Nigerians express mixed feelings over country’s planned military intervention in Niger

Nigerians express mixed feelings over country’s planned military intervention in Niger

Leaders of ECOWAS will meet Thursday in Nigeria to discuss way forward on Niger after coup leaders defied ultimatum to restore President Bazoum to power

By Ibrahim Shuaibu and Hassan Isilow

KANO, Nigeria (AA) – Nigerians expressed mixed feelings Wednesday over their country’s plans to send troops into neighboring Niger as part of a regional force should a West African regional bloc approve military intervention.

A group of soldiers calling themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country seized power in Niger on July 26 and detained President Mohamed Bazoum.

Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the head of Niger's presidential guard, declared himself the new leader of the country on July 28.

On July 30, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an emergency meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja and issued a one-week ultimatum to the coup leaders to reinstate Bazoum or they would use force. But the coup leaders defied the ultimatum, prompting ECOWAS to call for a second meeting on Thursday in Nigeria to discuss the crisis in Niger and the way forward.

-Reactions

Some Nigerians who spoke to Anadolu on Wednesday said their country faces challenges of insecurity that the government should first fix before helping a neighboring state.

“The deteriorating security challenges facing the country are something that needs to be addressed. We are facing banditry, terrorism and robbery. Nigerians always sleep with one eye closed because of kidnappings. President Bola Tinubu's attention should be more focused on Nigeria,” said Ahmad Muhammad, a resident of Magama in Jibia, a border town with Niger.

Muhammad said that sanctions against Niger have affected local businesses in northern Nigeria, where cross-border trade has boomed for years, but commercial activities have now been crippled as a result of sanctions and the border closure.

Musa Abdullahi Sufi, a senior lecturer with Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, told Anadolu that “the use of military force by the Nigerian army to restore democracy in Niger Republic will not augur well for the citizens of two countries who share the same traditions, religion and have intermarried.”

Sufi said the good people-to people relations currently enjoyed by Nigerians and Nigeriens could also be ruined if the Nigerian army joins other ECOWAS member states in using force to restore democracy in Niger.

ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Niger, and Nigeria has cut off electricity supply to its neighbor to put pressure on the coup leaders to reinstate the democratically elected president.

Ahmoud Bhuraima, a Niger citizen in Nigeria, said Nigeriens are “disappointed by the plans of Nigeria to deploy troops to Niger should ECOWAS approve.”

“This action will create serious hardships for the people of my country, Niger. We are appealing to the Nigerian government to rescind this plan.”

On Wednesday, President Tinubu said the planned decision to use force in Niger, sanctions and the ultimatum to restore Niger’s ousted president were all decisions of ECOWAS and not Nigeria’s.

-Support for planned military intervention

However, Bashir Muhammad Bashir, an analyst based in Kano, said it is necessary for Nigeria to join ECOWAS forces in returning democracy to Niger, owing to the fact that President Tinubu is the bloc’s current chairman.

"Nigeria has a gallant military force that has specialized in peacekeeping operations. The military has proven themselves as professional. Their deployment to the Niger Republic will not cost Nigeria, since they share a border,’’ he added.

Legal practitioner Abdulgafar Oladimeji said Nigeria, as a member of ECOWAS, has the right to involve itself in resolving the crisis in Niger as required by the 15-member-state bloc.

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