By Lawrence Audu
It is no longer news that the military juntas in the three Sahel nations of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have unanimously announced their decision to leave the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS, following tensions from the regional bloc since the military coup in Niger last July.
Although the three nations have been suspended from ECOWAS with Niger and Mali facing heavy sanctions, while struggling with jihadist violence and poverty, they have hardened their positions and joined forces in an “Alliance of Sahel States”
In an interview, a prominent security and counter insurgency expert, Dr MS Abubakar said, it is unfortunate that these three countries who were all founding members of ECOWAS are pulling out of the regional body.
“The implications are grave. Their exit from ECOWAS can bolster Guinea to follow suit which will further weaken the organisation.
“Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso has a combined population of 80 million plus. Imagine you losing 80 million out of 450,000 million. The ECOWAS bloc has a population of 450,000 million or thereabouts so the exit of these three countries will negatively affect ECOWAS.
“I also know that the Franc CFA will experience difficulties because these three countries said they will float a new currency and a new central bank.
“I think ECOWAS needs to sit up and address the issues of bad governance characterised by lack of accountability and inefficiency” he adds
He blamed leadership failure in ECOWAS, which is because of a poor grasp of international affairs.
“The handlers of ECOWAS made a big mistake when they threatened to use force on Niger; it should have been the last stage of the last option. That single threat made Niger to run to Russia and thereafter sought for solace and support from Mali and Burkina Faso.
“The way I see it, it’s too late to do anything now. These countries are in the full grip of Vladimir Putin and KGB agents are everywhere in these countries. However, if ECOWAS can remove the sanctions, some glimmer hope can be seen” he adds.
Niger had hoped for an opportunity to talk through differences with fellow states of ECOWAS which has imposed heavy economic and financial sanctions following the coup that ousted President Bazoum.
Already, there are heightened concerns over over the conflicts spreading southward to the Gulf of Guinea states of Ghana, Togo and Benin, following the French military withdrawal from the Sahel, the region along the Sahara desert across Africa.