May 27, 2024

Ghana’s Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has rehashed the call for partner countries, the Africa Union, and institutions to support the Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS) for the deployment of the standby force to Niger.

The appeal for support was to enable the quick restoration of constitution order, peace and security in the member state.

He has, therefore, rallied the various Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) in the sub-region to get ready to counter the Niger military junta.

The Minister was speaking at the opening of a two-day extraordinary meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff on the deployment of the standby force to Niger in Accra, yesterday, Thursday, 17th August, 2023.

“Your presence here alone gives a powerful message to the world – that you are united in carrying out the directives of the Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS, and after today and tomorrow meetings you will put in place a plan to activate the standby force that will restore democracy in Niger.”

He warned that if Presidential Guards can take hostage of their President, then nobody in West Africa was safe, “that is why I urged you to continue to be loyal to your Heads of States. I urge you to continue to be loyal to ECOWAS and to its directives,” he urged.

Speaking passionately to the army heads, the Minister mourned over how the sub-region had suddenly been deviled by coup d’états and military takeovers, while other regions on the Continent did not have same.

He said the incident had compounded the activities of Terrorist Armed Group (TAG) and Violent Extremist Organisations (VEO) in the region.

He continued that, the populations of countries affected by the activities of TAG/VEO were already paying heavy prices, loss of human lives, and deterioration of critical infrastructure, school dropout, and lingering humanitarian crises.

Mr. Nitiwul added that those states were gradually losing control of their territory, leaving large parts of it to TAG/VEO, which now control and carry out various criminal activities and illicit cross-border trafficking.

He added that the relapse of the 1960s to 90s era of coup d’états and military takeover was the worst moments for the region.

He stated that ECOWAS resorted to all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, but the military junta remained defiant after the expiration on the one week ultimatum, thereby, force was being applied.

We are not going begging with cup in hand

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, assured the Military Junta that the Committee would explore all options available to it to ensure that constitutional order was restored in Niger.

He stressed that although the diplomatic window was still opened, the standby forces would be deployed together with all its elements.

Responding to naysayers, he said ECOWAS would fall on its own resources to enter Niger, and will not go begging for support.

“We are going in Niger with our own contingent and equipment, our own resources and to make sure that we restore constitutional order. If democracy lovers want to support us, they are welcome but we are not going begging with cup in hand,” he called the bluff of the naysayers.

According to him, despite serious interests at stake in the case of Niger, ECOWAS was determined to act on its mandate.

He admonished ECOWAS citizens to remain resolute, and that coup d’états and military takeover were not solution to economic challenges.

“There are people in the region who are saying we should not intervene, because of insecurity and because of bad governance and poor governance. I wish to inform the community in West Africa that the entire world is suffering from the aftermaths of COVID-19. What is happening in Ukraine is having a very devastating impact on livelihood throughout the world…”

He added that if nations were to resort to violence means to solve economic challenges the whole world would be in flames by unconstitutional changes of governments.

Ambassador Musah wondered why the naysayers never questioned ECOWAS on the deployment of the standby force to the Gambia to make sure that the President who had lost elections vacated the Presidency.

He added that the more the junta stayed, the more it found reasons to justify why they stages the coup, hence, had remained defiant.

Ambassador Musah charged the defence chiefs to immediately activate the standby force and all its elements.

Chief of Defence Staffs responses

The President of the Committee of Chief of Defence Staffs and CDS of Nigeria, General Christopher Musa, called for unity to face the current challenges in the sub-region.

“As we embark on this important mission, let us remember the words of the ECOWAS Vision 2080, which calls for a region of peace, security, and solidarity. Let these words not just be an aspiration, but a guiding principle in our deliberations and decisions,” he said.

He was certain that their ultimate goal in the activation of the standby forces was not to resolve the crisis in Niger, but to build a stronger, more resilient ECOWAS that was capable of confronting and overcoming the challenges.

This is the second time the committee is meeting following the extraordinary meeting of ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments.

ECOWAS maintained that it still recognised ousted Mohamed Bazoum as the legitimate President of the Republic of Niger.

However, the junta has charged Mohamed Bazoum of high treason for sending messages to Washington Post.

The ousted President, together with his family and cabinet, has been taken hostage by the military junta.

Niger is the fourth country after Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea Bissau in the sub-region to have overthrown a constitutional government.

All these countries are joining forces to fight ECOWAS, should in case it invades Niger.

Many have also expressed fear that the crisis may escalate like the Syrian conflict, due to the Niger junta seeking support from Russia.

Currently, there is a growing sense of insecurity in the landlocked country, as 17 soldiers were killed in an ambush by insurgents.


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