The recent expulsion of Mali, the Niger Republic, and Burkina Faso from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, has alarmed stakeholders, who claim it presents grave questions regarding Nigeria’s security.

The development coincides with claims of infiltration and conclusions from Western nations, particularly the USA and Russia, with a significant concentration of Wagner Brothers fighters in the area.

Following their respective coups, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso declared on Sunday that they were leaving the ECOWAS as a result of what they described as unlawful and cruel sanctions.

In addition, the three nations informed the African Union, AU, and the UN of their intention to leave the regional economic bloc, citing worries over the organization’s departure from its original ideals and the influence of outside forces.

The three nations were previously barred from ECOWAS, with Niger and Mali subject to harsh sanctions as a result of the military takeovers of power that occurred in Burkina Faso (2022), Niger (2023), and Mali (2020 and 2021).

The three countries’ military chiefs revealed in a joint statement on Sunday that they had made the “sovereign decision” to withdraw “without delay” from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

“After 49 years of existence, the brave people of Burkina, Mali and Niger note with much regret, bitterness and great disappointment that their Organization has moved away from the ideals of its founding fathers and Pan-Africanism terrorist hordes.

“Furthermore, ECOWAS, under the influence of foreign powers, betrayed its founding principles and has become a threat to its member states and populations whose happiness is supposed to ensure.

“Indeed, the Organization has not provided assistance to our States in the context of our existential fight against terrorism and insecurity; worse, when these States decided to take their destiny into their own hands, it adopted an irrational and unacceptable posture by imposing illegal, illegitimate, inhumane and irresponsible sanctions in violation of its texts, all things which have further weakened populations already bruised by years of violence inflicted by instrumentalized and remote-controlled”, part of the statement read.

Additionally, they said that the regional organization had failed to assist them in combating the jihadists who invaded Mali in 2012 and later spread to Burkina Faso and Niger.

ZINGTIE remembers how France had expelled troops and ambassadors due to pressure from the military governments, only to see Russia step in and take over both militarily and politically.

The withdrawal of the French troops from the Sahel, an area of Africa along the Sahara desert, has also raised fears that the hostilities may extend southward to the states bordering the Gulf of Guinea, including Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.

According to ZINGTIE, Niger, for example, is a crucial partner in the war against terrorism and insurgency in the Sahel and a center for military and humanitarian operations. It is also well-known for producing uranium.

Numerous development partners, including the United States, which has hailed Niger as a model democracy, have extended substantial help to the nation due to its significance in the battle against terrorism.

Many think that military control might sabotage current peace efforts and give terrorist organizations more ability to reorganize and escalate their operations in the Sahel.

Some parties, however, think that the West African bloc and Nigeria will lose the most from this latest standoff.

Additionally, while some have defended Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, others have criticized the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Community for failing to find a solution.

The 15-nation ECOWAS bloc, established in 1975 to “promote economic integration” in its member states, is widely regarded as the leading political and regional authority in West Africa. However, in recent years, it has struggled to end numerous coups in the region, where residents have complained that they do not benefit from its abundant natural resources.

The ECOWAS, which is presently headed by Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, announced on Sunday that it had yet to receive a notification of withdrawal from either state.

The statement said, “The ECOWAS Commission is yet to receive any direct formal notification from the three member states about their intention to withdraw from the Community.

“The ECOWAS Commission, as directed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government, has been working assiduously to restore constitutional order in those countries.

“Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali remain important members of the Community, and the Authority remains committed to finding a negotiated solution to their political impasses.

“The ECOWAS Commission remains seized with the development and shall make further pronouncements as the situation evolves”.

On Monday, though, the Nigerian government responded, expressing regret over a statement made by three ECOWAS members.

The Nigerian government recalled that ECOWAS has strived to promote peace, prosperity, and democracy in the region in a statement signed by Francisca Omayuli, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Nigeria.

The statement claims Nigeria has made an honest and sincere effort to assist the ECOWAS family members in resolving their issues.

