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“Don’t be afraid to standout from the crowd.”

ECOWAS response to coups d’etat as a means of unconstitutional change

The Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) did define clearly, its grounds for intervention, ‘establishing that it would respond to humanitarian disasters, threat to peace and security for the sub-region, and disorder occurring after threats to a democratically elected government’. These positions are rooted in the October 1999, framework for peace operations, the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security. The main organ supporting its peace and security responsibilities are the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) and the Executive Secretariat, now the Commission. The MSC is composed of the Heads of State and/or the Foreign Ministers from ECOWAS member states.

The MSC has several supporting mechanisms in the form of committees – the Defense and Security Commission (DSC), the Council of Elders and the ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). It is necessary to reflect more on the role of ECOMOG, as ECOWAS is being questioned on the authenticity of the Standby Force and its legality. It will be recalled that in 2004, ECOWAS announced its decision to create rapidly deployable standby capacity through ECOMOG. The Protocol identifies ECOMOG as its military component, to be based on a standby arrangement involving the use of national contingents. These contingents are expected to be earmarked, train and equipped in advance of deployment and prepared for such deployment at short notice.

To this end, the Defense and Security Commission approved the concept of a 6,500 strong force with three parts. 1,500 rapidly deployable troops, followed by a brigade of 3,500 troops for more prolonged missions and 1,500 troops in reserve.

Deployment is also subjected to operational requirements and procedures of the force and an evaluation of equipment and logistics capabilities of member states through such exercises as the Contingent Owned Equipment (COE) evaluation. However, there is a challenge here, that the infrastructure needed for logistic depots in the sub-region is in Mali, which is on the other side of the divide, as the latter is in support of the putschists.

In other words, the ECOWAS Standby Force is in place and the size has since been doubled to 12,500 troops and can be activated within the rules of subsidiarity which it requires the authorization of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, in accordance with Art 53 of the UN Charter. In this regard, it should be noted that to activate the Standby Force, a minimum of 6 weeks is needed for it to be effectively deploy. Therefore, the Communique issued at the 2nd ECOWAS Summit of 10 August 2023 did not contradict itself, as efforts, will be on, at different tracks – diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions, to ensure that, eventually, the stage of final deployment is avoided. We should also realize that such negotiations can sometimes be painfully slow. It may equally be pertinent, to point out, that according to Ademola Abbas (‘Consent Precluding State Responsibility: A critical Analysis (2004), ‘the Member States of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) gave their consent to the organization taking enforcement action on their territories by ratifying a protocol. Thus, since all members of ECOWAS have consented, taking enforcement action on their territories, such enforcement actions arguably do not breach international law’. In effect, collective security, in this respect, even allows member states’ action to intervene through a standby force arrangement, without recourse to their parliament, to undertake such action, although this may be controversial.

It should also be necessary to point to the effectiveness of economic sanctions, including the no-fly zone measure. It must be said that a no-fly zone measure is not a humanitarian measure, as it was claimed against the Libyan regime. Thus, it does not require the degrading of Niger’s air assets. The measure in this instance is to put economic pressure on the regime and not to destroy assets. In fact, the regime also aided, inadvertently, ECOWAS position by imposing a no-fly zone in the territory.

Overall, it is expected that this and other sanctions will bite the regime into submission.

In practical terms, what does military intervention mean, within the concept of the standby force arrangement. In its execution, there are 6 Scenarios, and the last scenario is military intervention by way of the Standby Force arrangement. The six scenarios are the following –

  • Provision of advice to a political
  • Observer mission co-deployed with AU/UN mission
  • Stand-alone Observer mission
  • Peacekeeping force for Chapter VI and preventive deployment
  • Peacekeeping force for complex multi-dimensional peace keeping mission with low-level
  • ECOMOG Intervention (Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes through Coup d’Etat)

However, following the December 2022 pronouncement of ECOWAS, which signifies its absolute anathema to coup d’etat and which considers coups in whatever form, as a threat to collective security. Intervention here is simply put, denotes the use of overwhelming force. ‘Collective security measures are actions or authorized by the UN Security Council, on behalf of the international community, to enforce

international law’. Therefore, on the part of ECOWAS, it is on the right course, in its quest of intervening in Niger Republic. Before intervening, all it must do, request the authorization of the AU Peace and Security Council, which automatically requests the approval of UN Security Council.

A question to be asked is, is military intervention the first option to be presented to the putschists. Given the near penchant of coup making in the neighborhood, it was deemed necessary to come out, heavy handed, in ensuring that no one defiles the will of the organization, in terms, of the maintenance of democratic practice. If there is need for change, then it will have to wait for another round of elections. This was affirmed in the December 2022 pronouncement through a communiqué.

