IT is a truism that a country’s foreign policy is the reflection of its domestic circumstances. A country that faces huge economic, political and security crises at home would be foolhardy to prosecute a war abroad. Furthermore, a robust foreign policy depends on domestic support. Thus, it’s utterly reckless and dangerous for a president to take his country into a foreign war without the endorsement of the legislature and understanding of critical domestic constituencies! Yet, that’s what Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s new and sophomoric president, seems intent on doing in response to the military coup in Niger Republic.
Since the coup in July, which removed President Mohammed Bazoum from power and installed General Abdourahamane Tchiani as head of state, Tinubu has talked tough, vowing that “all means will be used to restore constitutional order in Niger”. Under his leadership as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, the organisation gave the junta a week’s ultimatum to reverse the coup. When that failed, ECOWAS ordered the “deployment” of a “standby force” to invade Niger. Now, it’s said to have agreed a “D-Day” for military action!
But anyone who thinks this is an ECOWAS affair is mistaken. Nigeria accounts for 60 per cent of ECOWAS population and 78 per cent of its GDP, while also providing the lion’s share of its budget and military capability. So, Nigeria is the linchpin of ECOWAS. If push comes to shove and ECOWAS goes to war with Niger, it’s Nigeria that will provide the largest number of the soldiers and the bulk of the funding, and it’s Nigeria that would suffer the most casualties and economic costs.
In recent times, government ministers have blamed Nigeria’s economic challenges on the Russia-Ukraine war. So, why would anyone think that ECOWAS war with Niger, which could be protracted and draw in Niger’s friendly and military-led neighbours, notably Mali and Burkina Faso, would not inflict huge economic costs on Nigeria and worsen its security problems? As the National Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society, Abdurrahman Ahmed, who led a delegation of Nigeria’s Islamic scholars to General Tchiani, recently put it: “Expect more bandits in Nigeria if Niger is attacked.” He said war with Niger would be “an opportunity to strengthen insurgency, for bandits to have free rein and intensify their cross border attacks.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria has imposed stringent economic sanctions on Niger. First, it cut power supply to Niger, which depends on Nigeria for over 70 per cent of its electricity. Second, Nigeria closed its borders with Niger. But a key test of economic statecraft is that it must be effective and not result in self-inflicted economic costs. Yet, the sanctions on Niger have, so far, failed that test: they have not reversed the coup and have harmed Nigeria.
Economic sanctions tend to hurt ordinary citizens in the targeted country and turn them against the imposer. That’s what has happened in Niger where ordinary Nigeriens have rallied behind the junta and against Nigeria, ECOWAS and meddling Western countries like France and the United States. Furthermore, evidence shows that the seven Northern Nigerian states that share borders with Niger are incurring huge economic losses due to the border closure. Clearly, Nigeria is hurting itself by purporting to be punishing Niger. Given that Hausa, a major Nigerian ethnic group, makes up more than half Niger’s population, Nigeria is, indeed, unwise to impose sanctions, and consider war, on Niger!
But the foregoing raises two questions. First, why is war with Niger in Nigeria’s national interest, when insecurity ravages Nigeria, when just last week 36 Nigerian soldiers were killed during an ambush by armed gangs in Niger State? Second, why is war with Niger a priority for Tinubu, who is barely three months in office and faces monumental governance and leadership challenges at home?
