Though the Nigerian Senate, at the weekend, rejected President Bola Tinubu‘s request to deploy Nigerian troops in Niger Republic to restore democratic rule in the troubled country, military intervention may have come to Nigeria at a heavy cost to warrant a pull back from the avoidable brink.

By global average of cost of war to Gross Domestic Production (GDP) in countries, President Bola Tinubu’s foretold military incursion in Niger Republic will at least double Nigeria’s N2.98 trillion (i.e. 13.4 per cent) committed to defence in 2023 Appropriation Law.

The conservative estimate may even be more, given that countries at war now spend between 23.5 per cent and 59.1 per cent of their GDP on the economics of violence.

Indeed, the upper legislative chamber advised President Tinubu and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), which he leads, to explore a political solution to the crisis.

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, read the resolution after the lawmakers returned to plenary. Akpabio suggested that the President did not seek the approval of the Senate to go to war in Niger Republic because Mr Tinubu clearly indicated a plan to execute an ECOWAS mandate to deploy troops in Niger should the coupists remain recalcitrant.

With diplomatic curtains drawing to a close, ex-Generals and experts in Nigeria security and intelligence space have also warned the Federal Government to toe the part of pacifism and avoid embarking on proxy war.

Comparatively, Niger’s 26 million population – half of which are Hausa speaking – and its military should seemingly be up for grabs by a Brigade of Nigerian Army.

But the ‘big brother’ should reconsider going to war in the jihadist-plagued Sahel with a local economy that is tanking at home, an Armed Forces that is battle weary, and the unpredictable feisty geopolitical interests in the troubled francophone region.

Global findings on the cost of war and peace have shown that war could cost as much as 60 per cent of a country’s GDP. Findings by the Institute for Economic & Peace shows the average economic cost of violence in the 10 most conflict-affected countries in the world in 2019, is equivalent to 41 per cent of their GDP.

Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan ranked highest, with 59.1 per cent, 50.2 per cent and 46.3 per cent respectively of their GDP. In comparison, the average economic cost of violence in the 10 most peaceful countries amounts to just 3.9 per cent of their GDP, with Iceland (2.8 per cent), New Zealand (5.0 per cent) and Portugal (5.1 per cent).

From history, Nigeria’s deployment of 3000 soldiers to Liberia in August 1990, to join ECOWAS Peace Monitoring Group (ECOMONG), in a war that was meant to last for six months. It lasted seven years. In I999, it was estimated that Nigeria had lost 500 soldiers to the war and wasted $8 billion to avoidable peace-keeping operation in Liberia.

Similarly, American forces’ invasion of Afghanistan for harbouring terrorists in 2001 was meant to end in few months. It lasted 20 years with the United States spending more than $2 trillion fighting Taliban endlessly. That is, $300 million dollars per day, every day, for two decades! Or $50,000 for each of Afghanistan’s 40 million people!

And the costs are even greater in terms of lives lost. There have been 2,500 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, and nearly 4,000 more U.S. civilian contractors killed. That pales beside the estimated 69,000 Afghan military police, 47,000 civilians killed, plus 51,000 dead opposition fighters.

Similarly, Russian “special military intervention” in Ukraine early 2022 was meant to last few days. It has dragged for over 500 days with over $100 billion spent by Russia.

The crisis in Niger is also far from straightforward. Following a series of military coups and coups d’état in the region, the Nigerien government was the last Western ally in the French-speaking Sahel, and the reason for wide condemnation of the July 26 coup by pro-democracies.

The implication for the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum, who was only elected to office about two years ago, is therefore far-reaching for the region, Nigeria’s leadership of ECOWAS and her newfound voice in continental politics.

The Sahel has recorded six coups in the last three years. Military-ruled Niger and other ‘rogue nations’ are dislodging footprints of the West based on the support from Russia and China. It is not unlikely that the Wagner mercenaries from Russia may egg on the military head in Niger, General Abdourahamane Tichiani, in the event of military threat from Nigeria.

Similarly, Niger is central to the fight against jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic States in the region. It is also repelling Boko Haram insurgents from Northern Nigeria, which has also kept Nigerian Armed Forces busy and overstretched in the last two decades. A military faceoff between the two neighbours could only mean a set-back to joint efforts in combating insurgency.

Stakeholders feared that such war could spell doom for the country and advised the government to not close its doors on a diplomatic solution to the imbroglio.

Former Director of the Nigerian Secret Police, Dennis Amachree, affirmed that ECOWAS, and indeed Nigeria, cannot afford a proxy way across its border at this time.

“Who will bear the financial burden? How do we handle the humanitarian crisis that will follow? What happens to the MNJTF to fight terrorism. “We should importantly never forget that most of the gatemen and sellers of convenient items at street corners (Aboki) are Nigeriens. There must be an elaborate security plan on how to contain them in case of an outbreak of war.

“Alternatively, the Nigerian Senate can de-escalate the situation by rejecting the deployment of troops to Niger to oust the coupists. This will lower the reputational risk for the ECOWAS chairman.”

International security analyst, Wilson Esangbedo, however, toed a different part. He said Nigeria is currently left with the sole option of going to war!

“It is not about our resources. It is about maintaining world order. If nothing is done to restore democracy in Niger Republic, our democracy may not last because it will mean, we condone coup. It will have a devastating effect on our fledgling democracy.

“The cost of going to war will be negligible given the effect of not going to war, because our democracy will be destroyed. There will be no economic implication if we go to war because the world powers are in support of our actions and they will support this move financially, even if we don’t ask for aid, trust me on this. There are no alternatives to addressing the issues in Niger,” Esangbedo.

The 2021 Economic Value of Peace report shows that the global economic impact of violence is estimated to be $14.4 trillion. In addition to causing suffering, interpersonal violence, social unrest, collective violence hinders productivity and economic activity, destabilises institutions and reduces business confidence. Violence disrupts the economy, resulting in adverse and ongoing negative effects even after conflict subsides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: