Despite denial, Nigeria braces for Niger invasion
By John Eche
Despite a statement of denial from the military repudiating reports that it had already commenced mobilisation of troops ahead of Sunday’s deadline for the General Tchiani-led junta in Niger to stand down from office, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has requested the Senate to authorise Nigeria’s invasion of its neighbour.
Tension levels have continued to rise in Nigeria and Niger as the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS deadline for the Armed Forces of Niger Republic to stand down and restore constitutional order to the beleaguered Sahelian West African nation inches closer.
According to the 7-day ultimatum handed down to the Armed Forces of Niger earlier in the week, and shortly after the July 26th putsch, the soldiers in Niger have until Sunday to stand down.
Presently, several sanctions have already been imposed on the country and the military junta, including the declaration of a no-fly zone and Nigeria cutting off electricity supplies to it.
However, a defiant military leadership in Niamey led by former head of the Guards Brigade, General Abdourahamane Tchiani has continued to call the bluff of ECOWAS even as it is allegedly receiving support from countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Russia. There have also been demonstrations in support of the putsch in the country as well as an escalation of both military and diplomatic tension.
The ECOWAS declaration and demand includes the restoration to office of deposed democratically elected leader, Mohamed Bazoum.
ECOWAS is led by Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and there is already a threat that a Nigeria-led ECOWAS military force may be dispatched to take out the military junta should they refuse to give in and restore democracy in the country as the regional body has presently demanded.
Foreign policy experts spoken to by The Difference have however continued to caution that, all things considered, the military invasion path may indeed be a quite problematic route to thread given the dynamics on the ground and indeed in the expanded regional and global fields.
‘Ordinarily, Niger is not expected to be a military match for Nigeria and an ECOWAS force that is quite visibly being backed by the West. But in conflicts of this nature, there are indeed very many underlying variables and they have to be very soberly analysed,’ one analyst reasoned.
Several countries are presently organising the evacuation of their citizens from Niger to avoid their being caught in the enveloping crossfire.
Niger is rich in uranium and the very critical Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline scheme passes through the country.
Niger junta leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani