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I am writing this article as a management scholar/author, development activist and patriot. One of my higher degrees is MSc (International Affairs and Diplomacy – 1991 – 1993). In this programme, I deliberately specialized in international economic relations. I have a fairly good idea of the complex nature of international economic behaviours of nations. For that reason, I am using this preamble to advise our visionless leaders, that the proposed military intervention in Niger Republic should be abandoned immediately for the interests of all of us. 

It is going to be a moronic blunder. The policies and actions of advanced nations, are largely centred on exploitation and permanent economic interest devoid of emotion or sentiments. I have written several articles on multinational corporations and their operations in the third world nations. I have also written a popular handbook with the tittle – The Third World and Underdevelopment: The Role of “Sambo Personality” and Development Strategies.  

Nigeria is indeed a nation of morbid inanities and aberrations. This country is blessed with 44 different mineral resources in commercial quantities. One is huge oil and gas reserves. While other oil producing nations like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, to mention just a few, have used their oil wealth to diversify their economies in the various sectors and greatly improved the living standards of their citizens, Nigeria has nothing to show for her own oil wealth. The oil wealth is largely in the pockets of the privileged few, mostly national leaders and their cronies. While many nations (oil and non-oil producing), have refineries for domestic and export purposes, shamefully, this nation has no single functional refinery. She still pays idle refinery workers for years and owing university lecturers 8 months salaries (2022). 

Not having a running refinery has led to the nebulous and fraudulent oil subsidies, year in, year out. The present administration on its first day of inauguration recklessly removed the oil subsidy. This has caused untold hardships for the citizens. Inflation is at the rooftop. This is coupled with other challenges – high unemployment rate, harsh business environments, insecurity and poverty. Suddenly, the same government came up with a borrowed N500 billion palliative to cushion the negative impacts of the removal of the fraudulent oil subsidy without deep thinking or adequate planning. Nigerians are still shocked listening to the Senate President – Godswill Akpabio, on how the loan will be appropriated with the Senate (the Red Chambers) made up of only 109 already wealthy persons getting N70billion. How about the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC), made up of only 24 people, carting away N35 billion? The proportion going to the ordinary Nigerians (millions of people), in whatever manner has not been implemented. 

The citizens, no doubt, are deeply confronted with excruciating economic conditions. Like a thunderbolt, there is a proposal for Nigeria’s military intervention in Niger Republic because of the recent coup d’état that took place on July 26, 2023 led by the county’s Commander of the Presidential Guard, General Abdourahamane Tchiani. This supposed military intervention, as thoughtless as it is, given the present mood of the nation is dead on arrival. 

The reasons for this assertion are many. This is a country where more than ¾ of her population are in abject poverty; her Military and Police have not subdued or suppressed daunting internal security challenges – boko haram, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, hired assassination, herdsmen’s menace, etc.; that hardly produces 6000 megawatt of electricity every day for an estimated population of 218 million; with educational and health systems in shambles; with culpably poor infrastructures; has her own many internal contradictions, etc. rushing to fight a needless or useless war because of baseless ego.

What has Nigeria as “giant of Africa” done to remove sit-tight Presidents/leaders in Africa? Few examples will suffice. Felix Houghouet Boigny was in power for 34 years; Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo stayed in power for 40 years (currently replaced by the son – Faure Gnassingbe); Todono Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea has been in power. Since 1979 (44 years), Paul Biya of Cameroun has been that country’s President since November 1982 (42 years). 

Other long-lasting or (sit-tight) former African heads of state or Presidents included: Omar Bango (Gabon), Mummar Gaddafi (Libya), Eduardo Dos Santos (Angola), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo Republic), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), King Makhosetive Mswati III (Swaziland), Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia), and Mamadou Tandja (Niger). 

Equally important is what Nigeria has done with the earlier military juntas or coup d’états; has she been able to address or redress electoral and political irregularities and manipulations in some countries, including herself? What has she done to champion good governance in West-Africa and the entire continent? Is she not a good example of poor leadership in all areas of governance? Why is Nigeria not observing or investigating the reasons why a good number of Francophone countries are rebelling against their colonial masters – France? Why inherit other nations’ internal problems?

This nation is currently suffering from huge internal and external debts (debt overhang). If she is borrowing for palliatives, how does she hope to finance a full scale military engagement in Niger, which surely will engulf Northern Nigeria, as likely battle grounds? Is the country ready to lose our soldiers and the destruction of infrastructures in the North? How prepared is the country for citizens who will be internally displaced? How well has the country done with the present management of IDPs in the North –East as a result of the activities of Boko Haram? How prepared is Nigeria for the influx of thousands and millions of refugees in the event of full-scale war? Don’t we have Nigerians as refugees in the Sahel region? All these questions need answers – which will include adequate preparations and management. 

It is unfortunate that Nigeria, for decades, has been saddled with leaders, many at highest echelon who are low-wits. They are bereft of strategic thinking and visioning. A popular axiom states that no one eats his or her cake and have it back. Due to short-term interests or benefits, mainly pecuniary in nature, Nigerian politicians have politicized and tribalised virtually all the vital areas of the nation’s life. Appointments are made along the same mundane criteria. The military and the judiciary, which ordinarily should be insulated from such unwholesome practices are also victims. The university system, which is supposed to have a universal outlook, is also a victim. Read my article – *_“Nigerian University System and Political Exposure.”_*

How effective can a military intervention be in Niger Republic, with politicized Armed Forces and with divergent ethnic cum religious inclinations or loyalty? That a sensitive military document leaked recently and purposefully, was an indication of something sinister, obviously, not for national interest. That Northern Senators and Elders openly opposed military intervention against the government’s plans is another indication of a known ethnic and religious cleavage or affiliation. Luckily, the National Assembly is reported to have refused approval for Nigeria’s military intervention in Niger Republic. This is a very wise decision.