Take the second question first. Truth be told, Tinubu is a very weak president who lacks overwhelming domestic support. He came to power through a controversial election and with a minority share of the popular vote, rejected by 63 per cent of the voters. As I write, everyone awaits the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, on his election, and the matter will eventually go to the Supreme Court. Technically, Tinubu could be removed from office. For a president in such circumstances to be contemplating a foreign war in less than 100 days in office really rankles. Inevitably, Tinubu’s warmongering has triggered speculations about his real motivation. Someone cynically suggested that he wanted to declare a state of emergency so as to derail the election petitions. I doubt it! But how could Tinubu take such a reckless gamble? He wrote to the Senate asking for approval to send Nigerian soldiers to invade Niger, ignoring the fact that the far North, whose votes made him president, would never support war against Niger, with which they share centuries-old historical and cultural ties. So, unsurprisingly, influenced by the views of Northern senators, the Senate rejected his request. He ignored the domestic constraints, failed to assess the situation carefully, and suffered an embarrassing foreign policy defeat! Which brings us to the broader question: Why is war with Niger in Nigeria’s national interest? Under international law, a country could use force against another on the ground of self-defence or reprisals. Neither exists here. The coup in Niger poses no imminent threat to Nigeria’s security. So, the only possible excuse is the defence of democracy. But that’s utterly unconvincing. If, God forbid, there’s a coup in Nigeria, could ECOWAS threaten the junta? No, because “might is right”! And what about the three ECOWAS countries under military rule before Niger, when would ECOWAS force attack them? Never! So, why Niger?
In any case, what’s democracy? In his book Enemies of Society, Paul Johnson argues that the true essence of democracy is “the ability to remove a government without violence, to punish political failure by votes”. But if that’s impossible because of rigged elections and tenure elongation, as common in West Africa, is that democracy? Militarism thrives on political instability, the antidote is credible elections, good governance and an independent judiciary that can right wrongs.
Truth is, military intervention is not the answer to the coup in Niger, but diplomacy and sensitivity to the wishes of Nigeriens. Thus, Tinubu’s strongman, macho politics is misguided, reckless!
Osun Pensioners: Governor Adeleke is Committed to Payment of Pensions, Entitlements
The government of Governor Ademola Adeleke has reacted to the rumor of accrued pensions not paid by his government as alleged by opposition in the state, upon which some unscrupulous elements are allegedly planning a protest march.
We want the public to note that the current government has been consistent in paying some of the accrued pensions, owed by previous governments, from inception of his administration
While we have ascertained and confirmed that the rumour of a planned protest is not true,we alert the public to the spreading of the fake news designed to offend and confuse the contributory pensioners who are strong supporters of Governor Adeleke.
We assert that the pensioners and other stakeholders are aware of sustained efforts of the current government to pay up the inherited pensions.
It may also interest stakeholders to note that the Governor has 48 hours ago directed the hosting of an emergency consultative meeting with contributory pensioners to table full data before them and agree on a path to further payments.
Details of the meeting are to be communicated to relevant stakeholders.
Ahead of the meeting, we take liberty to release part of the records with renewed commitment of the administration to accelerate the payment process.
The records according to the Local Government Staff Pension Bureau in the state, shows that the government of Ademola Adeleke has made payment to both the contributory pensioners and old pensioners in the state, with effect from 28th November, 2022 till date.
The breakdown is as follows:
MONTHLY PENSION (Old Pension Scheme) – Three billion naira (N3 billion).
PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS – Two billion, nine hundred and sixteen million, two hundred and twenty-four thousand, three hundred and forty-one naira and thirty kobo (N2,916,224,341: 30).
LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAFF PENSIONERS – One billion, Sixty-two million, Four Hundred and Sixty-nine thousand, Seven hundred and Forty-three naira, Eighty-six Kobo (N1,062,469,743 : 86).
Regarding Death Benefits:
PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS – Three hundred and Twenty-four million, Two hundred and Eighty-nine thousand, Five hundred and Ninety naira, Sixty-two Kobo (N324,289,590: 62).
LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAFF PENSIONERS – Nine-six million, One hundred and Eighty-one thousand, Thirty-two naira, Ninety-two Kobo (N96,181,032: 92).
MONTHLY PENSION (Contributory Pension) Remittances:
PRIMARY SCHOOL – One billion, Eighty-three million,One hundred and Ninety-seven thousand,two hundred and Sixty-five naira, Thirty-six Kobo (N1,083,197,265:36).
LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAFF PENSIONERS – Six hundred and One million, Seven hundred and Seventy-four thousand, Thirty-two naira, Thirty-two kobo (N601,774,032:32).
PRESENTATION OF BOND CERTIFICATES:
PRIMARY SCHOOL – One billion, Nine hundred and Eleven million, Three hundred and Seventy thousand, Two hundred and Eleven naira, Forty-four Kobo (N1,911,370,211:44).
LOCAL GOVT STAFF PENSIONERS – Seven hundred and Eight million, Forty-one thousand, Three hundred and Seventy-eight naira, Ninety-seven Kobo (N708,041,378:97).
The government appreciates the Pensioners and especially the contributory pensioners for their understanding, resilience and appreciation of the high level of commitment already shown by the government and urge them to distance themselves from evil operatives of the previous regime who were responsible for the pension debt in the first place.
As we remind the public and pensioners that Governor Adeleke has workers welfare as a number on his agenda, we affirm that the Governor has the best interest of workers, pensioners and the public at heart and his government will therefore not under any circumstances deny retirees their due rights and privileges.
The government reiterates its commitment to the good people of Osun state, and asked that the lying opposition party be shunned, as they are mischief makers.
Oluomo Kolapo Alimi
Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment
Mohbad: I Disguised To Candlelight, Shameful Things People Did – FPRO
The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has said that he was one of those who attended the candlelight and night of tribe held for Ilerioluwa Aloba, aka Mohbad, in Lagos.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police, however, said the conduct of some of those there did not serve the purpose.
In a tweet on his X handle, Adejobi said inasmuch as candlelight processions are a right, it should be done with decorum.
He tweeted: “None could recognise me, I disguised.
“But I intentionally attended to see things for myself and have an opinion about the whole thing.
“I gathered some intelligence there yesterday.
“Sincerely, many guys are our problem.
“You dey mourn, u con dey smoke, dey hit or attack people, dey drive reckless, etc.
“May his soul rest in peace.
“While I commend the organisers of the lagos procession for their steadfastness and understanding.
“I hope others will emulate them.
“It’s reasonable to end all processions at the latest 7pm.
“Candle light procession is a rite and must be purposeful.”
Ramsdale’s Time At Arsenal Coming To An End —Premier League Legend
Premier League legendary American goalkeeper Brad Friedel has said he is certain that Aaron Ramsdale’s time at Arsenal is coming to an end.
Ramsdale has been overlooked for selection in past two games, with summer signing David Raya getting the nod.
The Spanish goalkeeper joined Arsenal from Brentford on a £3million loan deal with a purchase option of £27m.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has insisted to the media that he will pick his goalkeeper based on tactical reasons.
But the fact that Raya has started in both the Premier League and now Champions League has many questioning his statements.
One of those is Friedel, who has the third-most appearances of any goalkeeper in Premier League history.
When asked if it’s over for Ramsdale if Raya starts this weekend’s north London derby against Tottenham, the American replied on talkSPORT: “Absolutely.”
“I thought from the second they signed him they signed him to be the new no.1, I don’t think you pay that much money for someone with one year left on their contract, I know he signed an extra contract and went on loan, but that was for other reasons.
“I think they really liked Raya so when he became available they pushed for him.”
“It’s very harsh on Ramsdale but it’s the coach’s decision,” the former Liverpool and Tottenham keeper said.
“I’m assuming Ramsdale at the end of this season will end up having to do what Matt Turner did at the end of the previous season and find another place to play.
“I know it’s early and people will say you have to see what he does, but I think Raya was brought in as the no.1, you thought maybe they could be swapping if they’d played Ramsdale in the Champions League, but that didn’t happen.
“I think we’ll see Raya in goal and he’ll be the incumbent no.1 this season.”
Ramsdale joined Arsenal in the summer of 2021, leaving Sheffield United in a £30m deal.
Last season the 25-year-old almost helped the Gunners to a first league title in almost two decades, which Friedel thinks will see him join another top club where he can play every match
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