“Nigeria expresses its sadness over the pronouncement by the Military authority in the Republic of Niger indicating that the Republics of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have withdrawn membership of their countries from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

“Nigeria has worked sincerely and in good faith to reach out to all members of the ECOWAS family to resolve the difficulties being faced. It is now clear that those seeking to quit the Community do not share that same good faith,” part of the statement read.

Nigeria also emphasized that it is still willing to work with Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger so that everyone in the area may continue to gain economically from ECOWAS and the democratic ideals it upholds while pleading with the international community to support ECOWAS in the future.

In response to the news, Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) nominee for president in the most recent general election, voiced worries about Nigeria’s security.

He called it a “serious diplomatic meltdown” and “concerning.”

Former Vice President Atiku assessed the situation and urged Nigeria to protect national security interests against banditry and terrorism.

“Reports about the withdrawal of three countries from our sub-regional body, @ecowas_cedeao, is concerning” he wrote on his X handle.

“It is a matter of serious diplomatic meltdown. We must keep the country’s national security interest, especially the fight against terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and others in focus while we appraise the situation.”

Senator Shehu Sani, a social critic and former lawmaker, called the departure of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso from ECOWAS a serious blow to West Africa and said it was a sign of the futility of communication and diplomacy.

According to Sani, Nigeria has lost its African blood brothers as a result of its conditional friendship with the West.

“The Withdrawal of Mali, Niger Republic and Burkina Faso from Ecowas is a serious setback for West Africa.

“It signifies the failure of diplomacy and dialogue. We lost our African blood brothers because of our Western conditional friends.

“We sacrificed our hands to keep our wristwatches,” Sani wrote on his X handle.

Also discussing the subject, former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bolaji Akinyemi claimed that the ECOWAS has become a battleground between Russia and the United States during his Monday appearance on Arise Televion’s Morning Show.

According to Akinyemi, ECOWAS is concerned about the three countries’ decisions.

He said, “We have a crisis at hand, and I call it a crisis because, in terms of landmass, that’s about half of ECOWAS, so we’re not dealing with just a little hiccup on our hands.

“ECOWAS is being turned into a confrontational field between Russia and the USA. The fact that this statement came just after U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken left Nigeria is significant, and we should pay attention to it.

“Another issue is that Guinea has a military regime, but the country is not going along with these three, whether in their alliance or kicking out the French.

“They said they’re leaving immediately; however, ECOWAS protocol says one year, and you carry out all your responsibilities during that one year. With their decision to leave immediately, will you force them to stay or use the confusing situation to try to bring palliative into it?”

Akinyemi said that Russia needs to cease interfering in the West African bloc and that Nigeria needs to perform its part.

“There must be a role for Nigeria. Nigeria does not have a hostile relationship with Russia. Therefore, there should be some tough talk between the foreign ministry and the Russian embassy.

“Nigeria, which shares a common border with Niger, does not want a topsy-turvy diplomatic situation.

“We don’t want to be victims of the confrontation going on between Russia and NATO, and we see the hand of Russia in these people leaving, and we’re going to hold Russia responsible for bringing them back.

“I don’t believe that what is happening is going to be solved easily because we now have this confrontation between Russia and the Western countries and NATO. We should have that at the back of our minds,” he added.

Dr. Michael Ugwueze, a senior lecturer in the political science department at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, UNN, discussed the issue with ZINGTIE and stated that everyone should take the current developments in ECOWAS very seriously.

Ugwueze lamented that the military has been motivated to retake power by the leadership styles of West African nations.

Speaking to DAILY POST on the matter, Dr Michael Ugwueze, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, said the recent development in ECOWAS should be a very serious concern to everyone.

Ugwueze lamented that the style of leadership among West African countries has given the military the impetus to return to power.

He said, “The development in ECOWAS is a very serious concern to all the watchers. One critical thing is that if you check the three countries – Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, you will find out that, in terms of land mass, they constitute over half of ECOWAS land mass.

“It’s also very critical to the countries because they are landlocked. Therefore, they will be needing the services of neighbouring countries, although they can have Guinea as a friend from the other end.

