In the 21st century, instead of learning from our past mistakes and making gradual improvements, we are again seeing a group of military hooligans and hoodlums betraying their nation and profession by staging a coup against a legitimately elected government in Niger.
While we will not dwell on the history of Niger, it suffices to say that whatever mess the country is in, it cannot be blamed exclusively on civilian governments as the military has spent more time governing the country since independence, and this crop of military deviants who don’t represent the majority of the soldiers of Niger who remain loyal to their constitution, country, and flag and are not part of the selfish and corrupt clique of individuals itching to feed on the carcass of a fragile nation under the guise of fighting the insurgents and corruption.
We have seen this movie too often before now and while we have seen some organized protests seeming to support the usurpers in Niamey, we must not mistake that for the expressed will of the people as even the devil can muster such support anywhere where to appear and seize power.
Consequently, we must focus on how to resolve this issue expeditiously because of the potential threats that it poses not only to the region but also to the long-term strategic security and stability of Nigeria.
The president has taken the right initiatives in this matter to date including reports of his communications to the senate on the possibility of military actions to restore democracy in Niger. However, the decision of the Senate is quite unfortunate, given the need for the nation to speak with one voice.
This infamous decision of the Senate notwithstanding the president has inherent constitutional authority on issues of national security to act with or without the consent of the National Assembly and he should.
The country borders Nigeria and any instability there will spill over into our country and further destabilize our homeland, thus the president must continue as a matter of urgency to mobilise public support locally while deepening engagements with leaders of ECOWAS and the international community to immediately negotiate the unconditional withdrawal of the military from power backed by a credible threat of military action by ECOWAS forces if negotiations fail. As negotiation commences we must make clear the following:
1. The coup plotters must relinquish power unconditionally.
2. The soldiers involved in the coup must be prosecuted for treason and violations of constitutional order by a regional court set up by ECOWAS.
3. That negations will not exceed 120 days.
4. That ECOWAS reserves the right to take military action to achieve its goal of restoring democracy in Niger.
Some have alluded to the military coming to clean out corruption that has eaten the country hollow a claim that is bogus as the governance records of the Nigerien military is not any better than those they seek to replace nor can they fight the insurgents any better.
This is just a pretence and an appetite or quest for power and personal aggrandizement and we must put a stop to this madness and military adventurism that appears to be gaining steam again in the sub-region for they have nothing to offer, but empty rhetoric, more corruption, cronyism, tyranny and abuse of civil liberties.
While we recognise the economic challenges in our own country and the sub-region, we believe our government is capable of effectively managing this crisis along with governing the country. It must also be clear that military action is not the first option, but rather part of the tool kit and a coercive to help achieve peace.
On the situation in the country and sub-region, we urge those in authority to understand that to keep democracy in the sub-region the lives and wellbeing of the society and people must be prioritised over the greediness and selfishness of a few corrupt public and elected officials so that we do not give oxygen to the fascists and authoritarians in our society to strike and do is harm.
We must begin to work collaboratively with society to make incremental progress in job creation, infrastructural development, public safety, and security of life and property.
I would like to at this moment thank our men and women in uniform for their service, loyalty to our constitution and country, and above all for their professionalism. Finally, let us make our country and region prosper by embracing cultural change from the ground up.
*Nosa Osaikhuiwu is a public commentator, an unapologetic advocate of culture change in Nigeria, and an expert in the elimination of waste, fraud, and abuse.