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Big brother Naija, no please! not Niger!

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May God Bless and assist us all to always make the best decisions. Ameen. But please, wetin dey bi this wahala? A beg. Please, no more war in Africa. We don tire. There is a current armed conflict between rival factions of the army in Sudan which is still not yet resolved. There is the Chadian intervention in northern Mali ongoing since 2013. There is the insurgency in Northern Chad since 2016. The Somalia civil war which commenced in the 1980s is still ongoing. Libya with its many armed factions, is now called a failed state, even though we know who failed it. The security situation in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea in West Africa is still critical and volatile. Central African Republic has its own fair share of historical wars and current instability. Mozambique. Democratic Republic of Congo. Etc. Etc. Amid such high-level insecurity and political crises, with some of the conflicts dating couple of decades back, do we really need another war in Africa where governments and state armies will be involved?

Yes, we get it Ecowas. There are rules for member countries. No military coup d’état. Respect for democracy. Respect the rules of engagement. However, now that the military has organised a coup, and we see mass popular support of the coup by the people of Niger, do we really have to beat the whole of Niger due to the action of the military? When you cut off electricity, who really suffers? When you invade the country and there is war, who really suffers? Will we not be putting women and children at grave risk and danger? Will you not be creating mass displacement and millions of refugees, and which country will take in the new refugees? Will the foreign countries who want to help be prepared to receive refugees? Are refugee tents and camps erected? Have you begun negotiations to send in food and medication to alleviate human suffering due to war? Have you warned civilians to evacuate? Will war not bring about resurgence of increased Boko Haram style groups? If Mali and Burkina Faso make good on their promise to support Niger, would this not be a long, nasty and bloody war? At the end of the destruction, killing and pillage, who truly wins? Who reigns supreme, and over what remains? Who rebuilds and at what cost? Yes, we agree that the Niger military should immediately release President Bazoum. Let the military ensure that there is return to civilian rule as soon as possible. Let the military ensure that people are not harmed. Let all of these requests be sounded off first as sensible pleas, diplomatic, respectful, and then could be escalated into ultimatum in the case of no reasonable response. Once these requests are assured, then Ecowas should do its best to ensure that security, stability and normalcy is returned to Niger. This is what Ecowas should be known for. Peace and conflict resolution. Armed conflict should only be in a situation where and when the Niger military would have crossed the very last red line, after several warnings, and the people suffer because of the actions of the military. It is not cowardice to give peace and negotiation a chance. Rather, it is wisdom to prevent killing, destruction and human suffering.

Have we not been fooled enough? 9/11/ and the Twin Towers. WMD. Afghanistan. Iraq. Oil for food. Guantanamo. Abu Ghraib. Arab Spring and Libya. Arab Spring and Egypt. Remember Morsi? Palestine. Covid. Ukraine.

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In conclusion, I would like to quote retired Gambian Lt Colonel and former commander of the Gambia National Army (GNA), Samsudeen Sarr, who in a newspaper article published on the 03rd August 2023 with The Standard newspaper, said that: “Given the current circumstances, I IMPLORE President Barrow, whom I wholeheartedly support, not to approve the participation of the Gambia Armed Forces in this risky and ill-advised mission of attacking Niger. I second this and join my voice to that of Mr Samsudeen Sarr to further implore, humbly and respectfully, that it may not be prudent at this moment to participate in or advise a military “invasion” of Niger. Wait and weigh all options. Discuss and discuss some more. Exhaust all possibilities for peaceful outcomes. Mr Sarr flagged important justifications which should not be overlooked and waived under the carpet, but rather carefully regarded and studied.

Whether we realise it or not, acknowledge it or not, there is some sort of awakening movement in French West Africa. The militaries in the countries are definitely talking to each other. They have decided to wean themselves off of a certain neocolonial patronage. They have each other’s backs. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, or not. Time will tell. We shall see. The military in every country and government is powerful. Not to be downplayed. The moment a military is armed and equipped, it is empowered and given some form of authority. Not to rule of course, but to ensure peace and security within and without, However, the military in every government, especially West Africa in particular, should be dealt with carefully. The military should be empowered, but at the same time kept in sensible check and balance. Our military in The Gambia has its own challenges to deal with. Capacities to be built. Improvements to be made. Insecurities and threats to be eliminated. Certain security gains and opportunities to be consolidated. Ultimately, Niger shall heal inshaa’Allah. We solemnly pray that the Ecowas and its member countries shall contribute towards a successful and sustainable healing process in Niger. Not to deliberately or inadvertently aggravate an already precarious situation. At the beginning and at the end, what can we as Ecowas citizens do but solicit and pray? God bless The Gambia. God bless Ecowas. God bless Africa.  

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