Thursday, 7th December 2023

Niger: Hope rising

By AbduRafiu
25 August 2023   |   3:00 am
Tchiani and Tinubu General Abdulsalami Abubakar rising from a closed-door meeting with President Bola Tinubu has rekindled the longed-for hope that there may be no war after all to resolve the debacle in Niger Republic. Nigerians are vehemently opposed to our country participating in any invasion of Niger because any such invasion is unjust. As…

Tchiani and Tinubu

General Abdulsalami Abubakar rising from a closed-door meeting with President Bola Tinubu has rekindled the longed-for hope that there may be no war after all to resolve the debacle in Niger Republic. Nigerians are vehemently opposed to our country participating in any invasion of Niger because any such invasion is unjust. As Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer would say: “I no go Vietnam. I ain’t get no problem with Vietnam. Vietnam people no offend me!”

This was when the authorities in his native land of the United States sought to draft him to the Vietnam War. In his resistance, he threw his English name, Cassius Clay into the faces of the authorities and took on the name Muhammad Ali, the greatest. With the burden off his neck, he could now fly like a butterfly. He was Muhammad Ali to the end never to go back to Cassius Clay!

In their childlikeness, Nigerians are saying they “ain’t have no problem with Nigeriens.” Nevertheless, the world is waiting on Bola Tinubu. There is no doubt he is at a cross-roads. While his compatriots are opposed to war, the body of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government of which he is leader are not only pushing but rehearsing for war. ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah said at the weekend that although all options including a diplomatic solution remain on the table, a date for a possible military encounter has already been chosen, and predictably it is being kept strictly confidential. According to him, an ECOWAS mission would initially go to Niger.

Military chiefs from nine out of 15-member countries have already met for two days in Accra, Ghana. Apparently, a date has been chosen for a military action after some ECOWAS military chiefs visited Niger for an eyeball-to-eyeball discussion with the head of the military administration, General Abdourahamane Tchiani. The junta is adamant and it is saying it should be given three years to govern to straighten matters in its country. ECOWAS leaders, too, are not backing down in their resolve to go to war with the junta who threw out of the window the democratic order in Niger last month. This resolve will be bolstered by the decision of the African body, the AU, on Tuesday to suspend Niger from the continental union.

In its communiqué, the continental body says: “The AU decides, in line with the relevant AU instruments, in particular, the AU Constitutive Act, the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the peace and Security Council of the African Union and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, to immediately suspend the participation of the Republic of Niger from all activities of the AU and its organs and institutions until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country.

“The AU in this regard, calls upon all Member States of the AU and the international community including bilateral and multilateral partners at large, to reject this unconstitutional change of government and to refrain from any action likely to grant legitimacy to the illegal regime in Niger.”

Tinubu, a smart guy, knows he cannot afford to fold his arms. He is striving to extricate himself from the ill-timed and ominous web in the face of stiff opposition of public opinion. Indeed, Nasir el-Rufai has said invasion of Niger is war on the North. His pronouncement is an echo of what some Northern Governors unequivocally said even though the waves of opposition to any war involving Nigeria are sweeping through every part of the country for very obvious reasons. Six states directly share borders with the Republic of Niger.

A war will upscale the seemingly intractable security situation in the land, accentuated by Boko Haram insurgency and ravaging bandits setting fire on houses; and it will heighten social problems as refugees would swamp the IDP camps within the country which already has about two million displaced people around Maiduguri alone, and 700,000 in Katsina and more than one million in Benue and Niger states. The economy to support any war is in a shambles. Tinubu is therefore torn between satisfying his compatriots he leads and pleasing ECOWAS he heads in the name of Nigeria, the regional congregation that boasts of the hawk, Alassane Dramane Quattara, the Cote d’Ivoire President who is roaring to enter interminable years of hate in Niger versus the rest of ECOWAS shooting conflict. Three countries have already stationed their fighter jets in Niger to repel ECOWAS forces in case Quattara has way.

It cannot but be amazing that human beings talk glibly about war even when they have telling lessons to learn from what is happening around them—devastation, destruction of life and property, and uncertainties. Just consider Ukraine and Russia! Where there is just a little reflection on the state of affairs, whether it is fire in Haiti and Greece or the polluted water in Japan, we can’t but ask what this is all about: Is this how things are to continue? Why are we human beings on earth? Where is that peace and happiness? Yet the answer to why human beings are on earth cannot be any other than to find peace and happiness in this world, on this planet earth that the Almighty Creator and Ruler of the universe has graciously lent to us for our development and maturity. What is the key to peace and happiness?

