The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament is divided over measures to address the political impasse in Niger Republic.
While some of the parliament members spoke in support of dialogue and diplomacy, others called for actions that would actually stem the rise in military government within the region.
Twenty-two parliamentarians took part in the virtual extraordinary meeting to discuss the political crisis in Niger Republic.
The West Africa’s regional bloc on Thursday ordered the activation of a standby force for possible use against the junta that took power in Niger in July, saying it wanted a peaceful restoration of democracy but all options including force were on the table.
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Some of the parliamentarians against military intervention explained that any military intervention will cause the masses untold hardship.
The parliamentarians stated this position at an Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament holding virtually.
The first Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of ECOWAS’, Hon Idris Wase opposed the use of military might in resolving the coup dilemma in Niger Republic.
Borno South and member of the Nigerian Delegation to ECOWAS Parliament, Ali Ndume berates President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria and ECOWAS Chairman of unilaterally closing the Nigerian – Niger border, cutting electricity without the approval of the Nigerian National Assembly.
According to Wase: “We should be careful not to start what we can’t finish. When the Russia – Ukraine war started, people thought it was to be a sharp war. A year after, the war is still lingering on with the attendant economic squander and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
“The subregional military chiefs knows what they stand to benefit economically. That’s why they’re eager to militarily intervene in Niger. Most of them are corrupt.
“Any war on Niger will have adverse effects on 60% of Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria.
On his part, Senator Ali Ndume said, “We are the representatives of the people. Whatever action that must be taken should be dependent on what our people want.
“The ECOWAS Chairman, President Tinubu, wrote the Nigerian Senate on the planned military intervention in Niger and the Red Chamber vehemently opposed the use of force. They prefer instead, dialogue should be adopted in resolving the impasse.
“President Tinubu has no right to close the Niger – Nigeria border, cut electricity without the approval of the Nigerian National Assembly. It is not the Juntas that are suffering the sanctions, rather innocent people.”
Hon. Ali Djibo from.Niger Republic said already no fewer than 9,000 schools have been shut.
He said the best solution is dialogue and nowhere in the world where military action has turned out to be the best option.
DJibo explained that war will only inflict more pains on ordinary people.
“War will only compound the economic woes the peoples of the subregion are already going through.
“As we speak, over a thousand trucks, loaded with goods, are stranded at the border.
“If a coup happened in Nigeria or Cote’d’Iviore tomorrow, where’s the ECOWAS going to mobilise troops to fight the Nigerian or Ivorian military? How many borders are we going to close?
“We must also bear in mind that, if we’re applying the ECOWAS treaty, it should be applicable to all.”
Hon Awaji-Inombek Dagomie Abiante urged ECOWAS to pay keen attention and treat the root causes of coup in ECOWAS countries. He said, diplomacy must be used to resolve the problem.
However another school of thought felt dialogue and diplomacy have not been able to tame the spread of the scourge in West Africa. The school of thought said there must be consequences for every action against the ECOWAS Protocol.
Hon Linda Ikpeazu who pushed this argument noted that because there were no consequences in the past, especially on military incursions like in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, hence the Niger Republic situation.
She said the regional body has to act as it cannot continue to encourage people to get away with their wrongs.
She stressed that given the rise of coupists in the sub-region, nobody knows which country will be the next.
Linda said that she is in support of any measure that will halt military incursion in governance.
She however said she is not in support of sanction as it is the ordinary people that will bear the brunt.
Hon Adebayo Balogun, in his contribution, educated his colleagues on the stand of ECOWAS Heads of States, saying that what they are proposing is not a full scale war but a military action against the juntas. He stressed that ECOWAS heads are not talking about declaring war on Niger but simply intervening to dislodge the coupists from power because Niger is a signatory to ECOWAS revised protocol on non military intervention.
Also, Hon. Bashir Dawodu believes that while dialogue is being pursued, the military option should be left open so as to act as a heat.
He also reminded those who are banking on the support of Russia to defend the juntas that Russia alone cannot defend them. He stressed while diplomacy and dialogue are going on, there must also be the heat of military intervention.