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Niger coupists unpopular, hire illiterates to attack politicians – Bazoum’s party chieftain

Alhaji Boubacar Sabo is the deputy secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the overthrown president of Niger Republic, Muhammad Bazoum, Nigerien Party for Democracy and…

Alhaji Boubacar Sabo is the deputy secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the overthrown president of Niger Republic, Muhammad Bazoum, Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) Tarraya. In this interview with Daily Trust Saturday, he spoke on the coup in his country, action taken against the putschists by African blocs, the unilateral decision of Nigeria to cut their power supply, and the party’s expectation on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community on the release of Bazoum and his reinstatement.

 

What is the current situation in Niger Republic?

What I want to tell our brethren in Nigeria is that ECOWAS is not going to attack Niger, it is the coupists who are on the wrong side of the law that ECOWAS wants to deal with and entrench democracy in the country.

People should ignore the propaganda that the action by the regional bloc would cause disaffection and war between Nigeria and Niger Republic.

The coupists said the government was toppled due to deteriorating security and economic hardship, what do you have to say?

They only said that to gain sympathy from people in the country, but it is the same military that hailed Bazoum for providing them with the best weapons to fight the insurgency.

They also blamed economic problems to be the second issue, but it is enough for a fair judge here to tell, between now and the democracy under Bazoum, which is better in terms of security and economic condition? It is incomparable.

In less than three years of his administration, Bazoum has changed the face of governance in Niger, so whoever is supporting the coup to the detriment of our country should fear God. We have no better place to call our home than Niger.

People in Nigeria are of the view that the putschists have massive support and war may break out should Nigeria draft its military to your country; what is your take on this?

I don’t think that is true. And talking from an informed position, very few people are supporting the coupists. And you should know that money is being shared to the majority of these people you see protesting in the streets.

You know, given the situation now, people can do anything so long as you will share money to thwm. If they want to know about Bazoum’s popularity and the number of supporters he has, they shouldn’t have prevented our planned protest. In short, it is only through elections that people would know how popular a person is.

Are you saying that you are barred from protest?

Of course yes; make independent findings. All political parties have been suspended, including the PNDS Tarraya. And they refused to allow us to sleep.

They are paying some illiterate money to stage-manage crowds in their support, vandalise and loot the properties of politicians.

Are you saying the coupists are unpopular?

Very few people are supporting them. I want everyone to know that the action of these coupists is a threat to every leader in Africa because if the presidential guards who were assigned to protect the president would place an elected president under arrest and later declare a takeover of democratic government, then nobody is safe in Africa.

If care is not taken, what is happening in Niger today is clearly indicating an end to democracy in Africa. This is because if something like this can happen here without ECOWAS and the international community taking any action, then no country in the world is safe.

What are your expectations from the regional bloc and world leaders?

My fear is that if this coup in Niger is not properly handled, it will happen in other countries anytime from now, and your country, Nigeria, would not be an exception. And this will take us back to the olden days when coup was the order of the day. We will all be into it and no country will be safe.

Today, four African countries have been taken over by the military – Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and now, Niger. They have a network and nobody can stop it from happening in the other countries if it is not properly tackled.

What is the best way ECOWAS and Nigeria can handle the issue?

Nigeria is the leader of ECOWAS, so it is very important to engage the coup leaders in a diplomatic dialogue although they refused to listen to the delegation sent to them. They have already taken a stand and are not willing to rescind.

Do you think military intervention would be a solution?

We love our country but democracy is very important to us. I heard our neighbours in Nigeria saying that attacking Niger would cost the existing relationship between both countries.

To my understanding, military intervention would ensure that Bazoum is released and power returned to him. So, I don’t think there would be any war.

You said they didn’t have supporters but we saw on the social media how angry protesters burnt the French embassy and destroyed vehicles and declared allegiance to Russia. Who were those people?

These are people who are ignorant of how the world revolves. Most people in francophone countries think that all their problems would be solved if they welcome Russia and push France away.

Most of these people are uneducated; they don’t know the history of Russia right from the USSR and their current position in the world. No country in the world will help you without reason. So, expelling France to bring Russia is moving to fire.

What I expect our people to start thinking is how to unify Africa, love ourselves, support one another and work very hard to realize a powerful continent like Europe and America. No foreign country in the world will come to Niger and solve our internal problem.

Nigeria’s directive to cut off electricity supply to Niger is raising eyebrows in your country, are you also affected?

It is one thing that leads to another. Nigeria has never cut off electricity supply to Niger, so it happened for a reason. What ECOWAS wanted was to compel the coupists to obey the constitution and restore order in the country.

Anybody that has an issue with the electricity cut off should ask the coupists to step aside and revert to status quo. I love our country but we want democracy to prosper.

There is fear in Nigeria that this action may force your country to abandon the agreement of recharging Kainji dam through River Niger and get a percentage of the electricity generated; what would you say on this?

Already, Niger has abandoned that agreement, we are constructing Kandadji dam to generate hydropower that would start working in one and half year. This dam would cover the electricity need of Niger and even supply to other neighbouring countries.

Islamic clerics and academics said the coup was made to stop the retirement of the presidential guards, and this would retard the development achieved so far in the country. What is your view?

Scholars’ view on issues is always critical; they only talk from an informed point of view and without sentiment. Not only that, an ordinary man in the streets can tell you how the economy deteriorated within these few days.

Nigeria is a landlocked country; and with the border closure in Nigeria and Benin, we can no longer use their ports to import. Interventions from international organisations, World Bank-assisted projects and others have also stopped.

As it is now, the country is in a dilemma because there was an increase in the prices of food items by more than 40 per cent now. Prices of bags of rice, maize and millet have all skyrocketed.

What advice would you give to the coupists?

My advice to the coupists is that Niger is our country and no other place is better than here. So they should not push us into a crisis that we would all regret.

I want to put it into their heads that democracy has come to stay, and in this era, no serious country in the world would want to associate itself with military rule. So, the more they understand this, the better.

They should also rethink and return President Bazoum to power to be at peace with themselves, the people of Niger and countries around the world.

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