Niger Offers Opportunity To Unfold The Tinubu Doctrine


Following the expiration of the seven day ultimatum given to the Niger military junta by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore the constitutional order which they overthrew on 26th of July, ECOWAS leaders at their meeting on Thursday, August 10, in Abuja, decided to activate the option of raising a military force to intervene in Niger.

Effectively, this means that at some point in the coming weeks, if on-going diplomatic efforts and sanctions on the Niger coupists do not yield the desired results, ECOWAS boots will be inserted in Niger to enforce the removal of the military government and restore ousted civilian President Muhammad Bazoum to power.

When he was elected Chairman of ECOWAS on July 9 at the summit of Heads of States of the regional bloc in Guinea-Bissau, one of the declarations President Bola Tinubu made was that during his tenure coups and violent overthrow of constitutional governments will no longer be tolerated in the sub-region.

Fortuitously President Tinubu has been presented with an opportunity to test that resolve in Niger with the coup coming two weeks after he made the declaration. Thus what we see happening presently with ECOWAS is a manifestation of what president Tinubu has pledged to do.

In this regard it is almost certain that president Tinubu will go the whole hog if necessary, to remove the coupists in Niger in fulfilment of that pronouncement. Indeed the robust response of ECOWAS from the statement condemning the coup to the ultimatum given to them, to the high powered delegations dispatched to talk to them about reversing their actions, and to the punishing sanctions applied to the regime, definitively indicates that President Tinubu intends to walk his talk. This is in sharp contrast to the mild actions taken against the coups that took place in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

However it does appear that both in the present circumstances in Niger and into the future, the scope of the Tinubu declaration would need to be expanded and concretised into a doctrine that would not be about preventing coups and removing coupists from power alone, but more fundamentally about compelling and committing foreign powers to the development of Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

It is observed that presently in the Niger quagmire, there are powers whose underlying interests may not necessarily be about restoring democracy in that country but will stand to gain more from the interventions of the Tinubu-led ECOWAS.

France and the United States of America in particular with deep interests in Niger and stymied by circumstances from intervening directly would be more than happy to piggy back on Tinubu’s actions in Niger at comparatively little cost to them. Should Tinubu and ECOWAS succeed in Niger, the French would have their Uranium and Crude oil concessions saved and the Americans will retain their drone military base and 1000 strong forces.

Nigeria and ECOWAS on the other hand, will be left with casualties including body bags, walking wounded and huge humanitarian, logistical, infrastructural and food challenges that will be with us for a long time to come. Because Nigeria is currently at the forefront of the action and will likely constitute the larger number of troops and possibly the staging point for any possible military action, for which the French and Americans will benefit more eventually, effectively taking the brunt, we are entitled to demand what is in it for us.

It is from this direction that the Tinubu doctrine should be approached and this requires a heavy dose of Real Diplomatique. In Diplomatic circles it is often said that one should not allow a crisis go to waste. The Niger situation offers just such an opportunity for president Tinubu to achieve not just his declaration of preventing coups in the sub-region, but also in getting the American led western countries to commit to a whole new deal for Africa across political, economic and social spheres of life. This was done in Europe with the Marshal plan and something similar in south East Asia in Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines etc.

If the French and Americans are really interested in developing a partnership with Africa in defending and strengthening democracy and more fundamentally in preventing their interests from falling into the hands of adversaries who are encroaching into the African sphere, then they should literarily put their money where their mouths are.

As the French and Americans stand to be the main beneficiaries of the Tinubu-led ECOWAS action in Niger, there should be something concrete on the table for their involvement in this endeavour. For this, West Africa should be marked out as a special intervention area for political, economic and assistance by France and America.

As a first step in this direction, America should wipe out or convert the debts and loans owed it by West African states into grant in aid to ease the burden of balance of payment they bear.

Allied to that, both France and America should work out currency reforms that would ease our exchange rates difficulties against their currencies.

There should also be a huge infrastructural fund for the building of roads and railways linking up West African states; power grids to provide power linkage throughout the region.

America and France should also commit to strengthening existing and if possible creating new trade agreements that would allow greater access for export goods from West African countries into their economies.

All these should constitute the elements of the Tinubu doctrine which should form the basis of a quid pro quo relationship with France and America whose interests the Tinubu-led ECOWAS is now pursuing in Niger and which these two countries stand more to gain. Let us not fall for the flattery and rhetoric from the French and Americans. This is the real deal for Nigeria and ECOWAS in the Niger situation.


Iliyasu Gadu
[email protected]
08035355706 (texts only)