By Ayobami Okerinde
A former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Professor of Political Science, Bolaji Akinyemi, has stated that the intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in restoring democracy in Niger is in a bid to stop spread of coups in the sub region.
The body placed sanctions on the Niger military junta following the ouster of president Mohammed Bazoum in a coup on July 26.
Speaking on Channels TV Politics Today on Monday, Akinyemi said there has to be a line following military coups in other West African countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
He said, “I haven’t heard one single commentator, even those who are criticizing ECOWAS, applaud the fact that the coup took place in Niger. ECOWAS simply said that you have to draw the line somewhere and it is better drawn in the latest coup case.
“When President Bola Tinubu was elected Chairman of ECOWAS, obviously he laid down the parameters of his foreign policy and he said under his watch he was not going to allow coups to take place and he was not going to allow terrorism to take place. Those were the two legs which he identified in Guinea Bissau,” he added.
Akinyemi also noted that with West Africa becoming a belt of coupist, Nigeria must be wary after the Niger coup.
He said, “Whether in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and wherever, you would want to put a stop to the creeping phenomenon of coups. Yes, Nigerians whether in the north or south have been very vocal against the military component of the policy of ECOWAS.
“They felt that the military component being put on the table is so quick that there should have been more emphasis on diplomacy, dialogue and economic sanctions before you openly talk about military options.
“It’s not just Nigeria, the question is why is confronting the coupist in Niger important to ECOWAS? You don’t want a domino effect.
“With the coup in Niger, soldiers in other countries would be looking at it and be thinking why can’t we replicate it in our country. The only thing that will put a stop to this creeping coupism would be an effective stop to the coup in Niger.”
Akinyemi also dismissed claims that it’s Nigeria vs Niger, stating that the decision taken by ECOWAS is not a ‘Tinubu policy’ but that of the body.
He said, “I keep telling people that president Tinubu has only one vote at the summit [of ECOWAS]. Other African heads of state who are members of ECOWAS are not dummies.
“He could not bully them into supporting his stand. So that ECOWAS took a forceful stand on the coupist in Niger, it must reflect the consensus of feeling of attitude within ECOWAS itself,” he added.
ECOWAS had placed different sanctions on the coupist in Niger including the activation of its standby forces.