We worked hard, took many bullets and took great risks to put this government in place and we not only have a big stake in it but we must also ensure that it succeeds.
Apart from our unalloyed loyalty and unflinching support and our commitment to assist him in weathering every storm and stabilising the country there is only one thing we owe the President and that is to always tell him the plain truth.
Today that truth is that the pending attack on Niger Republic is unpopular at home and, if unleashed, would be a monumental error.
If ECOWAS must go into Niger in the name of wanting to restore constitutional order so be it but let them do so without any Nigerian troops.
Let the French and their Franco-phone allies in our sub-region, with American intelligence and logistical support, do the job on their own and leave us out of it.
It is only if our nation is attacked or our sovereignty violated that we should get into the fray.
Outside of that and until then we should use only diplomatic means to setttle the issue and not allow ourselves to be drawn into an unecessary and bloody regional war the end of which no-one knows.
To the Ivory Coast’s President Alhassan Outarra, who has said that this is not a Nigeria versus Niger conflict but rather an ECOWAS versus Niger one, I respectfully ask the following questions: who will contribute 90% of the troops and foot almost all the bills of this force? Is it not Nigeria?
Whose military hardware and assets will be deployed, mobilised and utilised more than any other? Is it not Nigeria?
Who shares her Northern border with Niger and whose northern civilian population are bound to suffer the most hardship, the greatest degree of collateral damage, the highest number of casualties and accommodate the highest number of displaced people and refugees? Is it not Nigeria?
We have trod this path before and we know where it ended. We cannot be fooled again.
If any force is deployed and Nigeria opts to participate we will pay more than all the other ECOWAS nations put together in terms of the loss of civilian and military lives and in blood and treasure.
Apart from that the ECOWAS force and their military capability is nothing without Nigeria and our troops.
To say that this would be an ECOWAS versus Niger war as opposed to a de facto Nigeria versus Niger one is misleading and disingenuous.
Such a war would be fought, prosecuted and won by primarily Nigerian forces even though there may be a sprinkling of a few others just for show and for the record.
All the French and Cote D’ivorien sophistry, propaganda and delusion in the world cannot change that.
If and when the whole thing goes down and we get involved militarily, you can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t just be a Nigeria versus Niger war but it would also end up being a Nigeria versus Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Wagner one.
Worse still involvement in such a military conflict may tear our country apart along ethnic, regional and religious lines. This must be avoided at all costs.
To add to this complex mix the wife of General Abdourahman Tiani, the head of the military junta in Niger, is actually a Nigerian from Kangiwa in Kebbi state whilst his Emir, the Emir of Dosso in Niger, owes allegience and pays homage to the Emir of Argungu in Nigeria.
That is how connected our two countries are.
The truth is that there is hardly any family in the core north that does not have relatives from and in Niger.
Can they be expected to sit by idly and applaud us whilst we kill their brothers and sisters across the border for no just cause even when our nation has not been attacked and our territorial integrity has not been violated? Methinks not!
As I wrote elsewhere, outside of any diplomatic initiatives, let the French clean up their own self-inflicted mess and fight for their hegemonist and parasitic neo-colonial interests and uranium supplies in Niger and let us stay out of our poor and beleaguered neighbour’s internal affairs.
On a final note permit me to share the following exchange.
On hearing of my stiff opposition to deploying our troops into Niger my dear friend Umaru Farouk offered the following rationalisation to me.
He wrote, “the decision to place the troops on standby force is to force the junta to comply with the charter of demands from the regional and other international institutions via diplomatic channels. Also to actionably deploy the troops in case of any future coup attempt anywhere in the territory of ECOWAS”.
My response to him was as follows.
“You and I know that this threat of the use of force will not work and that it will not result in their stepping down.
It will rather harden their hearts and eventually lead to a military conflict.
You do not place your armed forces on alert unless you intend to deploy. It is only a question of time.
Methinks that it is a very bad step, it is ill-timed and it is ill-advised.
It is bad for our country, bad for our people and bad for our Government.
Finally as regards your suggestion that the force can be used and deployed in case of any future coup anywhere in ECOWAS I ask, why should Nigeria be the policeman of the West African sub-region?
Why should we be used to protect oftentimes corrupt, dictatorial and illegitimate civilian sit-tight rulers and puppet regimes in other parts of West Africa?
Out of all the leaders in the15 countries that make up the ECOWAS sub-region I can only vouch for the legitimacy, integrity and democratic credentials of the Presidents of Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Sierra Leonne and Liberia.
I cannot vouch for ANY of the others and I have little respect for them.
In any case don’t we have enough problems of our own?
Let others deal with their internal issues and let us deal with ours.
Nigerian blood must never be spilt or shed for the sake of some of these Frano-phone rulers who have sold their souls to the devil and their people to France and who have been turned into errand boys abd grovelling slaves by their former colonial masters.
For example is it President Paul Biya of the Cameroons, who has been in power in that country for the last 41 years, that our soldiers should protect and die for?
Is it President Faure Eyadema of Togo who, in classic North Korean-style, is operating and nurturing a system of dynastic rule in his nation and who, between him and his late father Gnassibe Eyadema, have ruled their country for the past 61 years?
Is it President Alhassan Outarra of La Cote D’Ivoure who is prepared to do ANYTHING for the French, who suppresses and persecutes his opponents and who had his predecessor in office President Laurant Gbabo bundled off to the International Court at the Hague at the behest of their former colonial masters simply because he dared to question the legitimacy and sought to break the yoke of French domination and bondage and restore the self-respect and dignity of his people by coming up with the noble and patriotic concept of “Ivoritie” (meaning “Ivorians first”).
If anyone really wants to know what the French do to their Franco-phone subjects through the auspices of their pliant and servile local “democratically-elected” African leaders they should listen to the explosive and utterly outstanding speech, delivered just over a year ago, by the beautiful, passionate and fiery Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, who lambasted President Emmanuel Macron of France and the French people for enslaving, persecuting and cruelly exploiting the people of Africa.
Are these the sort of leaders we should protect and vouch for and are we supposed to send our soldiers to die in order to perpetuate French hegemony in these nation’s? Surely not!
Unless our country is attacked I do not see any sense in using our military for anything outside our shores other than for peace-keeping”.
May God open our eyes and guide our leaders before it is too late.
•Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, writes from Lagos