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Niger: ECOWAS may no longer exist if it fails, say experts

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Academics and stakeholders have warned that the Economic Community of West African States may cease to exist as a body if it fails to restore democratic rule in the Republic of Niger.

This is as they drummed support for the decision of ECOWAS to explore military options in its effort to displace the military junta that has seized power in Niger.

The speakers took turns to make the submissions on Friday at a symposium organised by the Department of History and International Relations of the Lagos State University.

The symposium convener, who is also the Head of Department, Dr Adewunmi Falode, said the meeting sought to keep the public well-informed about developments in Niger.

“The essence of the symposium is to let the general public know the truth fact of the situation. we are scholars and we are dispassionate. we work on facts and not emotions. Our analysis is pure. it will serve as a guidance to what is happening in that part of the world,” he said.

Speaking on the theme: ‘Coup D’etat in Niger Republic: National, Regional and Global Ramifications,’ the scholars explained that it was time the ECOWAS  stopped what may become a trend of military rule in the region.

A lecturer in the department, Dr Olawale Lawal said the military option is better, while adding that the ECOWAS standby force was up to the task.

He added that the situation in Niger is the first classic example of what ECOWAS wanted to use its newly formed joint army for.

Lawal noted, We all have international organizations and in building them, there are diplomatic tools and that is when you have the military options. All of them are engaged in diplomatic relations. They talk when they have issues. That is why they have conventions, protocols and declarations. But once you run counter to some of these conventions, there will be a communication of intentions and your failure to abide by some of the conventions will result in the use of military option.“In December 2022, West Africa came out with a standing military command to tackle fundamental jihadism and coup d’etat. All other coups preceded the December date while the Niger coup is happening after then, so Niger is the first classical example of the demonstration of the might of what ECOWAS wanted to use the Army for. At the end of the day, the military of Niger and the countries supporting all put together cannot defeat the ECOWAS.”

Another lecturer, Dr Habeeb Sanni, said ECOWAS must invoke the military option or cease to exist.

He said the military has no business in politics, adding that the Niger coup is anathema to democratic principles.

Dr Henry Ogunjewo of the Department of History and strategic studies at the University of Lagos said no one knows which country is next if ECOWAS failed to take action.