A former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has dismissed claims that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is doing the bidding of France and other Western countries in its efforts to resolve the political instability in Niger.
The West African bloc is currently working to restore political stability in Niger after the military toppled and detained President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26th.
The regional body has imposed several sanctions on Niger and has threatened military action if the coup leaders fail to return power to Bazoum, with many accusing them of acting on France’s directives.
But speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, Akinyemi said though he does not support French activities in Africa, ECOWAS is only trying to stop the spread of coups in the sub-region and not protecting French interests.
“The French have troops there (Niger) and those troops have to go because if they have been there and the terrorism activities in the Sahel whether in Mali, Niger or Burkina Faso have been there and yet the French troops have been there for 60 years you wonder, what have they been doing? They have been looking after France’s interests and not the interest of the Africans.
“So, the French troops deserve to go; I am not defending France at all. But as a scholar, I don’t see ECOWAS policies being in tandem with French policies. The French has its interest which is to protect its economic interest; ECOWAS’ interest was to regard the coup in Niger as a threat to their stability and safety in their own countries.
“They (ECOWAS) don’t want the spread of coups into their territories. That is why they felt they had to draw the line in Niger. So, that does not mean that ECOWAS is being tele-guided by France or that Nigeria is being tele-guided by France,” Akinyemi said.
In its last extraordinary summit on Niger in Abuja, Nigeria last Thursday, ECOWAS ordered the deployment of its standby force to restore democracy in the West African nation.