The military coups taking place in West African countries, like the one in Niger, cannot be summarised in a single story: they are a manifestation of subtle and sinister motives by ‘former’ colonial masters who never really left their colonies.
‘Realignment’ rather than ‘coup’ could be the correct description of the response towards the dire political, and economic situation African countries find themselves in. That is to say that the voter constituencies have shifted from corrupt self-elected regimes to siding with the military with the hope that things will be better with a change of government.
After independence, the African colonisers still maintained their grip on the colonies in one way or another. Ultimately, Africa’s natural resources determine which countries should remain subject to the influence of these powers.
Burkina Faso and Mali have recently had coups so, the question is, why is Niger being singled out as the country to be invaded by ECOWAS, and not the others?
Apparently, ECOWAS has become a military bloc, otherwise understood to be an economic entity of the West African region. Through this, Niger is being turned to be another Ukraine whereby France and the United States are pushing ECOWAS, a fractured organisation, to invade Niger. They will not put their own soldiers on the ground to fight the Niger military administration to reinstate the ‘democratically elected president’. France is pressing the president of Nigeria to quickly get the ECOWAS army together to invade Niger, disrespecting the facts on the ground – much of the population in Niger evidently supports its military leaders.
The current state of ‘democracy’ in Africa
Current Nigeria president Bola Ahmed Tinubu is about to be impeached for forging academic certificates and several other criminal charges of money laundering hanging on his neck. This brings us back to the question of what democracy in Africa really is. If African presidents get elected by hook and crook, is that democracy to embrace? The constitution of ECOWAS countries has a two-term limit for its presidents. If, after two terms, the constitution is manipulated to enable the president to run for a third term, is that not tantamount to a silent coup?
Many presidents in ECOWAS have extended their terms to three and four, done against the will of the people. Some countries have dynasties. Is that not a coup? Mohamed Bazoum, got into power by force: France and other western countries recognised Bazoum as the democratically elected president of Niger, and he could be set to be reinstated by military force to enable further looting by France of Niger’s natural resources.
Nigeria is faced with serious challenges of security, particularly the long-standing conflict with Boko Haram in the north of the country. But president Tinubu is at the forefront, vehemently pushing ECOWAS to invade Niger and to reinstate the ousted Bazoum. The senate of Nigeria’s parliament has rejected military intervention in Niger for several reasons: The cultural interconnectedness between the two countries should never be undermined by a western-backed invasion. The economic and social challenges of Nigeria are far too great for it to endeavour such a risky military operation. A war situation has its own dynamic and is always unpredictable: a timeframe is impossible to estimate. The invasion of Niger could destabilise the entire Sahel region, a fragile region still at war.
The war in Sudan is not yet over: Ethiopian and Tigray peace agreement has signs of unresolved differences. The African Union rejected the invasion of Niger: their argument is the same: that the Sahel region is politically and economically unstable to experience yet another war. But the colonial master France and the United States want the invasion done swiftly: insensitivity of the highest order.
The people of Niger have collectively demonstrated for days and nights in support of the military takeover. Again, there is an interim civil administration in place. However, the people’s voices are not taken into consideration; be it France, US and some ECOWAS countries. In the larger scheme of things, the people of Niger have no power to determine their fate. The serious implications beyond the Niger conflict are also not taken into consideration.
The role of corrupt African leaders
However, it is not fair to put blame exclusively on colonial powers and not highlight the role of corrupted African presidents who, for purely personal gains, undermine fellow African countries that want to rid themselves from post-colonial dominance. Since the pseudo independence of West African countries, the region has had over 110 military coups beginning with the overthrow of Kwame Nkruma of Ghana.
For centuries, the African kingdoms have invaded other kingdoms for slave trading, capturing African people for the purpose of being sold in the lucrative Atlantic slave trade. Refusing these demands would mean decimation of their own kingdoms. It is the same modus operandi today, no less.
