Ongoing Leadership Problem in Niger Republic

In the ongoing leadership problem in Niger Republic, the survival of national democracy is seen to be dragged in the mud by military junta who see force as the only way power can be got and effectively placed to the benefit of all.

Since Africa had engaged in the less profitable trade, trodden the chip-ridden path, and experienced the storm of military overthrows before, and cannot deny the debt of doom that was incurred after all, then African leadership formed as a group of nations, ECOWAS, has stood up therefore to challenge the unfortunate political occurrence that is currently rousing out of Niger Republic like some smoke of heavy fire.

Despite efforts to quell the insistence of the dirty part of history from repeating itself against the growing stems of democracy in the world, particularly Africa, Niger in collaboration with at least four other francophone countries are proving blatantly unready to back off their organized stubbornness on blowing the embers of war against the rest of the African nations in an effort to prove some leftist political point!

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations (UN) , the European (Union), the African Union (AU) and some member countries of the international community have all risen in fury against the undemocratic takeover of power by the army in Niger. They have condemned the act and threatened sanctions against the plotters.

What exactly is the point?! What is or are the root causes of the ongoing leadership problem in Niger Republic which now is looming misfortune or hovering dangers over the panicky state of the rest of the continent and the world?

In this article, responses to these questions shall be delineated for a better and comprehensive understanding of the ongoing leadership problem in Niger Republic:

How It Began?

Having thought that the end of military coup, and end of unconstitutional change of government had ended, Niger Republic on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, was set at by a group of military men and then got the democratically-elected president, Mohammed Basoum, toppled. Power was therefore unscrupulously seized in the country primarily because it was believed that the democratic leader was not doing well enough as a leader.

The background majorly describes Niger Republic as a landlocked country struggling with two Islamist insurgencies, one in the south-west, which swept in from Mali in 2015, and the other in the south-east, involving jihadists based in north-eastern Nigeria.

Militant groups allied to both al-Qaeda and Islamic State are active in the country. So, when news filtered in that another coup had taken place in Niger, making it the fourth successful coup in the sub region in the last three years, anxiety gripped members of the international community. The fear borders particularly on the fundamentalism that may seem to ensue, thereby disrupting the fairness of the nature of existing democratic government.

Meanwhile, these sets of ‘usurpers’ do not actually see any significant or pointable essence of the acclaimed democracy which they can testifiably refer to as reason why the overthrow should be recoiled or reversed. Hence, they emphasized the evil effects of it on the poor masses in which they are part.

The question is, are they really members of the poor masses. Was that even the reason why they embarked on the business of toppling and disrupting the peaceful pace of democratic rule in the country?

Already, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and its economy is concentrated around subsistence agriculture, with some export agriculture in the less arid south, and export of raw materials, including uranium ore. It faces challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, low literacy rate, jihadist insurgencies and the world’s highest fertility rates due to birth control not being used and the resulting rapid population growth.

Mohammed Basoum

Leadership Problem in Niger Republic

Bazoum was the successor to Issoufou as the presidential candidate for the PNDS in the 2020–21 Nigerien general election. Bazoum’s presidential campaign focused on ideas such as resolving demographic problems within Niger by limiting family size and increasing literacy and gender equality through more education for girls.

He has also promised to target the ISIS insurgency in Niger, assisting the neighboring country of Mali in the process, reinforce Nigerien defence and security, and tackle corruption in the country. Bazoum did not win the first round of the election, held on 27 December 2020, obtaining only 39.30% of the vote.

However, he won the runoff election in February 2021 with 55.67% of the vote and was sworn in as President on 2 April, his victory being confirmed on 21 March

Announcement of New Military Leadership

On Friday, the 62-year-old Abdourahmane Tchiani, head of Niger’s presidential guard was announced as leader of a transitional government in the West African country and head of state. The plotters insist that the coup was carried out to stem ‘the gradual and inevitable demise’ of the country.

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Tchiani made the announcement on Friday on state-run television, saying he was the “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland”. The general also said that while Bazoum had sought to convince people that “all is going well, the harsh reality is a pile of dead, displaced, humiliation and frustration”.

“The security approach today has not brought security to the country despite heavy sacrifices,” Tchiani said even as he refused to mention a timeline for return to civilian leadership.

Rejection of the Warning

In line with the pronouncement of the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Nigeria calls for the immediate and unconditional release of President Mohamed Bazoum, his family members and other civilians being detained; and reversion to status quo ante.

Yet, Abdourahmane Tchiani has not given a go to the call nor reply to the order and statement of authority made by the leadership of ECOWAS! This however connotes Niger’s readiness for war against all odds.

Should we then be worried? Do these military topplers have some furtive ace up their sleek sleeves?

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