Former UN Resident Coordinator to Guinea, Liberia, and Chad, Dr. K.O. Amaning, said that a political settlement is required to solve the political tension in Niger, stressing that military intervention should be the last resort in finding a lasting solution.
The analyst in international relations made these remarks during a virtual discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations-Ghana, on the theme “Niger Crisis, Implications for West Africa.”
“For those who think military intervention can help, I believe they need to reconsider that position, if they have the resources to be able to pursue and manage the fallout of this. I don’t think military intervention is something we should look at as a walk in the park, and therefore we should be able to resolve this problem. I think we should pay more attention to how we create economic growth to make democracy look good so that all the other people will emulate it. Whatever it takes, the only solution that will come will be a political settlement. And that is the only thing that allows us to build on whatever becomes peace in a more durable manner to be able to develop the area.”
He highlighted the importance of rebuilding the troubled country with the necessary resources.
Dr. Amaning lamented that the natural resources meant to alleviate its citizens from poverty remain untapped.
“Niger’s crisis dates back to a long decade of what I consider to be endemic poverty and the degradation of human dignity and the standard of living of the people. Poverty in my opinion has become structural violence, in which the people of Niger live. Imagine if all colonial and post-colonial governments had allowed Niger to use its resources, without any colonial treaties and pacts that hampered their governance. How all these resources we are talking about, the land for agriculture, uranium, oil, and gold, remain untapped.”
“If all of these had been subjected to international competition and other economic actors had been allowed to bid and work there, the history of Niger would have been different. There would have been economic growth, so we need to look at why there is endemic poverty.”
He urged African leaders, especially ECOWAS, not to add to the structural violence that has the potential to destroy their social and economic lives.
“If we want to help Niger and look at Niger in a way that we will want to judge Niger, especially all the years of constitutional review, we must be careful not to expect too much. If the state is poor, how do you expect the state institutions to work? And we should therefore not add to the structural violence that will come to destroy their social, political, and economic lives. That should be the least that we should look at.”
One of the participants took a swipe at ECOWAS for attempting to intervene in the Niger junta.
“If there are agitations, what are the problems? We need to call a spade a spade. And that is why I have a problem with ECOWAS. Why military intervention? Why did the people take power in the first place? Why can’t we find solutions to that? I think it’s time for us to rally around them and let them have their independence from France. You can call it the 2nd independence from France. Let them have the capability to decide.”