Nigeria/Niger Feud: Kettle and Pot Metaphor


By Ike Abonyi

“To see the world as it is, first we gotta take off our Western glasses. Look at the human world with human eyes, only then you’ll fathom justice and progress.”

― Abhijit Naskar.

In Africa, a holier-than-thou attitude is best depicted by what the English call the pot calling the kettle black. The above metaphor fits perfectly into the present Niger/West African debacle.

By trying to enforce democracy in the Niger Republic, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Nigeria are arrogating to themselves the role of prefect of democracy in Africa. Truly, they are not but are as guilty as the Nigerien military junta. Is it because the Nigerien soldiers are in fighting gear? Is what they did any different from what Tinubu, Mahmoud Yakubu, and some security operatives did on February 25 in Nigeria? Is it not the same usurpation of power and undermining of democracy? Niger’s case is even better that they are enjoying the backing of the people, reacting to the fall of the so-called democracy.

PBAT does not even have the backing of the people, but money and power. If a free and fair election had taken place in Nigeria last February, the Niger military would not have contemplated a coup, but when they saw a forceful grab of power in Nigeria, it turned their minds to its possibility. Even our military may be watching the turn of events there and learning lessons.

If Nigeria’s mission to the Niger Republic fails as it is bound to, it should be attributed to the mission’s insincerity. Both Nigeria and the Western backers have the quality of not expressing genuine feelings on the issue of democracy in Nigeria and Africa. When the main ingredients of democracy are found missing in the democratic meal in Nigeria and they all turn a blind eye, it is right that both countries will not be listened to in times like this.

Until the global community creates one standard for democracy and ensures it is followed without interests standing in the way, so long will there be a problem with that form of government.

Until the international community, particularly the West, stops being duplicitous and stops playing hide-and-seek games with democracy in Africa, the Niger Republic scenario will be a recurring decimal until it engulfs the entire continent.

Western democracies as represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in the Niger case using Nigeria to fight for democracy is tantamount to trying to use armed robbers to combat crimes. Is Nigeria morally qualified to fight for democracy, especially given what happened on February 25, that the whole international and local observers described as a sham? A product of that travesty now leading the way for democracy. What a contradiction!

Was Nigeria’s hurried chairmanship of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, deserving in the first place? Should a sub-regional body desirous of instilling democracy and peace rush to give chairmanship to a President whose “ election win” is under judicial scrutiny? Was Tinubu’s emergence as ECOWAS chair not yet another devious arm-twisting of democracy?

When military rule takes over the entire sub-region, the West will then know the harm it has done to democracy by playing double standards. It’s not in doubt that whatever happens to Nigeria has a ripple effect on the whole of Africa. But rather than strive to get Nigeria right, the West chooses to play the ostrich.

Any form of government, even if it descends from heaven but fails to deliver good governance, is bound to have issues. It is a fact that democracy has failed woefully in delivering goods in Africa. Rather, it has only fertilized corruption with the West providing a sanctuary to the loots, the looters, and their families.

Any watcher of international politics knows that democracy as being practised in Africa is stillborn as it has failed to deliver the desired dividends. Democracy in Africa has succeeded in making us enemies to ourselves, providing a platform for the looting of our treasury and impoverishing of the people. The rumour of a coup in the Niger Republic has been there for over two years, but rather than address the issue of poverty and bad government, selfish, colonial France chose to align with the politicians in that country to further impoverish the people in the name of democracy. Democracy my foot!

In Nigeria, coup rumours have lingered since the February 25 electoral robbery; they may intensify if the judiciary fails the people and does not reverse the naked rape of democracy that happened that day. The West will later come crying wolf over nonexistent democracy. If the judiciary fails to save Nigeria’s democracy and a coup happens, it will enjoy the support of the 133 million people who were sent into multi-dimensional poverty by the so-called democrats, outvoted at the election but rigged back into the reckoning to the utter disregard of the people. It would have been better and even cheaper for the West to fight for free and fair elections than this medicine-after-death approach after the coup d’état.

Recall that until the West, led by the United States, collaborated to eliminate Col Muammar Ghadafi of Libya 12 years ago, his regime’s strand of democracy was a model, focussing on the delivery of good governance and the judicious deployment of the people’s natural and fiscal resources. Since Ghadafi’s extermination, that country and its neighbors have neither known nor seen good governance delivered. The ruthless crushing of that regime is still hurting all including Nigeria, as Boko Haram, our nemesis, has a connection to it.

America, the UK, and France have been pushing Nigeria into a proxy war with the Niger Republic. It never mattered to them if the man they are sending to Niamey to restore democracy is evidentially an anti-democrat himself. It does not matter to the West if the teacher they are hiring to teach a subject passed it in the first instance. By trying to use Tinubu to fight democracy, the West is indirectly validating his dubious entry to power. The phone call to Tinubu by US Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and a British Minister visiting him to push him to fight in Niger is anathema because he lacks the moral right to fight for democracy. What they have done is just to try to legitimize Tinubu’s presidency and indirectly anger Nigerians.

The vehement reaction of Nigerians opposing Tinubu’s mission in the Niger Republic is not an endorsement of the military coup; what we see is a rejection of Tinubu trying to wear the garb of a democrat while violating and vandalizing it at home. If a military coup occurs in Nigeria today the people will welcome it not as a show of preference for the junta but as a demonstration of their opposition to the kind of democracy being practised in the country, where money and brigandage, rather than the people’s votes, count.

The reason America said that it would release Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s crime record in 2026 is to use it to arm-twist him as is happening in the Niger Republic matter. Many political watchers believe that the file will never be released and if at all, it would be watered down if he plays along. If not the height of hypocrisy, why should a country postpone the revealing of a criminal in a crime committed by someone on their soil just because of interest?

The United Nations, by its pronouncements on the Niger Republic matter, has also been sucked in. The UN is roundly exposed as a body that has a feeling largely contradicted by its actions. The UN has approved for ECOWAS to intervene militarily in the Niger Republic to save democracy. Where has the UN and its democratic vision been all along while France has been exploiting the people and aiding and abetting a failed government? What should be the UN’s interest, the people or their failed President? The people want the change because they have no other means of changing a bad government. The Niger issue should be a lesson for the West to know that their double standards have been uncovered. If they want democracy in Africa, a free and fair election should be paramount. If the people can change a bad government through the ballot, there may be no need for a coup, but where they can’t, a coup remains a glorious alternative.

Nigerians opposing the military option in the Niger Republic are also not oblivious to other motives driving Tinubu. With war, the operatives will find ample opportunity to further arm-twist the judiciary to look at the security implications in the case before them rather than the law. Going to war would also be an avenue for corruption through increased defence spending and more money for the boys so that they can play along.

So if the West wants democracy to strive in Africa, it must show more than passing interest in how bad governments can be changed through the ballot. So long as the people’s will is not respected, will other means of chasing away unpopular people be an option? We would like to end with Aristotle’s assertion: “Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be equal.” God help us.

Adadainfo is an online newspaper reporting Nigerian news. Email: Phone: 08071790941

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