Anti-democratic policies in ECOWAS could trigger coups, experts warn

DIPLOMATIC experts have advised the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leadership to guard against anti-democratic policies to avoid a possible repeat of the recent coup d’etat in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic.

Some of them who spoke to The ICIR said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should have learnt some lessons and gone beyond ‘sanction lifting’ and ensured regional leadership prioritised welfarist government for the people.

Notably, ECOWAS leadership has commenced lifting sanctions issued earlier to Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali – a move hailed by many diplomatic observers and described as gearing towards the reintegration of the regional membership blocs.

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The three countries were sanctioned by ECOWAS for enforcing a military regime and severing diplomatic ties with France, their colonial masters.

They officially took a sovereign decision on Sunday, January 28, to pull out their nations from ECOWAS.

“The key lesson is to make our democracies more democratic and ensure that the dividends of democracies are delivered to the people. This will enable people not to seek alternatives as witnessed in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali,” a diplomatic analyst and social critic, Majeed Dahiru, told The ICIR.

He further said that any policy that impoverished the people and pushed them to their fringe of existence should be revised and replaced with welfare policies. This way, people won’t seek alternatives to democratic leadership, he noted.

Dahiru also advised that Nigeria would as a result of this latest development open diplomatic channels between the Republic of Niger which had been a long and trusted ally of Nigeria.

“Niger has been Nigeria’s trusted ally in economy, security, and welfare. As a result, Nigeria must ensure it restores the relationship that has been severely strained.

“We need to reactivate our diplomatic machinery with them and engage with the regime in Niger and assure them of cooperation of relationship with them.”

Speaking with The ICIR, Muhktar Imam, a professor of Political and International Relationships and Director of Strategic Partnership at Al-Muhibbah University, Abuja, said it was saddening that 75 years after independence in some parts of Africa, the continent still witnessed a resurgence of military incursion into its political space.

However, he expressed concerns that democracy was witnessing a reversal of gains it had made on the continent with many people complaining and agitating over how democratically elected officials run offices.

He described the steps taken so far by ECOWAS as good diplomatic bargaining.

“Diplomatic bargaining here is key which ensures some sort of ground shifting, which was witnessed with lifting sanctions. This would help in deepening multilateralism, especially now we’re advocating for a place at the UN Security Council,” he added.



    Economic benefits

    He pointed out that the ECOWAS economy and the region would strengthen regional trade integration and the kinds of conflicts being witnessed should strengthen bonds when effectively handled.

    “Lifting the sanction, opening up the borders, will help in salvage the economic hardships,” he stressed.

    Strengthening security

    In terms of security, Imam said the Sahel was very crucial to the world and to the region extending to the West and North Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and some parts of Europe.

    On the global scale, he listed the benefits to include, “the international joint task force and deepening cooperation in the region to ameliorate the insecurity as terrorism has become transnational.”








    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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