By Iranloye Sofiu Taye

The recent withdrawal of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has raised significant concerns, necessitating Nigeria to adopt a forward-thinking approach that combines diplomatic finesse and deterrent measures. This comprehensive strategy aims to effectively address the situation in these nations and facilitate genuine reconciliation, leading to the restoration of democracy, bolstering counter-terrorism efforts, curbing arms proliferation, strengthening regional security, and promoting economic development.

The gravity of this matter cannot be overstated, given the deep-rooted ethnic, historical, and political ties that have historically bound our nations together. The decision of these countries to withdraw from ECOWAS is a direct consequence of the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic following the coup d’état that unfolded in Mali and Burkina Faso last year. Disturbingly, the region has witnessed numerous attempted coups across West Africa, with a dozen military-led campaigns claiming to liberate their nations from the clutches of superpowers such as France, the United States, Russia, and the broader Western hegemony. Others argue that internal insecurity and economic challenges within their respective states have fueled these coup d’états.

A sense of solidarity exists among military governments once they seize power in Africa. Following successful coups, the leaders of these military regimes consistently declare their unwavering support for one another. For instance, both Burkina Faso and Mali’s military regimes have issued threats to intervene militarily in Niger if any foreign intervention occurs, even if it originates from ECOWAS. In recent years, West Africa has experienced a disturbing surge in military coups, with countries such as Mali, Chad, Guinea, Sudan, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Niger falling victim to political instability and military takeovers. These coups have been triggered by a variety of factors, including corruption allegations, poor governance, security challenges, and human rights abuses.

The current situation in Mali serves as a prime example. In August 2020, mutinous soldiers seized control of the government, citing widespread protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s administration. Colonel Assimi Goïta assumed the role of interim president. However, this was not an isolated incident. In April 2021, Chad fell victim to another military coup, resulting in the death of President Deby. Similar takeovers occurred in Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Gambia, each driven by their own set of grievances and challenges.

The alarming trend of military coups has led to a concerning development of a proposed confederation among the states under military rule, including Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. This confederation aims to establish a common front that contradicts the principles and regulations of ECOWAS, the regional organization that vehemently opposed military rule. Additionally, the sudden alliance with the Russian Federation by this military junta and the presence of Russian Wagner machinery in the West African subregion will further complicate the situation.

In light of these developments, Nigeria must take proactive steps to address the situation and restore stability in the West African sub-region. A multifaceted approach is required, combining diplomatic negotiations, regional cooperation, and robust security measures. Nigeria, as a key player in the region, can leverage its diplomatic influence and historical relationships to initiate dialogue with the concerned nations. This dialogue should emphasize reconciliation, inclusive governance, and respect for democratic principles. By fostering an environment conducive to peaceful resolutions, Nigeria can help reverse the tide of political instability and military takeovers in the region.

In addition to diplomatic efforts, Nigeria should collaborate with ECOWAS and other regional partners to implement stringent measures that deter further coup attempts. These measures may include targeted economic sanctions, travel restrictions, and arms embargoes against military regimes that undermine democratic processes. By sending a clear message that unconstitutional power grabs will not be tolerated, Nigeria can play a pivotal role in deterring future coup attempts and safeguarding the democratic foundations of the subregion.

Moreover, Nigeria should prioritize intelligence sharing and joint military operations with neighboring countries to combat terrorism, curb arms proliferation, and enhance regional security. By pooling resources, intelligence, and military capabilities, West African nations can collectively address the threats posed by terrorist organizations and insurgent groups that exploit the power vacuums created by political instability. Furthermore, Nigeria must actively promote economic development and regional integration as a means to address the underlying socio-economic factors that contribute to political unrest. By fostering trade partnerships, encouraging investments, and supporting infrastructure development, Nigeria can help alleviate poverty, create employment opportunities, and enhance regional stability. This approach will not only mitigate the appeal of military takeovers but also foster a sense of shared prosperity and cooperation among nations.

Ultimately, Nigeria’s pivotal role in foiling the alleged confederation movement and restoring stability to the West African subregion cannot be overstated. By employing a comprehensive strategy that combines diplomatic finesse, regional cooperation, and robust security measures, Nigeria can help foster genuine reconciliation, return democracy to those states, curb political instability, combat terrorism, ensure arms control, and promote economic development. Nigeria must seize this opportunity to assert its leadership and work tirelessly towards a future of peace, democracy, and prosperity in the West African sub-region.

Iranloye Sofiu Taiye (Optimism Mirror) is a political/public affairs analyst, writer, public speaker, and youth advocate. Can be reached via