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Hidden Facts Behind The Niger Coup Imbroglio And ECOWAS Stand-by Force

The Oasis Reporters

August 12, 2023








Nigerian President Bola Tinubu (left), chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), interacts with ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray during the bloc’s extraordinary session in Abuja, Nigeria, on Aug. 10.Kola Sulaimon/AFP via Getty Images


In order to understand the dynamics behind the bark by the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) and the recalcitrance of the coup leaders in Niger Republic, here are some key factors to consider.


Centuries before the area known as Niger became a Republic, long distance cross border trade was impossible since a modern nation had not emerged. Business was basically rudimentary, within smaller areas.

By the 19th century when colonialism came, there was nothing the people of the present day Niger, or indeed the Africans could do. The military power of the invaders, and their ability to project it anywhere they wanted on the continent, was unparalleled.

The colonial states established by the European powers over Africa (Niger inclusive) were not altruistic endeavors. They existed for the following reasons:


Resource extraction and exploitation.
The establishment of markets from which cheap raw materials could be imported and to which expensive finished goods could be exported.

Therefore colonization led to exploitation.
Decolonization led to instability and inter-ethnic strife.


Thus, France for instance, which colonized Niger Republic, had the extensive latitude to exploit the vast land for minerals, among which is Uranium.


Reason that one would later discover that for every three bulbs lighting up France, one is powered by the Uranium from Niger Republic that was gotten through unfair trade deals.

Meanwhile, Niger is in darkness, yet France is bright and beautiful. The youths of Niger are therefore asking questions.


Then the River Niger that flows through Niger into Nigeria is dammed at Kainji to supply electricity to Nigeria, and some of it to Niger Republic by preexisting protocols.


The Nigerienne military moved and overthrew the democratic government of their country that they believe is pliant as the coup leaders are asking questions about France and it’s practices, the Nigerian government moves to turn off the electricity supply to Niger Republic.


Their being in darkness is critically affecting hospital services and many other areas of national life.

Here’s a write-up, Saving Face published in Foreign Policy:

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Thursday that it had ordered the deployment of a “standby force” to Niger to restore constitutional order. What that force will entail, though, is still unclear.

No timeline or other specifics were given. The announcement came after the bloc convened an emergency meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss the crisis in Niger and its previous threat of militarily intervening if the coup’s leaders did not reinstate Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum by last Sunday.

Sending troops into a member nation would be an significant move for the bloc, one that Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who chairs ECOWAS and supports intervention, has called a last resort.

Niger’s junta has warned that it will kill Bazoum if any attempt is made to restore him to power via military intervention. But drastic action is looking more and more likely, especially after United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for the immediate release of Bazoum and his family, who are being held in the presidential palace with limited food and no electricity.

On Wednesday, Nigeria’s former central bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, met with coup leaders in Niamey to begin talks. But the junta appeared unwilling to budge without first receiving major concessions, including easing sanctions on the military regime to allow medicine and food to enter the country as well as forcing Nigeria to restore electricity to Niger.

But catering to junta demands and looking wishy-washy over its threat of military intervention is not a great look for the regional bloc. ECOWAS has long been considered “the strongest, the toughest, the most organized of all of these regional bodies” in Africa, said Cameron Hudson, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Yet its history as a prevention-oriented body instead of a crisis-response one is affecting its ability to respond to the Niger situation. ECOWAS is “not NATO,” Hudson said. “It’s not built on 80 years of experience in a host of countries that all have a similar level of the rule of law. ECOWAS is as strong or as weak as the person who is chairing ECOWAS.”

Meanwhile, Niger’s coup leaders announced their new cabinet on Monday. Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, a civilian economist, will lead the junta as prime minister.

Twenty-one ministers will serve under him, including three military generals as the ministers of defense, interior, and sports. No Nigerien representative, nor the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea—who all sided with Niger’s junta—attended Thursday’s ECOWAS meeting.

©Foreign Policy
Habib F
Greg Abolo


Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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