Why Nigeria should not intervene Militarily in Niger

Niger and Nigeria Border Post

 The relationship between Nigeria and Niger is based on a long shared border and common cultural and historical interactions. Both countries are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc that promotes cooperation and integration in various fields. Nigeria, as the most populous and powerful country in West Africa, has often played a leading role in ECOWAS, especially in resolving conflicts and crises in the region. Niger, as a landlocked and impoverished country, has relied on Nigeria for trade and security assistance. 

However, the relationship has also faced some challenges, such as border disputes, smuggling, migration, terrorism, and environmental issues.

The border between Niger and Nigeria cuts through one of the more densely populated areas of both nations.

 It also bisects the northern section of Hausaland, the home of the Hausa people, who share a common language and culture across the border. The border was drawn by the colonial powers of France and Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, without regard for the ethnic and historical ties of the people living there. 

During colonial rule, trade and relations across the border were discouraged by the rival interests of France and Britain. After independence in 1960, both countries pursued close relations based on non-interference in each other's internal affairs. Niger supported Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War, while Nigeria mediated in Niger's political crises.

However, the relationship has also been strained by some factors, such as the division of Lake Chad, which is shared by four countries: Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria. The lake has shrunk significantly due to climate change and overuse of water resources, affecting the livelihoods and security of millions of people who depend on it.

 The four countries have not reached a formal agreement on how to manage the lake and its resources. Another issue is the threat of terrorism and insurgency in the region, especially from groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which have carried out attacks in both countries. Nigeria and Niger have cooperated in fighting these groups, along with other regional partners such as Chad and Cameroon, under the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). However, the security situation remains volatile and complex.

Coup in Niger

A recent event that has implications for the relationship between Nigeria and Niger is the coup d'état that took place in Niger on 26 July 2023, when a group of soldiers from the presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum and declared themselves the new rulers of the country.

 They suspended the constitution, dissolved all institutions, and closed the borders. They said they acted because of the worsening security and economic situation in Niger, which is a key ally of the West in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region. 

The coup was condemned by the international community, including ECOWAS, which threatened to use force to restore democracy in Niger. Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also the chair of ECOWAS, has taken a leading role in trying to resolve the crisis peacefully. He sent Beninese President Patrice Talon as an ECOWAS mediator to Niger's capital Niamey to negotiate with the junta. He also convened an emergency meeting of ECOWAS heads of state in Abuja to discuss possible actions to restore constitutional order in Niger.

The outcome of this crisis will have significant consequences for both Nigeria and Niger, as well as for regional stability and security. If ECOWAS succeeds in restoring democracy in Niger peacefully, it will boost its credibility and effectiveness as a regional organization. 

It will also strengthen Nigeria's leadership role and influence in West Africa. If ECOWAS fails or resorts to military intervention, it could worsen the situation in Niger and trigger more violence and instability in the region. It could also damage Nigeria's reputation and relations with other countries.

There are different opinions and perspectives on whether Nigeria should intervene in Niger or not. Some people may argue that Nigeria has a moral and strategic obligation to support democracy and stability in its neighbor, especially as Niger is a key ally in the fight against terrorism and insecurity in the region. 

Others may contend that Nigeria should not interfere in the internal affairs of another sovereign state, and that military intervention could have negative consequences for both countries, such as escalating violence, worsening humanitarian crisis, and damaging diplomatic relations. 

Nigerian should not support the military invasion of Niger by Ecowas or any other power. Some of the reasons include respecting Niger's sovereignty, avoiding regional instability, preserving Nigeria's democracy, and saving lives and resources.

Writer Obinna Amajuoyi

Political Analyst 

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