Nonetheless, majority of West Africans, including Nigerians question the sanctimonious attitude of ECOWAS, to coup making as anathema while condoning other forms of Unconstitutional Change of Governments, within the neighborhood. They asked, where was collective security, when the situation in Guinea was brewing; when Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire changed the constitution; what was the reaction of the organization to the attempt by the President of Senegal to extend his tenure; as well as the lackluster nature of the previous regimes in Mali and Bukina Faso, when they were obviously going against constitutional provisions. These are pertinent questions for ECOWAS to answer for them to be credible in front of their citizens, in its attempt at intervention.

Arising from the regime change in Niger Republic, one may want to ask, what are the likely factors that instigated the change. Here, I will mention three possible factors that come to the fore, among many others. The first, is the attempt to eradicate the vestiges of French colonialism in Niger. The lingering French domination through a series of unequal treaties between France and Niger and indeed many French West African countries leaves much to be desired. However, I do not in my honest opinion, agree to this factor of eradicating the vestiges of French colonialism. Because, if that is the case, why would they, in all honesty, think of replacing that with the Wagner

Group and even Russia. There is evidence of Wagner complicity in the pillaging of Sudan’s resources, to the detriment of the Sudanese people. Furthermore, the Wagner Group is likely to replace the French in the exploration of Uranium, given the non-state party access to such strategic material thereby contributing to fragile global security by way aiding the development of dirty nuclear arsenal.

The second point and which is of vital importance is the three-prong burner that is fueling conflict on the African continent. These are power contestation, identity management, and equitable distribution of proceeds of (natural) resources. In contemporary Niger, Bazoum and former President Issoufou are in a power struggle. Bazoum wants to show himself as being in control of affairs while Issoufou wanted to be the power behind the throne and attempt to direct things, sometimes openly. It should also be noted that Issoufou comes from the majority Hausa tribe, which constituted about 60% of the population and Bazoum comes from the Shuwa Arab tribe which is about 2% of the entire population, leading to the accusation that Bazoum comes from Libya. Again, the Presidential Guard headed by Tchiani (who planned and executed the coup), remained largely intact from the days of Issoufou. Most of them were Issoufou loyalists and belong to the Hausa and the Zamba tribes which constitute 20% of the population. Through a combination of policies, Bazoum tried to upset the apple carte by attempting to change the headship of the presidential guards as well as re-organized certain interests in the energy sector, mainly the oil sector and uranium exploration. This is a sector of the economy that Issoufou has a lot of interest in. From the foregoing, all the three are complete here. Power contestation between Bazoum and Issoufou; the fact of Bazoum belonging to a minority tribe and inappropriate management of identity and the need for equitable distribution of proceeds of natural resources – continued control by Issoufou, even being out of power.

Thirdly, it is necessary to interrogate and examine ECOWAS decision to come against the coup in Niger Republic. The kernel of ECOWAS position is aimed at ‘countering terrorism across West Africa and in particular, the Sahel, which still remains an ungovernable space and reinstating democratic governance following military coup d’etat’. These two threats were perceived as rather germane to the continued insecurity of West Africa. These seem to crystallize the sub-regional thinking of what constitutes the elements of regional security. To this end, in classical international engagements, states form an ‘alliance for the purpose of using force to resist external aggression (exogeneous phenomenon) on any of its members’, in this case exogenous to democratic order in Niger and therefore, breaching the peace of both Niger and that of the neighborhood. Therefore, the use of the standby force arrangement is directed against those who breach the peace, ‘and when you enforce an action against someone, you do not need their permission to do so’.

In my humble opinion, I wish to advise that ECOWAS should focus on both diplomatic negotiations and maintain economic sanctions as a means of convincing the putschists to negotiate a way back to status quo ante, while holding the deployment of the standby force as a final card which can be dealt. This, nonetheless, does not detract from ECOWAS abhorrence of military coups and terrorism in its neighborhood. It would ultimately allow for the development of an appropriate Concept of Operations (CONOPS) to fit the demands of a Niger operation if required.

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Tinubu endorses initiative reuniting Afro-descendants with their African roots

In a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Tinubu said the programme will not only re-awaken the historical awareness of society but also create economic benefits.

“Reconnecting Afro-Brazilians with their African roots will be an iconic project that will rekindle our past and light up the spirit of our ancestors,” the president was quoted as saying.

“It will re-awaken memories of what happened many years ago.

“And it is a good thing that this is coming now at a time when we are working on expanding the frontiers of freedom and democracy in Africa.”

Speaking at the State House on Friday, Wale Adeniran, who led the delegation, described the project as identical to the Lagos Black Heritage Festival.

Adeniran also said the initiative will begin in Brazil and go through other African countries before terminating in Nigeria.

He added that the initiators of ‘Heritage Voyage of Return’ sought the support of Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and the president.

Carolina Maira Morais, another member of the delegation, said with about 126 million Afro-descendants in Brazil, “the project will integrate the two countries”.

She also disclosed that President Lula da Silva of Brazil is planning to visit Nigeria.