Why didn’t the Nigerian government consider diplomatic option before the declaration of a possible military intervention, being currently the leader of ECOWAS, starting with an empty ultimatum? The answer is simple! Lack of serious intellectual and strategic rigour. Most government policies, in all the sectors of the nation are shallow and prone to deliberate escape routes and failure. The military junta in Niger know this short-coming hence, their refusal to allow Nigeria’s high-level diplomatic delegation to land in their airport. They were turned back. What a disgrace!

The governments of Mali and Burkina-Faso recently jointly issued a statement (or a warning) that any attack on Niger Republic by Nigeria or ECOWAS, is also an attack on them. And that they will respond appropriately. Lacking in analytical, conceptual and diagnostic skills, which will enable policy makers have a holistic view on issues (matters of strategic national importance) some top government officials started boasting of how one division of the Nigerian Army will defeat the three countries put together. 

My questions is how? Have the entire Nigerian Armed Forces (Army, Air force, and Navy) defeated Boko Haram for over twenty years now? Our leaders are not students of history and will never learn anything from it. Recall that towards the build-up to the Nigerian Civil war, General Gowon boasted that what they were planning to do in the then Eastern Region was a mere police action that was going to last for only few weeks. And despite the fact that the civil war (1967 – 1970) was the only way in recent history where all the world powers forgot their differences, spheres of influence and worked together to suppress Eastern region. This is in addition to other international conspiracies. For example, the pilots of all the MiG fighters, manufactured by the then USSR were all Egyptian Moslems. 

Note, that MiG is Soviet military fighter aircraft manufactured by a bureau founded in 1939 by Artem Mikoyan (M) and Mikhail Gurevich (G). The letter _*“i’*_ in MiG is the Russian word “and.” All the ruthless mercenaries during the civil war, locally known as _*gwodogwodo,*_ all came from Sahel region. Many Biafran soldiers were poorly trained, poorly fed, without adequate and appropriate military equipment. Other unorthodox methods including effective land, sea and air blockage, hunger policy, sowing seeds of discord among minority groups (which is subsisting) etc., were used, yet the war lasted about 30 months. 

The soldiers that fought in the civil war that are still alive can testify to the efficacious and devastating capabilities of _*ogbunigwe*_ (an indigenous invention). Recall also that USA has not forgotten her nasty experiences and humiliation in the Vietnam War. Many people and nations took it for granted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will last only weeks or few months. Today, everybody knows better. There lies the dangers of over confidence.

Now, we are talking of a possible war, where some of our top leaders claim that they have relations in these nations, are of the same religion and some nationals of those countries are also in Nigeria. Regrettably, the minister of transportation for many years, came from South-South, yet there is no rail services in the entire South-East and the strategic areas of South-South. Conversely, Nigeria spent billions of borrowed money to construct rail facilities and highways in Niger Republic, due to cultural and religious affinity. Will the same people in our armed forces be prepared to destroy such facilities in their ancestral home? What I am saying is that the present administration should listen and be wise.

It is globally assumed that military rule is becoming an anathema. The question remains – why do world powers opposed some military regimes and tacitly support others? The answer is clear – national interests. The heightened interest by world powers, namely USA, Britain, France, China and Russia, is because Niger Republic has Uranium in large quantity. Uranium is a very essential raw material used as fuel for nuclear power plants and nuclear reactors that operate naval ships and submarines. It is also used in nuclear weapons. Can you beat that? The earlier the leaders of the Third World realize this nexus or the permanent economic agenda of advanced nations, vis-a-viz their relations with poor countries, the better for them and their citizens. Nigeria should know this fact – that Niger Republic cannot be an exception.

As a prominent and rich leader in West Africa, Nigeria is claiming that regional peace is largely her motive for any form of intervention. Admitted, regional peace is needed for meaningful economic development. Beyond that, what is the overall economic interest of this nation in trying to dabble into another nation’s internal affairs when she is not a good example? What is her interest in attempting to waste her almost depleted or meagre resources in advanced countries’ global economic chess game? I am only thinking aloud.

Currently, Nigeria has become more divided and ethnic distrust is the order of the day. This is because of divisive, nepotistic, tribalistic, religious and outright hatred policies of the last administration. Nigerians are suffering because there is hunger in the land. State and federal governments should work assiduously to seek out proven intellectuals, professionals and development experts to help proffer solutions to the avalanche of challenges and problems confronting this rich but mismanaged nation. What are all the state governments and federal governments doing to create more wealth for the citizens? I can say nothing. This I because, every month, all the tiers of government are just waiting for revenue sharing at Abuja. Read my article – *_“The Shame and Curse of Monthly Revenue Allocation in Nigeria.”_*

In conclusion, on a personal note, I often advise people – relations, colleagues, friends, etc. to avoid ego battles and proxy wars. They often end in Pyrrhic victory. By extension, Nigeria should not allow herself to be involved in a proxy war between opposing world powers in Niger Republic that are seeking to protect their long term economic and strategic interests. The handwriting is all over the place. Leaders of the Third World should stop to be willing and “banana” lackeys of imperialist powers and multinational corporations (MNCs). As usual, take the message and forget about the messenger.

*Professor Onuoha wrote from the University of Port Harcourt (August 7, 2023).

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