We have the enlightenment in the higher knowledge available on earth today and it says: “If only you would better yourselves a little in the right manner, in such a way that you will swing undimmed and harmoniously with Primordial laws of Creation (and not always in the past have only a hampering effect due to your ignorance) then richest blessings would spring forth over everything, wherever you lend hand, no matter what you exert yourselves to undertake.” Is anybody in doubt that peace and happiness are richest blessings?

If we human beings agree that we did not create ourselves or the world in which we live, and cannot locate our houses when we are airborne in an aircraft flight, we must sense and indeed recognise that there is an authority which is behind the existence of everything before which we should unconditionally bow. The key to peace and happiness lies in recognising the Will or the Laws of this authority and unconditionally fulfilling them.

Then, we must ask ourselves about how that mighty authority defines peace and happiness. Unfortunately, this thinking is alien to us and we do not accept it as logical as it undoubtedly is. We believe might is right or that war begets peace. Thus, we believe in conquest whether we are a military junta which overruns an elected government, elected governments that seek to vanquish the ugly bear that is military interference in civil governance.

Violence and war are swelling over West Africa and may suck in some other regions of the earth. The looming confrontation between the Niger Republic and ECOWAS looks like a simple matter, but, on the other side of the coin, a complex one. Moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar level of contemplation we can ask:
*What business does Nigeria or ECOWAS have with the internal affairs of another country?
* If elected government of Niger Republic is governed well, will the military of Niger republic have a comfortable legroom to intervene in the country’s politics?
* If it does, can it be stated that hidden in its ulterior motive is the possibility of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism and is there a concerted plan with other irredentist countries to unleash mayhem on secular countries, including Nigeria? Could this be what ECOWAS wishes to prevent? Or is its intervention self-serving, fearing a contagious spread of unconstitutional governments in more places?

But then can we also ask:
*If Nigeria has impeccable evidence that the military men in Niger Republic are going to support Islamic fundamentalism and promote Boko Haram and ISWAP activities in these and other ECOWAS countries under civilian rule, what should ECOWAS countries do?

To answer this question we should remember that the deposed President of Niger Republic, Mohamed Bazoum worked harmoniously and collaboratively to minimize Boko Haram and ISWAP activities in Nigeria and under his rule France kept about 1,000 troops in his country to keep the fundamentalists in check. In other words, if we go further beyond the surface we recall that:
*France has a defence pact with Francophone countries. Under this pact, any attack on any of them is an attack on France.

The relationship is such that it is widely believed that their national fiscal budgets are shown to France and sometimes they await advice from Paris before they are presented to Parliament for rubber stamping. This means France still poses as master and feeds off them like a parasite. The new administration in Niger Republic says it has done away with all that. This is a threat to France’s finances and social well-being. France says it has no intention of recalling her troops in Niger to protect the President now toppled, Bazoum.

Diplomatic circles are asking if France has the money to fight a foreign war. Could she have easily forgotten her Indo-China experiences and the shattering defeat in 1954 by Ho chi Minh, the communist leader of North Vietnam at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, despite American heavy financial backing? The battle ended the dream of France to establish the Indo-Chinese Union and govern it. That union was to comprise Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Meanwhile, China had become a communist country and inspired Ho chi Minh to declare communism in Vietnam and make her a communist country. With North Vietnam secured, Ho chi Minh marched towards present-day South Vietnam.

The United States became militarily involved to save South Vietnam from the jaws of communism and roll communism back. In the end, the U.S. pulled out humiliated although she helped to save South Vietnam till this day. The French Indo-China war left us with two concepts of power which may play each other out in any military encounter between Niger Republic and ECOWAS.

Waging its war in China, Chairman Mao Tse Tung, the country’s leader, said power flowed from the barrel of the gun, which is the same as saying that might is right. But in the defeat of France in North Vietnam and in the forced withdrawal of the United States from South Vietnam, Ho chi Minh left Europeans and Americans in no doubt that power flows from the will of the people.

In Niger Republic, the military leader Abdourahamane Tchiani has called out the youths to rise and “defend their homeland.” This may be a way of telling Nigeriens to not fear the guns but to confront them with their will.
(Next Week: Going Beyond The Surface: Neither Militocracy nor Democracy and Religion is Recognised by the Higher, Holy Will, the Laws of Creation)!