermath of the coup, there are threats of spilling blood, that is, if the rampaging mobs have not killed some unfortunate politicians. The mob! They were angry with the political class and trooped out to say so. Enough of the bloody politicians, they seemed to say! 

In a very dramatic and breezy manner, ECOWAS under the headship of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, virtually declared war on the coup plotters without giving diplomacy a chance. It was an example of reckless bravado from an ECOWAS conglomeration of pseudo-democrats who were more interested in their survival than the plight of the hoi polloi of Niger Republic! Good enough ECOWAS has backtracked somewhat, an illustration of the fact that the leaders of that regional body did not take into cognizance the total factors before the saber-rattling that followed the coup!

The junta leaders have promised to defend their fatherland. They have gone a step further to declare that if Niger is invaded, they would kill the deposed president first! Blood is smelling. Lined up behind the ‘revolutionary’ soldiers are the ordinary people of Niger who have vowed to defend the new government with their tears, sweat and blood. To complete the picture of potentially explosive anarchy, Russia has nudged itself into the defender of the regime change with the loud innuendoes that the Wagner group will rise to the occasion should there be hostilities. Added to this the level of insurgent activities in the subregion. How could anybody have thought that a regional conflagration would be the panacea to coups in sub-Saharan Africa? Common sense is not common!    

            America, France, and Germany have all lined up behind the deposed president, mainly because of their selfish economic interests – uranium and other mineral deposits locked in the belly of one of the poorest countries in the world. Until the coup, I never knew that the western powers had a dangerously close spy centre next door to Nigeria. How could we have known that Niger the Poor was home to thousands of wealthy and strategic Americans, French, and German nationals? The resentment against France was palpable. If Africa came of age under Murtala Mohammed, Niger and much of Francophone Africa were left behind in that journey towards self-discovery. Removing poverty-stricken West African countries from the stranglehold of French imperialism is one of the reasons for coups in French West Africa. In other words, France is the devil that must be destroyed in the Armageddonic battle of liberation!

As a result, the rhetoric emanating from the lips of the coup plotters is reminiscent of the revolutionary sentiments of the 1970s and 1980s when the evil empire represented by the world capital of capitalism had to be brought down in a people’s revolution. Bob Marley belted out tunes that aided the revolutionary ethos for us struggling undergraduates of that period. The rhetoric of the Niamey Junta was also reminiscent of the anti-democratic spirit which enveloped Africa shortly after independence in the 1960s. Nigerians as well as Ghanaians and some other countries were fed up with the antics of greedy politicians and welcomed the ‘corrective regimes’ of army mis-adventurers in power! Until the IBB and Abacha years, the façade of the military rulers as redeemers of the people held a blindfold over our eyes!

The real antidote to coups is good and responsible governance. Of course, I stand fully against any overthrow of elected officials. It is however instructive that anybody who massively rigs himself into power is guilty of a coup against the people. It is this grey area that somewhat encourages the messianic spirit in the military. We do not need them in Nigeria or in the world. We must however call out Senate President Godswill Akpabio for his utterances which showed a complete disregard and disrespect for the people. If the poor people had their way, they would recall that man from the senate. How could a former governor, former minister and senator be so insensitive to the horrible economic and social conditions in the country?

There should be no regional war in West Africa. The leaders of the junta should be persuaded and pressured into giving up their ambition to rule over Niger. The western powers must know that the game is up. They have taken enough for the owner to notice. A fair deal should be negotiated for the country. Such repudiation of colonial agreements must be extended to all the countries in Africa. Except this is done, there will be more coups. As for those who argue that in some countries there can be no coups because of strong anti-coup obstacles forget that soldiers are trained to overcome obstacles!

President Tinubu should concentrate on Nigeria. He is carrying an elephant on his head, considering the nature of challenges which he has inherited. He should not allow himself to be dragged into a war whose end we cannot predict.  Nigeria and the situation in Niger are deeper and more complicated than any flourish display for the beauty and restoration of democracy. The tensions arising from postcolonial oppression and strangulation are deep in Francophone Africa. It is a lesson in the tyranny of the oppressor, immorality, and insane wickedness and greed of the French government. At the end of this whole crisis, the African Union as a body should stand firmly with the nations that are still tied to the apron strings of France and repudiate the obnoxious agreement – The Pact for the continuation of Colonisation – which was recently thrown into the public domain by Arikana Chihombori-Quao, former African Union Representative to the UN. How could this nonsense continue to stand in the 21st century?

At press time, the junta leaders had agreed to hold talks with ECOWAS representatives. This followed a toning down of reprisal rhetoric by gung-ho merchants of war and force. Other African countries should look deep in their wells and ensure that there are no angry gunmen in their barracks waiting for an opportunity to strike. Indeed, the only antidote to coups is good and responsible governance. Where the people continue to see a huge disparity between appalling conditions of their lives and the opulence of the privileged few, evil thoughts will begin to enter their minds. We don’t need any crazy adventurers in Nigeria. Nobody should encourage them by design or default. 

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