By Kabir Abdulsalam,
In the midst of regional turmoil, Nigeria stands at a crossroads, facing a critical decision that could shape its security landscape for years to come. The recent coup in Niger, where the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was ousted has become talking point of the day.
Concern has mounted globally over the potential for deadly conflict to sweep West Africa, particularly as the Economic Community of West African States, chaired by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, threatened military intervention and, ordered a “standby force” to restore order to Niger.
This thrust has pushed President Tinubu’s leadership into the spotlight, raising questions about the allocation of military resources into this, while the urgent need to address Nigeria’s own security challenges are begging for attention.
Although, President Tinubu’s support for ECOWAS’s military intervention in Niger reflects a commitment to regional stability and democratic values. However, this move has ignited a nationwide debate, with growing concerns about the potential consequences of diverting troops who have been overstretched taking their attention away from Nigeria’s internal security crises.
Nigeria’s security challenges are multifaceted, demanding a comprehensive and unwavering response. From the persistent menace of banditry in the Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states to the ongoing battle against separatist forces like the IPOB militia, and the ever-looming threats posed by Boko Haram and ISWAP in the Northeast, Nigeria’s security apparatus is spread thin.
The call for a realignment of priorities is not to undermine the importance of regional solidarity but to underscore the urgency of quelling the flames of unrest on Nigerian soil. The recent plague of killings, insurgency, and criminality has left communities shattered and families torn apart.
While diplomatic efforts should always be explored, the immediate need for effective, coordinated military action to restore peace and security at home cannot be overstated.
Th intervention of the Islamic clerics and the Council of Ulamas advocating and later gotten the attention of the coup leader for dialogue is commendable as a means to address the conflicts, however, government must also acknowledge that lasting dialogue can only thrive in an atmosphere of stability.
The Forum, after their emergency meeting convened by its chairman and secretary, Aminu Inuwa Muhammed and Engr. Basheer Adamu Aliyu called on the Nigerian government and ECOWAS to avoid issuing threats or employing violence in the ongoing political impasse between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
Meanwhile, Nigeria, as a nation consumed by its own internal strife cannot effectively engage in meaningful negotiations.
In the same vein, Nigerians, including the federal legislature, state governors and opposition parties, have insisted that Tinubu should jettison the idea of going into war with coupists in Niger
Prominent figures like Femi Fani-Kayode have voiced concerns that the deployment of troops to Niger could exacerbate Nigeria’s security challenges. Fani-Kayode’s sentiments echo the broader sentiment shared by many Nigerians who fear that redirecting troops could weaken Nigeria’s ability to address its pressing security issues.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its governors, and some of its key stakeholders cautioned President Tinubu against going into any form of war with the Republic of Niger over the recent military coup in the country.
They asked the president to heed to calls from his home country to adopt diplomatic and political approach instead.
Perhaps, President Tinubu has been relying on the relative silence of Nigerians concerning the reported killings in some states. This might be influencing his decision to continue with his support for military intervention in Niger. However, it is imperative for the government to consider the wider implications of this decision on Nigeria’s security and stability.
The incessant killings in Plateau and other parts of the country has not been given much attention by the President.
This writer has also written on the surge in killings which has sparked outrage nationwide and raised serious concerns about the government’s inability to address the security challenges plaguing the county particular Plateau, Niger and Zamfara states among others.
Plateau and Zamfara states, in particular, have borne the brunt of recurring killings, a sinister cycle that continues to claim innocent lives and destabilize communities.
In Plateau state, clashes between herders and farmers have escalated into deadly confrontations, fueling tensions and undermining the fabric of harmonious coexistence. Similarly, Zamfara and Niger states have been plagued by the scourge of banditry, with criminal elements wreaking havoc, abducting civilians, and leaving entire villages in turmoil. These security challenges have far-reaching implications, transcending local borders to impact Nigeria’s overall stability and progress.
Shockingly, amidst these grave threats, the response from the Federal government has been deemed insufficient by many observers. The prolonged silence on these matters and the lack of decisive action have left communities feeling abandoned and vulnerable.
While President Tinubu’s commitment to regional stability is commendable, it is vital that equal, if not greater, attention is directed towards stemming the tide of violence within Nigeria’s borders.
The economic implications of military intervention in Niger are equally weighty, But the diversion of resources from addressing internal security concerns to a foreign theater of conflict could hinder Nigeria’s economic progress and exacerbate its own vulnerabilities. It is crucial that the government recognizes that a strong, secure Nigeria is essential for regional stability and the success of any ECOWAS-led intervention.
The President must take a measured approach and deploy immediate steps to address Nigeria’s internal security challenges through well-coordinated military operations, intelligence sharing, and community engagement. By strengthening its own security front, Nigeria can play a more effective role in contributing to regional stability.
Additionally, as Nigeria confronts its own internal security crisis, the government must redouble its efforts to quell the violence in Plateau, Zamfara, and other affected states. This is not only a duty to its citizens but a strategic move that will ultimately contribute to a more stable, prosperous, and united West African region.