By Tola Adeniyi
I really should not bother myself with thoughts about the undisguised self-serving, self-promoting ulterior motives of some of the most vociferous heads of Economic Community of West African States or their equally undisguised sponsors and backers who are hell-bent on waging war on the serially abused, exploited and impoverished Niger Republic under the pretext of defending a façade called Democracy in Africa.
A lot has been said, discussed, exposed and written about all that. My concern is about the needlessness of the canvassed ruinous engagement which, if not nipped in the bud, is certain to drag West Africa, indeed the whole Africa back to the Stone Age and reduce the hapless owners of the continent to dregs and pauperised savages.
What is Economic Community of West African States? Let us engage any search engine to explain it in the simplest term in a way it can be understood by the man in the street.
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
The 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The main goal of ECOWAS is to promote economic cooperation among member states in order to raise living standards and promote economic development. ECOWAS has also worked to address some security issues by developing a peacekeeping force for conflicts in the region. ECOWAS established its free trade area in 1990 and adopted a common external tariff in January 2015.
About 10 out of the 15 members were ex-colonies of France. And these 10 share historic affinity with Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Chad and Cameroon. Most of them have large Hausa populations who harbour and share very strong ethnic and religious sentiments as well as commanding powerful and unapologetic presence in the military of the constituent countries. Of a major and critical point is the fact that one single member out of the 15 has a population larger than the remaining 14 members combined!
For close to 150 years, those of them while under French imperialism and domination suffered unspeakable human degradation, massive exploitation, massive extortion and systemic cruelty and brutality. Massive exploitation continued, even after the so-called paper independence, up till this day. Any leader who dared to challenge their French overlords were either overthrown through coups or assassinated while stooges were placed on the throne in their stead.
For decades, citizens of these Francophone countries just had to submit to unmitigated disaster foisted on them by their permanent colonial masters, aided and abetted by stooges from within. No African of my generation would ever forget the Eyademas, the Kerekus, the Houphouet-Boignys, or the clown in nearby Congo who needed to add the sound of Gbedu drum to his zany name; Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu WaZa Banga! Mobutu was kept alive to die ‘on the throne’ just like an embarrassment next door who has been in power over 40 years and is more dead than alive!
Fired by nationalism and patriotism, young men who took their cue from immortal fiery Thomas Sankara, and others like Major Isaac Adaka Boro felt there was no other way to get rid of these stooges being used by Africa’s oppressors than to shove them off the stage. These young radical nationalists are disturbed by the gory pictures and images of fellow young Africans dying daily in most undignifying manner while trying to escape the enslavement in their fatherland to seek greener pastures in the land of those who made living in their own land hellish.
Nobody likes violent overthrow of governments. But how do you free yourself from the yoke of dictators, tyrants, rogues, vagabonds who hide under the nebulous mirage called Democracy?
Everybody knows, and all the crooks who occupy political offices know that there is no democracy in Africa in the true sense of the concept. What we have is government of the rich imposed on the people through thuggery and judicial harlotry. And of course, as engineered and endorsed by unseen masters behind the mask abroad.
The young men and women at the helm of affairs in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have two motives and assignments, one, get rid of all those from within who had enriched themselves to put Africa in poverty and two to stand-up to imperialists, be it French, British or American who, over the years and up till now, had given Africa a status worse than pig’s.
In their quest to remove the chains, they don’t seem to care if Devil is the only one available to assist them. Heads of State of West African countries should not allow themselves to be used by France or America or the double-faced Britain to fight fellow Africans in order for them to continue the unrelenting exploitation of African resources and wealth.
Secondly, and most importantly, Africa should not be used as the battleground for the unholy rivalry between the so-called West and the so-called East. And as lamented by renowned American Blogger Shahid Bolsen, France would not like to be seen fighting in Niger but “black monkeys may tear themselves to shreds”. West African countries whose citizens are almost in the throes of death cannot afford Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or Sudan to befall them. Common-sense should tell all those clamouring for war that all the weapons to be used are manufactured outside Africa to be purchased with our meagre resources.
Thirdly, we should never embark on a journey with no end in view.
Fourthly, there would be huge amount of sabotage, serious sabotage from within, so much so that some of the so-called promoters of this needless war may lose their seats in ECOWAS, if by a miracle, ECOWAS as a body survives this self-serving misadventure.
Coming nearer home as a Nigerian writer, our President should realise that the Chairmanship of ECOWAS, like any other regional body such as AU Chairman, EU President, and President of UN Security Council, is a non-executive position. It is rotational and more or else honorary. Nigeria as it is today is not in any position to wage a war; not even against mosquitoes! In this particular case of marching on Niger with seven of our Northern-most states sharing a porous lengthy border and the afore-mentioned ethnic, religious and trade affinities, it will be like putting matches to kegs of petrol. Incidentally, our Senators and Council of Northern governors have declared unequivocal ‘No!’ to any war with Niger.
For emphasis, we should remind ourselves that over 80% of African publics, especially the youths, are strongly against waging war on Niger on behalf of France and America and for the selfish purpose of sit-tight African rulers who are mere puppets of imperialists.
Let’s ask “In whose interest are we committing human and material resources to fight a war in Niger?”
“What are we defending?” If it is the concept of Democracy, how come America is the closest ally of Saudi Arabia? Who put General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi [through a violent coup, July 3, 2013] on the throne in Egypt after sacking a democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi? Have we forgotten what Senator Byrd of West Virginia said in July 2000 when he declared: “America is not a democracy, it is a [Capitalist] Republic”.
In conclusion, West African rulers are advised to engage current leaders of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger and thank them for their ultra-nationalism for daring the blood-sucking imperialists and work with them to conduct elections after they would have banned all professional career-politicians from ever running for elective office.
West African rulers should collectively and boldly put a stop to exporting our rich and vital raw natural resources to any country abroad. ECOWAS as a body should free Francophone from the burden of exploitation and extortion which France had imposed on them over the years. That is the war to fight. We should not wage war to perpetuate evil in support of our exploiters!
Africa under the AU umbrella body, must be united to put a decisive end to all the humiliation and derision we have suffered in the hand of imperialists and colonizers and develop our own Defence apparatchik the way North Korea has done so that generations yet unborn would find Africa worth living in, in honour, dignity, peace, security and prosperity as the most richly endowed continent on planet earth.
High Chief Tola Adeniyi, Jagun Oodua Adimula ll of Yorubaland.
Former Chairman/MD/Editor-in-Chief Daily Times of Nigeria Conglomerate.
National President League of Nigerian Columnists.
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