Niger Republic: Why Nigerians Must Not Support Armed Invasion 

Following the coup in the Niger Republic, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rolled out stern sanctions aimed at compelling the coupists to revert to democratic rule and return the ousted President back to office within one week. The statement issued by ECOWAS hinted at the possibility of a military option against the coupists.

Subsequently, there have been discussions about the possibility of an armed invasion of the Niger Republic by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Nigeria playing a significant role in the operation. 

However, there are several compelling reasons why Nigerians should not support such an invasion. Here are some of the reasons why diplomacy and dialogue should be favored over military action in resolving issues with the neighboring Niger Republic.

Proximity and Misunderstandings

If the planned armed invasion of the Niger Republic by ECOWAS happens, it could inadvertently lead to a war between Nigeria and Niger. Given the geographical proximity of both countries, any conflict arising from the invasion could escalate and have far-reaching consequences for the entire West African region.

Economic Burden on Nigeria

If ECOWAS goes ahead with the military operation, Nigeria would have to bear a substantial financial burden. As the largest contributor to ECOWAS, Nigeria offsets 70 percent of the organization’s budget. Financing such an operation would be an additional strain on Nigeria’s already challenged economy.

Impact on Bordering States

States bordering the Niger Republic, such as Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, and Yobe, would likely experience direct hits in the event of armed conflict. This could lead to significant human and economic losses for these states, adding to the existing security challenges they face.

Inconsistent Approach to Military Coups

Nigeria and ECOWAS have not taken military action to dislodge military coupists in neighboring countries like Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad. It raises questions about the double standard when it comes to intervening in the Niger Republic.

International Interests and Support

The reluctance of American and French military bases in Niger Republic to intervene during the coup raises suspicions about their motivations. Furthermore, relying on external support from major powers may not be feasible, as they may not approve unlimited arm supplies for ECOWAS to wage war.

Humanitarian Crisis

Niger has been a vital ally to Nigeria in the fight against terrorist groups and currently hosts over 303 thousand Nigerian refugees. An armed invasion could endanger these refugees and lead to a new humanitarian crisis in the region.

Niger has been a vital ally to Nigeria in the fight against terrorist groups and currently hosts over 303 thousand Nigerian refugees. An armed invasion could endanger these refugees and lead to a new humanitarian crisis in the region.

Avoiding a Military Entanglement

Nigeria should avoid getting entangled in a military confrontation with a neighboring country. As no West African country possesses the military capability to initiate or sustain a war with Niger Republic, the burden would ultimately fall on Nigeria.

Sovereignty and Self-Determination

It is essential to respect the sovereignty of Niger Republic and allow its people to determine their political destiny. President Tinubu should avoid being pushed into initiating a war and focus on diplomatic solutions.

Lessons from Yemen and Myanmar

Countries like Saudi Arabia in Yemen and stronger nations in Myanmar are still grappling with military regimes despite spending significant resources. Nigeria cannot afford to be embroiled in a prolonged and costly conflict.

Focus on Internal Security Challenges

Nigeria is already facing a significant threat from terrorism within its borders. Resources and attention should be directed towards addressing internal security challenges effectively.

Potential for Escalation

Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea could potentially enter the conflict to support Niger Republic, leading to attacks on Nigerian territories. This escalation would further destabilize the region.

Pursuing Dialogue over War

President Tinubu should prioritize dialogue with the military authorities in Niger. Engaging in meaningful conversations could lead to a peaceful resolution of any underlying issues.

Regional Cooperation

Instead of resorting to armed conflict, regional cooperation and joint efforts should be encouraged to address security challenges. ECOWAS member states can work together to find lasting solutions to common problems.

In conclusion, we should carefully consider the implications of supporting any armed invasion of Niger Republic. Diplomacy, dialogue, and regional cooperation should be the preferred approaches to resolving conflicts and maintaining peace within the West African region.

Source: Sen. Shehu Sani

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