The Nigeria Labour Congress, or NLC, said yesterday that using armed force to get rid of the military junta in the Niger Republic would have more negative effects than positive ones.
It also told the heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to listen to the wise advice of others before making hasty choices that would hurt member states.
Labour also told the leaders of ECOWAS that they shouldn’t let forces from outside the area or the African continent use them.
In a statement bearing the President’s signature, the NLC recalled that on Thursday, August 10, 2023, at the conclusion of the second extraordinary summit of the Authority of ECOWAS (Committee of Heads of State/Governments), it issued a succinct statement “directing the Committee of Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all of its elements immediately;”
The statement said, “Saying that the Nigeria Labour Congress is against the military government would be stating the obvious. In fact, you can’t tell the whole story of Nigeria’s fight for democracy without talking about the important role of the labor movement.
“Even though we have a strong track record of fighting against military rule, we would highly advise against using military force to get rid of the military junta in the Niger Republic. The costs would be much higher than the benefits.
“The downsides include putting the lives of deposed President Bazoum and his family in danger, making the whole area, including Northern Nigeria, less stable, and causing a lot of deaths on and off the battlefield.
“It’s also important that Niger might become a good place for proxy wars, even if that wasn’t the plan. Even after the war is over, the area needs to be ready for more acts of terrorism or rebellion. This could also mean the end of ECOWAS as we know it since ten members will be facing five.
“There are a lot of people who think that the ECOWAS leadership is trying to pull the nut out of the fire for and on behalf of someone else or people. We don’t know if these claims are true, but ECOWAS must act in a way that makes its people and the rest of the world think it has a mind of its own.
“In addition to this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress have reason to think that ECOWAS is in part a victim of its double standards or discriminatory policies, as it was sometimes seen as supporting and even celebrating coups in the case of the Niger Republic.
“We both agree that ECOWAS didn’t try every possible way to talk things out before sounding the war horns. People didn’t put much thought into the trips to Niamey.
“One of the effects of turning the Niger Republic’s power into a weapon is that the Niger Republic has the right to take proportional responsibility by damming the Niger River, which will have effects on our echo system that we can’t even imagine.
“Besides all of this, the time has come to ask ourselves if we have the money to keep fighting this war. Even the most experienced Generals agree that we can often tell how wars start but rarely how they end.
“As we said at the start of this message, we support democracy and will do everything we can to help it grow and stay strong.
“However, what will keep democracy alive in our countries is not the threat or use of military force against sovereign nations, but sticking to democracy’s core ideals and rules.
“Our Presidents and other government leaders need to do what needs to be done. Because of these things, we say “No to War!” along with other organizations and recognized voices.