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A Former Nigerian Senator Shared 13 Reasons Why His Country Shouldn’t Invade Niger
The Nigerien Crisis is a pivotal moment for Nigeria since Africa’s most populous country will either successfully exert its sovereignty by refusing to do the West’s regional bidding or recklessly risk harming its objective national interests by voluntarily subordinating itself to being their vassal.
Former Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani tweeted a list of 13 reasons to his three million followers explaining why Nigeria shouldn’t invade Niger. The West wants Africa’s most populous country to lead a French-backed ECOWAS operation aimed at reinstalling President Mohamed Bazoum, whose ouster could be a game-changer in the New Cold War as was explained here. Sani’s arguments against this are as follows alongside some commentary, after which a few about the global context will conclude this analysis:
1. “Ecowas armed invasion of Niger Republic is simply a war between Nigeria and Niger because of our proximity.”
* It’s only due to geopolitical convenience that Nigeria has been tasked by the West with invading Niger since it otherwise wouldn’t entertain the idea of leading an invasion of any country further afield.
2. “Russia and Wagner may come in support of Niger Republic and Nigeria will have to use its own money to prosecute the operation; Nigeria offsets 70 percent of the budget of Ecowas. I don’t see the US Congress approving unlimited arm supplies for Ecowas to wage war against another country.”
* Although the Wagner chief supports the coup, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified Monday that this doesn’t reflect Moscow’s official views, but Sani’s speculation can be positive if it deters Nigeria from invading. As for the second point, it’s true that Nigeria would likely be left to foot the bill.
3. “Our bordering states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa and Yobe will incur a direct hit in the event of war.”
* There’s no doubt that some level of blowback will probably occur if Nigeria invades Niger, with the former’s northern regions being the first to bear the brunt of this, especially regarding refugee influxes.
4. “If there was no military action to dislodge the military coupists in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad, why that of Niger Republic?”
* Sani is suggesting that Niger is different from prior coups because this time the West’s hegemonic interests are threatened in a major way, which is why it wants Nigeria to forcibly reinstall Bazoum.
5. “Why did the American and French military bases inside Niger Republic refused to stop the coup and now they are encouraging us to go to war?”
* Bazoum would be exposed to the world as a Western puppet if he was saved or returned to power by their hand, which is why they want Nigeria to lead in order to keep up the pretense that he’s a patriot.
6. “Niger has been helpful to Nigeria in the fight against terrorist groups and the country is currently hosting over 303 thousand Nigerian refugees; in the event of war this can be in danger.”
* Nigeria would backstab Niger by invading it, plus this treacherous aggression could provoke mob violence against its vulnerable refugees in that country.
7. “President Tinubu should not allow himself to be pushed to initiate and trigger a war with a neighbouring country and later be left stranded. No West African country has any military capability to start or sustain a war with Niger Republic; everyone will be relying on Nigeria.”
* This is a rehash of the last part of Sani’s second point regarding Nigeria being forced to foot the bill for this operation. Not only would most or all of the financial costs likely fall on that country’s shoulders, but so too would the military and humanitarian costs, none of which Nigeria can afford.
8. “We should not cry more than the bereaved; If the people of Niger Republic don’t want military rule, let them fight to remove it themselves. We fought our own military rulers and some of us even went to jail in that struggle. Let them fight their fight.”
* This pragmatic point emphasizes the multipolar principle of state sovereignty and nudges his audience in the direction of looking into whether Nigeriens are really against this latest coup like the media claims. The reality is that they celebrated it all throughout the capital on Sunday and will likely fight to defend it.
9. “Saudi Arabia is still bugged down in Yemen after spending hundreds of billions of dollars which we don’t have.”
* Although Nigeria has one of the largest and strongest armies in Africa, it could still get caught in a Yemeni-like quagmire in Niger, but it doesn’t have the funds to fight indefinitely like Saudi Arabia does.
10. “The military regime in Myanmar is still there and not one stronger nation is contemplating military action.”
* This point complements the previous one by drawing attention to how China and India are pragmatically managing the reality of military-ruled Myanmar instead of plotting to invade it.
11. “We have a war at home against terrorism let’s concentrate here.”
* Invading Niger could create openings for Boko Harm terrorists and southern rebels to exploit at home.
12. “Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinean forces will likely enter the war to support Niger Republic and they will attack Nigerian territories.”
* This is speculation just like Sani’s fear that Russia and/or Wagner might get involved, but it can also serve a positive purpose if it deters Nigeria from invading Niger.
13. “President Tinubu must continue to toe the line of dialogue with the military authorities in Niger and not war.”
* This last point sums up the purpose of the entire list in that it explicitly states the need for Nigeria to rely solely on diplomacy for defusing this crisis instead of being pushed by the West into war.
The Nigerien Crisis is a pivotal moment for Nigeria since Africa’s most populous country will either successfully exert its sovereignty by refusing to do the West’s regional bidding or recklessly risk harming its objective national interests by voluntarily subordinating itself to being their vassal. Honestly speaking, the second scenario is the most likely, but there’s still a chance that patriotic military officials stumble upon Sani’s list and realize that their country has nothing to gain but everything to lose by invading Niger.