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Mambayya House Calls on ECOWAS to Rethink a Strategy for Reinstating Democracy in Niger

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Lukman Abdulmalik
The Aminu Kano for Democratic Studies, Bayero University Kano, Mambayya House says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should rethink a strategy for reinstating democratic government in Niger Republic.
It made the assertion at a roundtable discussion on ‘The Niger Coup and ECOWAS Intervention: Perspectives on Multi-sectoral Implications for Nigeria,’ organized by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, Bayero University, Kano, on Wednesday.
The roundtable discussion which was organized to appraise the fast-moving events was attended by academicians, diplomats, media professionals, and civil society organizations to discuss issues and proffered alternative solutions to military intervention in the coup that took place on July 26, 2023, by General Abdorahamane Tchiani, who overthrew President Muhamed Bazoum.
In his welcome address, Amb. Muhammad Bala Sani, Chairman of the event, stated that the ECOWAS should dialogue with the military junta to return power to a democratically elected government.
He said: “Waging war with the Republic of Niger is unthinkable because, during times of insecurity, the Republic of Niger housed over 500 thousand Nigerian refugees.”
Professor Tijjani Naniya, speaking on the historical relationship between Nigeria and Niger, stated that both countries have mutually supported each other on critical issues of national security, including the vital role played by Niger during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) and its current accommodation of Nigerian refugees from the North-East and North-West geopolitical zones. 
“The relationship between Nigeria and the Republic of Niger is based on human interaction, region, and commerce.”
“Nigeria and Niger Republic are predominantly Hausa speakers, with origins in Agadez, the central region; Kanuri from the northwest; Fulani from the central; and Zabarmawa from the east of Niger Republic.
“When colonial rule was established, Nigeria and Niger had the longest and busiest border in terms of politics and commerce.”
“The trans-Sahara trade had a necessary history in raising the Sokoto Caliphate and a massive market in Northwest Nigeria.”
While Professor Sani Lawal Malumfashi of BUK’s Department of Sociology stated that the conflict will have an impact on the socio-cultural relationship between Nigeria and Niger, he also stated that “mistrust will be built socio-culturally and economics will suffer.”
During a discussion on the political and diplomatic implications, professor Abubakar Jika Jiddere of BUK’s Department of Political Science pointed out that military intervention is not a war but rather a forceful intervention to press the junta to hand over power.
Jiddere stated that, in terms of resolving disputes, military intervention is the last resort, stressing that the use of military strategies by the ECOWAS in the first place was wrong.
He went on to say that “if war breaks out, Nigeria will bear the heaviest burden.”
“In addition, decision-makers have not aligned Nigeria’s National Interest in the intervention.”
While presenting potential solutions, Jiddere emphasized that “ECOWAS must withdraw from the military trade and implement a transition that will provide a solution; otherwise, Nigeria will be disappointed.”
“Involve the junta and sign an agreement for the transfer of power to civilian rule.”
Auwalu Bala Durumin Iya, Managing Director of Walewas Security, stressed that a diplomatic and humanitarian approach should be adopted.
“Also, the model of Alternative Dispute Resolution, (ADR) should be considered as a way to resolve the issues rather than waging war.
He recommended that conflict management, early warning, and early response strategies be implemented.
Speaking on the economic implications, Dr. Abdulssalam Muhammad Kani, an economist at Sa’adatu Rimi University of Education, Kano, said: “In 2022, the total trading between Nigeria and Nigeria was estimated at N171 billion, while in 2021, the total export was USD 56.8 million.
Dr. Kani revealed that the weekly trade and commerce loss between Nigeria and Niger is estimated to be N36 billion.
“If war is declared, investment in the West African Sub-region will suffer, as will the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”
“There will also be an increase in Nigeria’s defense budget, which will result in a deficit and affect a wide range of sectors.”
Highlights of the event were issues raised and recommendations in a communique at the end of the event.
One of the recommendations contained in a communique issued at the end of the roundtable discussion was that the ECOWAS should rethink a strategy for reinstating a democratic structure in Niger.

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