The Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) is out with those cautioning the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against a military option in resolving the military take-over of power in the Republic of Nigeria. AAIN said in a statement Sunday (August 6th, 2023) that, in restoring democracy, ECOWAS should consider the immediate and long-term implications of its actions on the people of the Niger Republic and the wider West African sub-region.
Although the association is in strong condemnation of military seizure of power in Niger Republic and is also in support of efforts of ECOWAS towards restoring democracy in the West African country, it is, however, in favour of addressing the root causes of the political crisis in that country and then strengthening the democratic institutions. That, it says, is vital to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region. AANI, therefore, urges caution against immediate military action. Instead, non-military options like diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions should be adopted towards a peaceful resolution and a quicker return to democratic governance in the Niger Republic, the statement said.
Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman (rtd), the National Publicity Secretary of the association who signed the statement is saying that military action by ECOWAS could escalate the current situation into a humanitarian crisis and worsen the security challenges in the West African sub-region. “It may also escalate tensions in the fragile security situation in the Lake Chad region and other parts of West Africa, attracting other armed groups and external actors to take advantage of it”, he added, fearing that such could exacerbate the security challenges and create a more complex and dangerous situation. He thus thinks it is, therefore, essential to prioritise peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the political crisis.
The spokesperson advises ECOWAS to upscale diplomatic efforts to persuade the military leaders in Niger to relinquish power and allow the democratically elected government to reclaim the people’s mandate. By avoiding military intervention, ECOWAS would have demonstrated commitment to peaceful conflict resolution and regional stability, it is also argued.
“AANI believes that finding durable solutions to the prevailing political crisis in Niger Republic lies in prioritising the well-being of the civilian population and upholding the principles of democracy, human rights, and regional cooperation within ECOWAS. Its only through peaceful means that ECOWAS can ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the people of Niger Republic and the broader West African community”.
Readers are reminded in the statement that the Alumni Association of the National Institute of Nigeria (AANI) is an organization of products of the Senior Excutive Course (SEC) of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru and that, as products of NIPSS, AANI plays a crucial role in policy formulation and implementation strategies to contribute towards a better society. Through its network of highly qualified and experienced professionals from diverse fields, AANI fosters a collaborative approach towards addressing key challenges in the country, offering valuable insights and expertise to shape effective policies that promote social, economic, and political development in Nigeria, it was added.
Columnists, religious groups, regional platforms and other players in the system are having a field day stating their own positions on the issue of how best to engage with the coup makers in the vast West African country which is also a hub of international military presence spanning the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Russia in a way. This configuration suggests that a military action can run in several directions.
If there is a chance it would be a lightning operation which is over within an hour or so, a military action could have been welcome for whatever it is worth. But, in the post-Cold War, there have almost been no such successful operation. The United States succeeded in invading and killing Osama bin Laden in a fortress in Pakistan. But the tension that marked the operation from the elaborate planning to the one hour or so the actual operation lasted made it such a scary outing.
The fear in informed circles is that a military action which will certainly be led by Nigeria will violate the unwritten rule against a hegemon throwing its weight around. If it is not careful, a David could embarrass it to its chagrin.