President Tinubu Faces Criticism Over Potential Military Involvement in Niger Crisis

Amidst the ongoing political crisis in Niger, President Tinubu is encountering criticism for his stance on the possibility of military intervention. Despite his party, the APC, having control of the Senate, resistance to military action emerged during a recent Senate session. Lawmakers from states bordering Niger expressed significant opposition, reflecting a broader nationwide sentiment against the prospect of armed conflict.

President Tinubu’s position as chairman of ECOWAS and Nigeria’s president, the most influential member within the regional organization, has led fingers to point at him for the potential intervention. ECOWAS had issued a one-week ultimatum to the junta in Niger to step down, with the looming threat of military measures.

While the junta defied the deadline, ECOWAS refrained from an immediate troop deployment, relieving many Nigerians who advocate for a diplomatic resolution. However, doubts have arisen over the feasibility of the seven-day timeframe, considering parliamentary approval is necessary before deploying military forces.

President Tinubu’s decision to cut off electricity supply to Niger has also sparked criticism. This move resulted in power outages in Niamey and other urban areas. Critics argue that this action violates a treaty allowing Nigeria to construct a dam on the River Niger. Nonetheless, proponents assert that these power cuts intend to pressure the junta into peacefully restoring ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power.

The intricate ties between Nigeria and Niger, spanning ethnic, economic, and cultural aspects, accentuate the potential ramifications of military intervention. Such action could have cascading effects across northern Nigeria, an area already grappling with significant security challenges.

Amid the controversy, an influential group of Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria warned against rushing into a conflict with Niger. They stressed the importance of avoiding conflict fueled by global politicking.

President Bazoum’s alliance with Western powers, particularly France and the US, adds complexity to the situation, as military bases in Niger support counter-terrorism efforts in the region.

Mali and Burkina Faso, two other military juntas, have pledged support for Niger’s coup leaders if ECOWAS deploys force, raising the specter of a larger regional conflict.

All eyes are on President Tinubu, known for condemning coups in West Africa. He emphasized the need for a stronger ECOWAS, stating it cannot be a collection of “toothless bulldogs.”

In response to the crisis, Prof Khalifa Dikwa, a university don and Northern elder, criticized both ECOWAS and President Tinubu, highlighting the historical relationship between Niger and the northern part of Nigeria and questioning the notion of a conflict between these regions.

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