By Sade Adewale
For the umpteenth time, prominent Nigerians have cautioned the federal government not to go to war with neighbouring Niger Republic whose military men seized power from President Mohammed Bazoum a fourthnight ago.
Those interviewed conceded that a coup in Niger might naturally unsettled Nigeria but urged the Tinubu administration to pursue diplomatic options.
The interviewees which include military Generals and academics warned that a warfare with Niger Republic might constitute a huge drain on our country’s fragile economy and create internal crisis
They said Nigeria at this critical stage of her economy cannot afford expending the inadequate resources and funds on unprofitable venture like prosecuting war in Niger.
They advised Nigerian government to discard the idea of participating in any military intervention in Niger.
According to them, declaring huge funds and resources that is expected to be spent on the war should be channelled on ways of making life better for the people of the country who are already suffocating under economic hardship.
Brigadier-General Joe Komolafe (rtd) advised the ECOWAS community to embrace dialogue in settling the matter with the coupists.
On likely consequence if the ECOWAS should adopt war in relinquishing power from Niger military, the former military officer disclosed that it will further affect the economy of neighbouring countries.
The retired General submitted that the situation may equally worsen the security situations of some neighbouring countries.
Also former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George said President Tinubu Bola and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, have enough room to dialogue with leaders of the Niger coup.
He said, “When they meet tomorrow, I am advising that there’s enough room for dialogue, and the underlining crisis that is engaging all these francophone countries today dates back to the French approach to their own system of colonialism.
“While the British had colonies, the French had the principle of assimilation. In other words, they didn’t let go. There’s no French country in the whole of Africa where the French government does not have a minimum of a battalion stationed there,” he added.
The former military General said, “You learn from your experiences. We were in ECOMOG, which was the country that was responsible militarily, financially, and personnel-wise for the armed forces. We did extremely well; what was the benefit to Nigeria?
“Before you consider going to war as a nation, you teach your boys the national interest of your country; anything that falls out of that is not a major concern to you, but if anybody infringes on your national interest, then you can go to war because you are going there to defend something so vital to your country.
“Learning from the ECOMOG experience, how can we now go to Niger? What is the benefit? My appeal is that the ECOWAS heads of state should be more careful. The Ukraine-Russia war today has lingered on for over a year; they are still fighting, and innocent people are dying. War is not a tea party, and it is better to jaw-jaw than war-war.
Professor Victor Olumekun, a professor of plant physiology from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, said a military intervention from Nigeria is a bad idea.
According to him, we should not be talking about military intervention now because we have a lot of internal problems already which we should not complicate by meddling in the affairs of another country.
Olumekun, while noting that such military action does not make economic sense, added that only those who sell weapons of war will benefit from it, and at the end the repercussions will be difficult to deal with.
A retired top police officer, Kolade Lawal, who queried the intention of the president, said the venture might be a wasteful one and will further add to the sufferings of the people.
Kolade, a retired Superitendent of Police, was of the view that apart from the economic loss the country is going to make, should the war go on, he stated that Nigeria will suffer the much goodwill and respect in the case of losing the war to Niger and its allies.
Ekiti-based Political Analyst, Elder Ayo Arogundade, condemned what he called military intervention in the crisis in Niger Republic.
He equally advised President Tinubu to focus more on the development of economy of the country and embrace diplomatic form of dialogue with the military junta in the Niger Republic.
Arogundade also stressed the need for the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS ) to consider on what may likely be the consequences on the boarder countries if war break out in the Niger Republic.
Similarly, Professor Simon Ehiabhi from the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, pointed out that though the Nigerian government might be concerned about the possibility of the coup in Niger provoking breach of security in Nigeria, it is still not advisable for Nigeria to explore military option.
According to Adedayo Afe, also from the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, any military action from Nigeria against Niger will be a senseless war because we have a lot of internal security challenges to deal with, coupled with the fact that a lot of Nigerian soldiers lost their lives during Boko Haram crisis.
His words: “Countries that intervene in this kind of situation usually have the mindset that they will benefit from it economically. During Nigeria’s intervention in Liberia in 1991, we spent $8 billion. At that time, Nigeria was making a lot of money as a result of the Iraq and Iran war which made the global price of crude oil skyrocket; but what are we going to benefit from this particular case? Is it the gains of the subsidy removal that we will use to prosecute a war in Niger or borrow money again?
Afe who pointed out that good governance would help to promote peace and political stability, added that diplomacy is the only solution to the current political crisis in Niger, noting that Nigerians are culturally related to Nigerians.