The Dogs of War: The Niger Army Vs the Army of Nigeriens

Iboro Otu examines F-16 delivery to Ukraine, Nigeria's challenges, and cautions against ECOWAS military intervention in Niger, highlighting global implications.

Published: Oct 4, 2023  |  

Sociopreneur and political hacktivist in Africa

The American government has sanctioned off third party delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from any EU country. However, no Ukrainian airport has pristine runways for the operation of these jets according to RT news. This explicably means that for activities in the Ukraine war operations, the F-16’s might be taking off from an EU country. Russia has vowed to attack any sites the F-16’s operate from. Think about the implication and ramifications of this for a minute…

The Transcorp hotel is a piece of prime real estate in central Abuja. Seated at a nexus between three highbrow areas of Asokoro, Maitama and Wuse, it hosts a lot of political and economic powershakers and activities in Nigeria at any given time. It is the most prestigious address after the Aso Rock villa, the seat of government. Over the weekend, I was there at a table by the bar with a former special adviser to the british prime minister, appraising our deck on the Nigeria Science Park project, the first of its kind,  when two young men with props sauntered to my side in brief excuse, they wanted to have my opinion on camera on the situation in Niger. In times like this, where the new Nigerian government is looking at cabinet formation and engaging appropriate manpower, you don’t want to be misquoted, hence the many fixated gaze on us. Nevertheless, I obliged. Apparently both men were from Alaraby TV (Arab TV), a political news channel in Qatar, and I would be pressed by their chief correspondent on my views. 

I think the second balkanization of Africa will begin from its West if ECOWAS offers itself without restraint to be used in making a forced entry into Niger, no matter the leadership situation there. I think the AU is right in distancing itself from ECOWAS in that regard and I believe the Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu, who also doubles as the chairman of ECOWAS, new to continental leadership and surrounded by just recently promoted military and security leaders and advisers, may not be accessing enough information or be adequately prepared to jump into an international military operation. 

Nigeria, the leader of the pack who contributes more than 50% of the ECOWAS budget is teetering at an abysmal 80% approximated misery index, currently incalculable because unemployment data and inflation numbers change on a weekly basis. Petrol, the deciding denominator in economic activity has shot up by about 400% to 650 naira per liter and there are rumors the current price is getting a shot in the arm to 720 according to several Nigerian media including the Punch newspapers. The Dollar is forging ahead to 950 naira, close to the magical 1,000 naira, the highest nigerian note denomination. Meanwhile, minimum wage is still under review at 30, 000 naira. Nigeria is beset on all sides by tough economic and security shocks unknown even during the Buhari administration, therefore, contemplating military action in a foreign country at the moment is laughable to say the least. The Nigerian legislature has voted against such a move, however, the last action remains to be seen as ECOWAS troops line in preparation. Other ECOWAS member nations aren’t fairing any better socio-economically.

Egged on by American and French support, ECOWAS looks set to start a war whose outcome it definitely can’t contain and can’t predict for interests it yet can’t define. Another cog in the global war machine. If ventured into, this war will open up our lean ranks to a multicountry refugee crisis and complete regional takeover by Boko Haram who are waiting in the wings. We are set to become the new Ukraine.

It’s hard to fathom what Nigeria’s interest would be in pursuing such a war or whether the nation and its neighbors would accept a war that is fought primarily at the behest of non-African nations.

My take is that ECOWAS continue with economic sanctions and blockages in a carrot and stick approach until negotiations bring the coup plotters about. In an instance where diplomacy completely fails, we should allow Nigeriens decide their fate from inside out, not outside in. ECOWAS, AU, and others should support democratic elements in Niger with networks and tools they need to rally national support in a direction desirable and profitable to Nigeriens only. Anything else would be another Libya, another Ukraine-like trouble, a crisis now slowly metastasizing into a wider World War.

The F-16’s give-away represents  an escalation in a war that could end with bombings of nations other than Ukraine. At the same time, the Russian response is broadening the Ukrainian war to also include Africa. The connected impact of these global events are yet to be fully understood.

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