What is happening in Niger and why the region of West Africa may be facing turmoil, civil war and border dispute.Niger, officially the Republic of Niger, French République du Niger, is a western African landlocked country.
It is bounded on the northwest by Algeria, on the northeast by Libya, on the east by Chad, on the south by Nigeria and Benin, and the west by Burkina Faso and Mali.
All these nations are landlocked developing nations and are incredibly poor, partly due to the geographical limitations placed upon landlocked nations.
In Niger, over 80% of its population lives in poverty, and also most half in extreme poverty and these figures have not changed since the Seventh Republic operated under the Constitution of 2010 until its dissolution in 2023 by General Abdourahamane Tchiani in a coup d’état
Landlocked Developed Nations
Landlocked nations are poor economies or have slow economic growth due to a lack of access to cheaper means of international trade, which is far more efficient on the world’s oceans.
That’s why for example, peoples in the United States of America 40% of its population live near major rivers and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of America Niger, unfortunately, has no deep waterways or rivers.
This makes the prospect of Niger developing its economy remote, and the chances of external investment are limited due to the cost not worth the development.
Niger is also an ex-colonial territory governed by the French empire, including its neighbours Chad and Benin.
The nation of Niger’s official language is still French also due to the territory being drawn along colonial borders are also internal divisions and tribal loyalties, which makes the nation unstable.
Furthermore, Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, there have been five military coup d’états in Nigeria.
Between 1966 and 1999, Nigeria was ruled by a military government without interruption, apart from a short-lived return to democracy under the Second Nigerian Republic of 1979 to 1983.Also, Niger has three major ethnic groups: Hausa, Zarma, Fulani, and other significant groups in the country, and there is a total of over 200 ethnic groups.
This helps explain why the official language is still French and why there is chronic instability in Niger though apart from the coup d’états ousted former president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, 2023 and who was democratically elected in 2015, the nation has been making progress towards stability.
Sadly, the coup d’états ousted President Buhari, led by Abdourahamane Tchiani, the presidential guard’s commander.
We could see a return to instability in the region of West Africa with some military leaders thinking, if a guard commander can seize power, why can’t I?
ECOWAS May Intervene and Plunge West Africa into War
Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States, is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa.
These countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km², and in 2019 had an estimated population of over 387 million.
ECOWAS 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
The West African economic community is currently pledging 25,000 troops to intervene in Niger and restore democracy.
The reasons for the intervention or the talk of intervention due to two primary reasons the influence of Nigeria, which wishes to become one of the great powers of Africa, which includes Egypt and South Africa.
Bola Tinubu, who is from Nigeria, has only recently, in July 2023, been appointed the president of ECOWAS.
In his opening speech and taking his office as the president, he stated that “We will not allow coup after coup in West African Sub-region” so with him just being in office for a few months, having just made a speed about security and democracy within West Africa interfering in Niger is not just the point of security.
It’s also his reputation; suppose he doesn’t take serious action.
In that case, his credibility as the leader of ECOWAS will be seriously undermined and potentially lead to more coup after coup, which he may hope to avoid through a pre-emptive strike.