✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Before Nigeria gets sucked deeper in the Niger quagmire

The operative word in the title of this article is ‘sucker’. The meaning of the word from Dictionary.com is “A person who is easily cheated,…

The operative word in the title of this article is ‘sucker’. The meaning of the word from Dictionary.com is “A person who is easily cheated, deceived or imposed upon’’.

Since the July 26 military coup that overthrew the civilian government of President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic, the sequence of events indicated that Nigeria may be hurtling inevitably towards intervening militarily along with troops from member countries from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore democratic rule in the country.

Although that option is considered as the last of the series of actions to be undertaken to return Niger to civil rule by ECOWAS, from the hardening of positions on both sides it is quite possible that we may soon reach a point of inevitability. And in the event of that happening it is almost certain that Nigeria by all parameters of measurement will not only contribute the largest contingent of men and material, but the force will likely utilise Nigerian soil as a forward operating base for the intervention.

But before we get to that point, on the path of Nigeria and Nigerians, it is necessary to do pertinent interrogation of the issues at stake.

The fundamental question to ask is whether the restoration of democracy in Niger is so vital to Nigeria that we are prepared to expend so much in resources to bring that about?

Apart from the resources that we are likely to commit to such an endeavour, have we thought of the fact that the intervention exercise may spill over to our territory especially at points along our long border with Niger bringing along with it new dimensions in the intervention that we have not thought about and may not even be able to cope with?

Why did not the United States of America (USA) which has a drone military base and France, the former colonial power which has the exclusive rights to oil and uranium extraction in Niger, not act to prevent the coup from taking place in the first place? And why have both powers with far more assets and capabilities not taken the necessary lead in emasculating the military junta now in place and forcing it to release and restore the ousted Bazoum and his government to power? Why leave the heavy lifting to ECOWAS and specifically Nigeria to essentially pull the chestnut out of the fire for them in Niger?

It is interesting to note that following the coup, Niger has suddenly become a top news item globally. It is also instructive to note that the slant of interest in Niger has been heavily tilted towards the danger the new situation in Niger poses to the uranium that France extracts in the country and the military base that America maintains there.

All this leads to the inevitable conclusion that ECOWAS and Nigeria in particular are being made patsies to achieve the interests of the French and Americans in Niger.

And this is how the scenario will likely play out in the coming weeks.

In the intervening period ECOWAS, led by Nigeria, will seek to apply pressure on the Niger junta with carrot-and-stick diplomacy. But the junta, perhaps encouraged by support from Russia and neighbouring states like Burkina Faso, Mali and Algeria, will likely stand firm. At some point, the French and Americans alarmed at probable moves by the junta to either revoke the uranium and oil concessions as well as non-renewal of the operating lease on the military base respectively will step up pressure on ECOWAS to raise a military intervention force.

It is at this point that Nigeria will have to decide whether it is in her best interest to get involved or not. And in this regard, I will urge President Tinubu and the National Assembly to be guided by the outcomes of our previous similar interventions namely in the liberation of southern African states and in Liberia-Sierra Leone.

In the struggles for the liberation of southern African states, perhaps no other country outside of the frontline states supported the liberation movements than Nigeria. But no sooner had they got their independence with hefty support from Nigeria than they turned around to give us the bum rush. One by one all these countries returned to their former colonisers who had much deeper political and economic interests and ties in those countries than us.

A similar thing happened to our intervention in Liberia and Sierra Leone both of which were left to plunge into bloody civil wars by their colonisers. Having done the heavy lifting in both these countries largely alone, the US, Britain and France contrived to sponsor a UN resolution that questioned Nigeria’s intervention in both countries. ECOMOG, the Nigeria-led intervention initiative that brought much succour to those countries, was compelled to make way for UNAMIL. Nigeria is still being owed the pledges made to it on the Liberia and Sierra Leone interventions.

Here we go again with Niger.

Niger is not far away from southern Africa or Liberia-Sierra Leone where we can afford to intervene and not be subject to the direct effects of our involvement. It is next door and seven states in Nigeria border on it. There can be no way an ECOWAS intervention in Niger led by Nigeria will not have a direct blowback with disastrous consequences for us. And what is more, in Niger we are confronted with three global powers, the US, France and Russia whose interests loom large in what is happening there.

While our intentions in helping to restore democracy in Niger are noble enough, are we certain that these powers share the same ideal? Does it not look once again like in southern Africa and Liberia-Sierra Leone, we are being set up as cat’s paws to help France and America protect their interests in Niger after which they will once again shove us aside and take charge of the situation to our detriment? As Russia has clearly stated, that military intervention in Niger cannot be helpful, have we factored in a possible Russian pushback once we intervene in Niger and what is likely to follow?

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.