Africa has many challenges, from sit-tight leaders, corruption, terrorism, forced migration, poor infrastructure, import-oriented economies, election rigging, low energy capacity, food insecurity, poor healthcare, maternal mortality, high rates of malnutrition, HIV-AIDS, huge debts, and unemployment, among others.
It is the recent spate of coups, however, that seems to be bothering me. President Bazoum of Niger Republic has been deposed. Bazoum, a key ally of the West, especially the US and France, came to power on April 2, 2021. There was an attempted coup days before Bazoum was sworn in. Bazoum was born in 1959, and he is the first Diffa Arab to be President. Niger has had four of its leaders removed via coups and one (Ibrahim Mainasara) assassinated. Since independence in 1960, there have been seven coups in Niger, and the latest coup is the seventh coup in West Africa since 2020. This latest coup happened in the seventh month of 2023. There have been coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Niger.
The following Presidents of Niger were removed by coups: Hamani Driori (1960-1974), Mahmane Ousmane (1993-1996), Mahmadou Tandja (1999-2010), Mohammed Bazoum (2021-2023).
This latest coup in Niger took place exactly three days before the 57th-anniversary of the July 29, 1966 (“Rematch Coup”) in Nigeria. The July 29 coup is regarded as the bloodiest coup in Africa.
The United States has spent $500 million in Niger on security since 2012 in order to assist the tiny country in fighting ISIS in the neighbourhood. The coup leader, Colonel Amadou Abdurame, said the defence and security forces took power because of the deteriorating security situation and bad governance in the country. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has strongly condemned the coup and asked the coupists to free President Bazoum, who remains in their care. President Bazoum did not win the election in the first round, in which he got 39% of the vote. He won 57% of the vote in the second round. He promised to fight corruption, provide more education for girls, and deal with demographic problems by seeking to limit family size and reinforce security.
Niger is a key ally of the West in its attempts to curb irregular migration.
Watch Adetunji Omotola Discuss What’s Next for Niger and the Sahel Region After the Military Takeover with David Otto and Kabir Adamu