War In Niger? Putting Africa First



Rahman Owokoniran

Does the situation in Niger Republic call for a declaration of war between African countries?

If we pay enough attention to what goes on around the world we will appreciate the transformation taking place globally. Let’s do a quick recap of what the world stage is like now.

First were the free global trade agreements, the economic consequences of which most of the developed nations reviewed when governments changed hands. For instance, former US President Donald Trump refused and insisted on reviewing many such agreements approved by previous administrations. At the same time, UK and Europe eased out of BREXIT upon the expiration of the tenure. Yes, nothing is amiss from a union breaking ties upon the expiration of the tenure. But in this instance, UK freed itself from the free trade policies agreement between itself and Europe. So in the Western hemisphere, there was a departure from the free trade policies that resulted in a reversal back to stricter regulation regimes.

At this point in time, the world reversed from global economic policies to National regulatory policies. What part of this transformation did Nigeria and the rest of Africa play in this Agenda?

Secondly, the world had concerns about pollution, population growth and Climate Change. Right before our eyes, these concerns were raised at various summits, G5, G8 and it was also escalated at the regional levels and other interest groups. African Leaders looked on unconcerned. With respect to Climate Change, African leaders are talking but not acting, business is going on as usual in Africa. They have been going on as if we are living on a different planet not minding that African countries make up a good number of countries most affected by Climate Change, Nigeria inclusive. Up until now, nothing has changed since the slave trade era.

We continue to live under the shadow of our colonisers to tell us what to do. They tell us what is good for us, how we live our lives, and who we should relate with. They define our existence as a nation.

Thirdly, Nigeria has been an oil-producing country for years, and suddenly we have to grapple with the issue of oil and gas. Our government’s outburst in this instance is deceptive and irresponsible. They were caught napping when the rest of the world had been proactive solving their own problems with predictable consequences. The world is talking about green energy, sustainable and renewable energy; but here we are, caught up in the web of misguided oil and gas regimes, failed economic policies and moribund energy policies. We cannot begin to address our oil and gas policies without addressing the other two policies because they are all intertwined.

My summary of the problem associated with our oil and gas is that there was absolutely no policy in place. There was so much pretence about policy initiatives that summed up to nothing, the implication of which the institution that was intended to preserve our national interest became an albatross. It was riddled with so much corruption that the institution had to be completely scrapped to make any sense of it.

ECOWAS’s excuse for the looming war is that democracy must be restored in Niger. But every indication points to the fact that ECOWAS itself has no leg to stand on.

This is simply because most of the Heads of States have not nurtured or sustained democracy in their countries. Therefore, they should first agree on the modalities to establish and sustain democracy and monitor its process and procedures for sustainable growth. The cost to be paid for these monitoring organisations should yield better returns than the cost of war. It is about time for African nations to define their own priorities and policies that will be beneficial to them.

Look at the cost implication of war for America in Iran, Afghanistan, as well as Syria. The attendant fallout makes one realise that war is never ending, as seen in the Yemen Civil War (a war that has been on since 2004).

With internal terrorists still ravaging our cities, and ISIS, Taliban and other terrorist networks threatening the North of Africa, are we not opening ourselves up to danger?

We are complaining about our domestic capacity to feed our people. We are borrowing to pay staff salaries. We don’t have functional hospitals. We are still struggling with poverty in every aspect of our lives. Is this the time to launch such an expensive war enterprise? We might declare victory but no doubt we will come back a much weaker nation. Look at what became of Libya? Look at how long it took Sierra Leone and Liberia to get over their wars and others around us. This war is going to subjugate us and destabilise the prospects of Africa. It will divert attention away from what is important. It will set Africa back for decades.

ECOWAS cannot sell this dummy to us about fighting for democracy, when we all know it is the vested interest of the colonial masters they are only trying to protect. After all, democracy must be related to sustainable growth and development. In order to fulfil this commitment to protect, preserve and promote stability, ECOWAS nations and the African leaders must guarantee peaceful coexistence, stability and mutual benefit in all African countries.

ECOWAS, without benefit of hindsight, ignored the rights of Niger as a sovereign nation. It is so wrong not to give Niger the opportunity to defend itself before resolutions threatening to overturn the change of government. Where is the right of Niger as a sovereign? And this is the same ECOWAS that is out to defend democracy. The leaders need to stop the pretence, because their reputation speaks for them. They only disguise as Democrats when they are known for their autocratic tendencies.

Which brings me back to the question: Why can’t Africa choose and develop at its own pace? With everything happening around Africa, the world order was and is already changing. Those who did not participate in the sharing after the Second World War, like India, China and the Arabian nations are struggling for their piece of pie in exploitation of the African nation. Africa has not been on the table. Africa has not been conscious of its political environment. Africa is so disjointed that unless it can unite to fight for its own place, it will continue to be marginalised for decades till another era and a looming war will ensure that it stays this way.

It is however not too late, if only we can wise up. War is not the answer to Africa’s many challenges.




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