President Tinubu has literally been ordered to invade Niger at the behest of France and the US. His criminal charges of money laundering and drug trafficking are well documented in the US; hence Tinubu is captured and compromised. He can be ordered to execute the invasion if he is to survive the crimes he committed in the US. Tinubu wants to invade Niger for the sole purpose of declaring a state of emergency in Nigeria: his argument will be that Nigeria is at war, no impeachment processes during the time of war with Niger. This article is stipulated in the Nigerian constitution, and Tinubu wants to use it to remain in power.
Tinubu is therefore putting mass populations of Nigeria and Niger on the line to consolidate his personal power, disregarding the fact that many of these people have lived together peacefully for centuries. There are no obvious border demarcations between Nigeria and Niger, albeit academic. The ethnic groups found in Nigeria are the same as in Niger: The Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas are peoples interwoven either by intermarriages, traditional similarities, and village settings. It is inconceivable how the Nigerian army will fight Nigeran army if they are culturally interwoven. Some media sources say an invasion will never take place for the reasons mentioned above.
The role of the US, France, and other European countries
Acting US deputy secretary of state Victoria Nuland visited Niger but was not able to speak to the military leaders: the purpose of her visit was to reinstate the deposed president, Bazoum. To refuse Nuland’s request has serious consequences for the military administration in Niger. The US, France, and other European countries have military bases in Niger, making the situation volatile. It seems clear that France will invade Niger, it is just a question of time.
Algeria has refused France its airspace for an invasion of Niger. Mali and Burkina Faso have offered military assistance to Niger in the event of an invasion by some members of ECOWAS and France. The participation of these neighbouring countries exacerbates the eminent danger in the Sahel region, presaging total chaos and anarchy in the fragile region.
Italy’s right-wing prime minister Giorgia Meloni is a lone voice in critiquing France’s inhuman treatment of its former colonies. She has expressed her utter disgust at every opportunity towards French president Emmanuel Macron for openly exploiting its pseudo-independent African states. For this reason, she refuses to take in refugees in Italy because she thinks France is the elephant in the room, hence the influx of African migration to EU countries. Surprisingly, Meloni is widely praised in some African social media for loudly critiquing Macron.
The elephant in the room: uranium
Niger’s uranium is the obvious factor of this brewing conflict – democratic values and principles are only a cover to invade Niger, the poorest in the world, but endowed with abundant natural resources. France is dependent on uranium from Niger: the current energy crisis in France and Europe is precarious, and Macron will go as far as murder to reinstate the ousted Bazoum under the pretext of democracy.
That the Nigerien population languishes in poverty does not disturb a globalist Macron, he does not lose sleep over the Niger population which is in dire straits: it is said that one in three light bulbs in France is powered by uranium from Niger. This is what matters to Macron more than the children in Niger who survive on one meal a day: scant education, health care services, water and sanitation, food insecurities… the list goes on.
The situation in Niger gave to many the opportunity to learn about the economic and social challenges in West Africa. The countries of this region are interconnected culturally.
Nigeria has a population of more than 250 million. Most Nigerians are literate and are educated, the ability to speak freely critiquing their economic and political challenges are evident on social media. The youth especially are talking eloquently about failing governments. Nigerians have answers to their problems but to bring about political change in Nigeria is a tall order. It is impossible to think of any other country in Africa that has such a powerfully politicised and educated population. In public places, interviews of people speaking freely critiquing the government are common. The power of their voices, the anger and the timbre of expressions is unparalleled in Africa.
What DiEM25 can do under such extra ordinary circumstances
In this loaded context: assisting Niger and west African region will go a long way if progressive forces like DiEM25 in the global North speak up against vestiges of colonialism in Africa. Assisting in scrutinising bilateral and multilateral agreements, especially in trade agreements made between EU countries and African countries is a step in the right direction.
Transparency in the trading of major resources is demanded. This will assist African countries to increase their tax base which would enable them to improve infrastructure developments and adequately improve social services such as health and education. Fair trade should be the buzzword: there is a pipeline from Nigeria via Niger and Algeria: such international procurements must be made transparent to ensure that deals are written fairly at eye-level to equally benefit the lives of people in the African continent.
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