By Omotayo Ayanda
In the heart of West Africa, a storm of uncertainty gathers as the Republic of Niger grapples with a political coup. The repercussions of this upheaval extend beyond its borders, casting a shadow over neighboring Nigeria and sparking a deliberation within the Tinubu Government. With neighboring West African nations experiencing military rule, the potential consequences and the cautious stance on military intervention come to the forefront.
The echoes of the Niger coup reverberate beyond immediate political landscapes, presenting a spectrum of challenges for Nigeria and the Tinubu Government. The implications, ranging from security and economics to diplomacy and humanitarian concerns, are far-reaching and warrant careful contemplation.
In the aftermath of the Niger coup, Nigeria faces a security dilemma along its shared border. The porous boundary could potentially facilitate arms smuggling and insurgent activities. As the Tinubu Government considers the prospect of military intervention, it must skillfully navigate the fine line between ensuring its own security and avoiding provoking further unrest in the region.
Niger occupies a pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic fabric, serving as a trade partner for petroleum products and agricultural goods. The coup threatens to disrupt these vital trade routes, thereby posing a risk of economic instability. The Tinubu Government is under pressure to explore diversification strategies to mitigate potential trade disruptions.
The human aspect of the crisis looms large, as the turmoil in Niger has the potential to trigger a refugee crisis. With citizens possibly seeking refuge across the border, the Tinubu Government must be prepared to address the needs of displaced populations while also considering its own citizens. Collaborative humanitarian efforts and cross-border support mechanisms take on paramount importance.
As Nigeria contemplates potential responses, diplomatic considerations take center stage. The Tinubu Government treads a diplomatic tightrope, aiming to foster regional stability without overtly interfering in Niger’s internal matters. The call for political and diplomatic solutions resonates strongly, urging Nigeria to leverage its influence within ECOWAS and the African Union.
Amidst discussions of military intervention, a chorus of cautionary voices emerges from legal experts and political figures alike. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa, expresses skepticism regarding the wisdom of military involvement. Others, such as former lawmaker Shehu Sani, underscore the necessity of weighing the consequences and lessons from global military interventions.
Senators representing northern states voice concerns about the potential fallout from military action. The Northern Senators Forum underscores the importance of exhausting political and diplomatic avenues before resorting to military intervention. The implications of such action on northern states along the Niger border highlight the significance of their perspective.
In the midst of this debate, a common citizen raises pertinent questions. Alhaji Saka Agunbiade, a trader at Oja Tuntun, Ilorin, echoes the sentiment that Nigeria has its own challenges to contend with. He questions the wisdom of diverting resources from internal issues to engage in the affairs of neighboring nations.
Jibrin Samuel Okutepa SAN cautions President Bola Ahmed Tinubu against deploying the Nigerian military to resolve the crisis in the Republic of Niger.
Okutepa, in a series of tweets via his Twitter handle on Saturday morning, hopes that the National Assembly will not approve Tinubu’s request to send the Nigerian military to Niger to fight a ‘senseless war’ aimed at restoring democratic government in that country.
“I just hope the National Assembly will not approve the request to send our military to Niger Republic to fight a senseless war of restoring democratic government in that country.”
Former lawmaker Shehu Sani also urges the Senate not to approve President Bola Tinubu’s request for military action against the Republic of Niger.
In a post on his social media platform on Friday, Sani urges Tinubu not to be misled by foreign powers.
However, Sani believes that senators should carefully consider the implications and consequences of their decisions, especially those representing states with borders with Niger.
“The Nigerian Senate should not approve any military action against Niger Republic. This country should not be plunged into war and eventually trapped in conflict in the Sahel.
“President Tinubu shouldn’t allow himself to be misled by foreign powers. The examples of Saudi in Yemen, America in Afghanistan, and now Russia in Ukraine should remind us that wars do not conclude within days, weeks, or months.
“Senators should thoughtfully weigh the implications and consequences of their decisions, particularly those representing states along the Niger border.
“President Tinubu should continue exploring diplomatic channels and prioritize saving the lives of those who might be sacrificed,” he asserts.
On their part, the Northern Senators in the 10th National Assembly caution President Bola Ahmed Tinubu against employing military intervention to resolve the crisis in Niger.
Sen. Suleiman Sumaila, the spokesperson for the Northern Senators Forum, discloses this in a statement on Friday. The group of Senators urges the President to embrace political and diplomatic means to restore democratic governance in Niger.
According to the Northern Senator Forum (NSF), military intervention in Niger would impact states including Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe, and Borno.
“Emphasis should be on political and diplomatic means to restore democratic government in the Niger Republic.
“We also take exception to the use of military force until other avenues, as mentioned above, are exhausted, as the consequences would entail casualties among innocent citizens engaged in their daily activities. Furthermore, about seven northern states bordering Niger Republic, namely Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe, and Borno, would be adversely affected.”
Joseph Daudu (SAN) does not believe that Tinubu is unaware of the implications of his assertive stance against Niger Republic.
“If he is unaware, at least the realists in his team must have assessed the implications by now. This approach carries grave religious and ethnic repercussions.
“There exists a line of thought encouraging him to take this assertive stance. No nation goes to war on behalf of neocolonialists and other parasitic global powers to enforce democracy. What happened to the principle of ‘Non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations,’ which Western nations adhere to rigorously?
“Why is Mr. President speaking more loudly than the bereaved? Are the strategies to secure votes and win an election not comparable or even more detrimental than a coup d’état?
“I believe the customary platitudes should have been expressed by our President, leaving the people of Niger to resolve their own matters.”
Alhaji Saka Agunbiade, a trader at Oja Tuntun, Ilorin, expresses that this is not the immediate concern for Nigeria. He believes that Nigeria has its own challenges to address and questions the wisdom of diverting resources away from domestic issues to engage in the affairs of neighboring nations.
President Tinubu should focus on resolving the issue of insecurity in the country. Boko Haram and kidnappings are ongoing daily. This, according to him, should be the immediate focus for Nigeria.
Mrs. Ebun Kolawale adds that the money and resources earmarked for executing military intervention in Niger could be channeled towards developing infrastructure in Nigeria.
People are suffering from hunger, inadequate roadways, lack of electricity, and access to clean water. These, she contends, should be the government’s primary concerns.
As Nigeria stands at this crossroads, the Tinubu Government must meticulously chart its course of action. While diplomatic efforts hold promise, the country’s leadership must also address its own pressing concerns, from insurgency to infrastructural development.
The political turmoil in Niger Republic compels Nigeria and the Tinubu Government to tread cautiously. While the specter of military intervention looms, the collective wisdom of cautionary voices, legal experts, and concerned citizens emphasizes the importance of considering both short-term actions and long-term consequences.
As neighboring West African nations grapple with military rule, Nigeria’s response will play a pivotal role in shaping the region’s trajectory, one that navigates the delicate balance between stability, sovereignty, and the well-being of its citizens.