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Niger’s military takeover and the interest of the people

The joy on the streets of Niger’s Niamey after the military takeover tells a different story from what the West African ECOWAS or Western countries want people to believe. It is the restoration of democracy, they say or military intervention will be initiated to enforce the democracy – the restoration of the mandate of the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum. All talks are gradually coming to nothing as Niger’s military leader Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani has cut ties and pacts with some countries as the deadline approaches but ECOWAS must ensure continued exploitation of avenues to peace and stability of the sub region.

West African countries want the military leaders to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum within a week which elapses in two days. Bazoum in an opinion piece with the Washington Post said, “This coup, launched against my government by a faction in the military on July 26, has no justification whatsoever. If it succeeds, it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world.”

The people of Niger seem to be happy about the coup. But President Biden said, “I call for President Bazoum and his family to be immediately released, and for the preservation of Niger’s hard-earned democracy. In this critical moment, the United States stands with the people of Niger to honour our decades-long partnership rooted in shared democratic values and support for civilian-led governance. The Nigerien people have the right to choose their leaders. They have expressed their will through free and fair elections – and that must be respected.” The Guardian reported.

Hard-earned democracy and to honour decades-long partnerships rooted in shared democratic values bare the Janus-faced and duplicitous Western countries. The hard-earned democracy by their meaning is the sustaining of controlled leadership of Niger selected for the people of Niger and partnerships rooted in exploitation of Niger’s natural resources to the perpetual detriment of the Nigeriens.

“On the one hand, African heads of state were handpicked by Paris, after two “ job interviews,” first with Jacques Foccart, General de Gaulle’s trusted advisor on African matters, then with de Gaulle himself, if the first screening was conclusive. Nothing was ever said on record, of course, but the African president thus “elected” was neither foolish nor foolhardy, and knew what was expected of him: to put the resources of his country at France’s disposal and routinely vote alongside the latter at the UN.” wrote Boubacar Boris Diop. He continued, “Huge, eye-popping bonanzas are shared among African and French leaders, money that the beleaguered economies of poor countries can ill-afford to lose.” While that is sustained, the people of Niger and other African countries remain poor. This is the democracy in action.

President Bazoum should reflect on how he has led the people of Niger. Has he made them poorer by his policies and remained silent on the corruption and exploitation of Niger’s resources? He should also reflect on if he was truly elected by the people or imposed on the people from Paris.

Democracy is the government of the people and by the people. A question to be asked is if the people of Niger truly have the power to elect their leaders? If president Bazoum came by the people’s mandate, the military will find it hard to oust him.

If democracy is to be preserved in Niger, will it be the opinion of the United States, ECOWAS, France and others? Will it not be the decision of the majority of the people? If the people of Niger are happy and celebrate the ousting of president Bazoum, who are the people the United States claim to stand with in the critical time?

Read Also: West Africa on the brink

People of Africa are fighting for total independence from the choke-hold of the kind of democracy of exploitation so touted but of course the true will of the majority of Nigeriens must be respected.

What happened in Niger should be resolved by the Nigeriens, other than that, it will amount to imposition of external wishes on the people. That, according to president Bazoum, “will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world.” Not the deposing of his and his government.

As ECOWAS is proving to be controlled by the Western powers, it is important that the interests of the West African peoples remain paramount. Military intervention does not resolve all issues. But diplomacy that does not account for the wishes of the people of Niger will rather put the country in a more precarious situation. Caution is advised.

Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani, the military leader of Niger warned against foreign meddling and intervention. He called on “the people of Niger as a whole and their unity to defeat all those who want to inflict unspeakable suffering on our hard-working populations and destabilise our country”.

“Western officials fear that if military missions leave Niger it would create a vacuum that Russia and its Wagner mercenary group would fill. The Kremlin already has a significant presence in Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan while courting Burkina Faso.” The Guardian reports. This is the reason for the expression of military force. It is a fight for the control of Africa and Niger’s raw materials.

If ECOWAS does not fight for the interests of the peoples to stop the immoral exploitation of the resources of the member nations, of what importance is the bloc? Any resolution that does not make peace and stability the ultimate goal makes ECOWAS a purveyor of instability. That is a betrayal of West African and African interests and a betrayal of the peoples of Africa as well as a support for the continued exploitation. As Nigeria’s president Tinubu pursues military intervention, he is inadvertently betraying the interest of the peoples of Niger.

“A French company that extracted uranium sold it on the market for $218, while paying Niger only $11 for it. The power that was in league with Bazoum (ousted president) and his followers, simply covered up, allowing the coalition of people {Western countries like France, the USA, and so on} who plundered the nation to be present in Niger’s territory. That’s it. Therefore, this is a liberation struggle, a liberation movement for the independence of this country, and God grant them success.” The head of the “Wagner Group,” Yevgeny Prigozhin was quoted as saying.

August 3rd was Niger’s Independence day and as reports held, the people of Niger felt they had truly gained independence from France.

This is time for Africa to rally together to protect their people and their land and their natural resources.

Let me conclude with the words of Pope Francis, “Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.” He then declared, “May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny!…fight to preserve your dignity and your territorial integrity”

Let Nigeriens be the protagonists of their own destiny.


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