“Nigeria, the largest black population and the leading economy in Africa, and Brazil, a giant of South America,” she said.

“There are many African traditional families in Brazil. But no African country has gone to Brazil to identify and connect with them.”

Other delegates at the meeting included Soyinka and Ajoyemi Olabisi Osunleye, a culture activist.




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Foreign minister under fire for ‘downplaying’ diplomats’ expulsion

Political and human rights activist, Pa Samba Jow, has advised Foreign Minister Mamadou Tangara to resign over the visa scandal involving some Gambian diplomats in Washington DC, United States.

Few weeks ago, four top diplomats at the Gambian embassy in Washington were expelled from the United States for different offences, including visa fraud.

Reacting to the development in a press conference on Monday, Minister Tangara said it is rather unfortunate, but is nothing very serious in a Gambian context.

But according to Pa Samba Jaw, the minister should have resigned.

“This is what is expected of officials under whose purview such scandal happens, but again, we are talking about The Gambia where impunity runs rampant. The Gambia cannot come out of this looking great, because this is an embarrassing stain on our diplomats, especially those in the US and the embassy. I don’t think any serious country would downplay its diplomats being accused of engaging in criminal activities,” he said.

He said the country mustn’t continue to condone and excuse behaviours that are inimical to its collective well-being.

“If anything, this scandal should serve as a reminder that we cannot continue to relegate our diplomatic services to a dumping ground for political friends.”

“I was really taken aback by the minister’s suggestion that though serious; it wasn’t a very serious matter. First, what is alleged against the expelled diplomats is at least criminal and the height of corruption and dereliction of duty. These diplomats weren’t accused of traffic violations, they were accused of visa fraud. If that is not too serious, I don’t know what is.”

Pa Samba said diplomats have a unique responsibility to represent the very best image of their people and country, therefore whatever they do must represent the very best of “our country”.

“The Minister’s analogy is akin to suggesting that if a family member asks you to dip into the nation’s coffers to help them, that may be serious but not too serious, because if you don’t help them, they may consider you wicked. The Gambia must raise our standards especially when it comes to values and ethics,” he said.

Health minister

Commenting on the dismissal of some officials over the AKI deaths, Jaw said: “The decision by the Ministry of Health to fire officials due to the AKI incident is a welcomed move, but I hope that wasn’t done to placate the people, especially coming on the heels of the victims taking legal action against the government. I believe that there is more to this issue than the actions of these fired officials. Our healthcare system is chronically deficient – from management to service delivery, hence these avoidable deaths.”


Als commenting on the issue of the diplomats and the health ministry, UDP firebrand campaign manager, Momodou Sabally, said: “Well I am not surprised because I have said in several interviews before that when it comes to proper professional conduct and morality, this government has brought us to a new low. Moreover, I did also say at the advent of this saga that not much will come out of this matter because more senior officials at the foreign office are guilty of similar misconduct.”

He said the implications of the diplomats’ visa fraud will be “pervasively damaging”.

“It is one thing for junior embassy staff to break the rules of a major global power like the USA; but for a Foreign Minister to come out in public to try to downplay it, that is simply adding injury to insult and am sure the US and other diplomatic missions in The Gambia will take note of this. The moral hazard is just too huge when a foreign minister says it is okay for his diplomats posted abroad to be engaged in visa fraud. This one will damage whatever shred of credibility The Gambia is left with in the international community,” he argued.

About the AkI report, Sabally said: “I am not surprised because President Barrow has always stood up to defend the health minister and other top brass of the ministry whenever mishaps happen under their watch. At the very advent of this AKI crisis, President Barrow’s first statement included a declaration of confidence in the health minister and he even commended them for a great job despite the loss of dozens of babies due to negligence.

“The dismissal of the MCA CEO is just a reflection of the Dr Banja situation in which case, an equally culpable minister was retained and his deputy sacrificed. This is now an established trend confirming my longstanding characterisation of this administration as ‘Animal Farm’: all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” Sabally said.

He said the minister’s resignation is long overdue. “From his mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and the related funds for which his ministry was indicted by an audit report, to the rampant maternal mortality cases, Samateh should have resigned a long time ago. Since he does not have that moral decency to resign, he should be fired. Senegal’s health minister was recently fired for a lesser offense of babies’ deaths due to a fire outbreak at a health facility,” Sabally concluded.


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May this fresh chapter of the year bring you joy, success, and new opportunities. May your days be filled with laughter, love, and beautiful moments. Embrace the possibilities ahead and make this month extraordinary. Wishing you a month filled with happiness and blessings. Happy New Month!

Happy Eid Mubarak to friends and family

Afrinity News Flash

Earlier today, He interfaced with the Editorial Board of Thisday Newspaper. They had an opportunity to interrogate various topical national interest issues. He shared my governance perspectives and the fundamentals of our manifesto and mission mandate.


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