“So, it is an issue on both sides: on the side of the exiting countries and on the side of others. And then, it is also happening at a time when President Bola Tinubu is the Chairperson of ECOWAS, and conditions surrounding his emergence as president too did not go down well with so many people. It explains a lot the bashing he received during his approach to military insurrection in Niger Republic.

“The condition leading to the suspension of those three countries from ECOWAS should be a serious concern to ECOWAS as a body because what happened in those three countries could also happen to other remaining twelve countries.

“And what is happening in the name of democracy, because their suspension was on the condition that they forcefully took over power from elected civilians, what is happening with democracy within the ECOWAS sub region should be a source of concern to ECOWAS as a body.

“This is because if the people are not feeling the impact of what indeed is called democracy, and what they witness happens to be as a result of authoritarian democracy, then it gives serious legitimacy to military rule when they take place in countries.

“There’s nothing that will prevent the military from taking over power other than when they see that the people will never give legitimacy to them.

“But with the kind of things happening, with the kind of leadership styles most of these ECOWAS countries exhibit, they appear to give credence to military takeover of power. And that is bringing the sub region back to a wave of military rule.

“It should be a concern to ECOWAS that these countries, hitherto people thought that military takeover had become quite difficult, but the style of leadership has given them impetus to return to power.

“The other one is that Nigeria as a country, not just a member of ECOWAS, you know at the mention of ECOWAS, over fifty percent of the resources sustaining ECOWAS comes from Nigeria, which means if Nigeria withdraws from the body, it will almost appear a collapsed body.

“What happens in the international system is that such a country uses such an opportunity to get what it wants from the international system. That’s using the body (ECOWAS) to achieve the national interest of Nigeria; that’s what strong countries do in the international system.

“However, Nigeria is merely playing Father Christmas. Despite the resources it commits to ECOWAS, its decision doesn’t usually stand so strong.

“So, with the three countries exiting, it doesn’t stand very well with ECOWAS. It will indeed shake ECOWAS. One is that when they extended suspension to Burkina Faso, it didn’t force the military junta to relinquish power.

“The same thing happened in Mali, and now in Niger. And you can see that these three countries are already forming a bloc, which means that if anything happens to the remaining countries, they will easily find friendship with them and that’s how an organization collapses.

“ECOWAS should ask itself a critical question: ‘why is it that despite everything, Burkina Faso stood, followed by Mali and then Niger. And these three countries are now found sharing ideas, so that all the other sanctions and economic sanctions from ECOWAS may be continued to be weakened, given that they are now forming strong body and force that could even now challenge ECOWAS to now start to reconsider some of those economic sanctions because they appear not to be yielding significant results.”

Professional private security manager Comrade Isaiah Adanu, who also spoke with ZINGTIE, expressed great alarm over the trend, stating that the Nigerian military may be taking a page from its counterparts in other countries.

However, Adanu counseled Nigeria and the ECOWAS to prioritize true government by prioritizing the welfare of the people and member states.

“The concern of Nigeria appears huge in the sense that military guys in Nigeria may take a cue from their counterparts in the aforementioned states to replicate same in Nigeria.

“Life may eventually be snuffed out of democratic rule perhaps on minor provocation after we have enjoyed uninterrupted transition from one civilian rule to another.

“There might be near or total absence of cooperation which will in turn encourage proliferation of light weapons and firearms.

“Foreign countries may take advantage of their exit from ECOWAS to sow seeds of disunity and discord among and between countries of the west Africa sub region,” he stated.

According to him, ECOWAS members “are encouraged to, among other things, intensify dialogue through its diplomatic shuttle.

“Nigeria and ECOWAS are also advised to prioritize real governance by placing a premium on the welfare of the citizens and member states.

“The duo of Nigeria and ECOWAS are expected to discourage corruption and primitive accumulation of wealth.

“Those fanning the embers of military rule through mindless accusation, shenanigan and unproductive opposition should be treated as enemies of Nigeria and the sub regional entity called ECOWAS.”

Source Link

Please don’t forget to “Allow the notification” so you will be the first to get our gist when we publish it. 
Drop your comment in the section below, and don’t forget to share the post.