*Warn against war in Niger
*Expressed fears over safety of women, children if war option scales through
By; BILQIS ONAOLAPO OLAJUMOKE, Ilorin
To prevent future military coup in the West African sub region, an umbrella body, Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations (FOMWAN) has advised those at helm of affairs in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to set an agenda of promoting transparency, accountability and
good governance in the region.
This was contained in a statement made available to our correspondent in Ilorin yesterday, jointly signed by FOMWAN National Amirah, Sanni Rafiah Idowu (Mrs) and National PRO, Hon Maimuna Momodu.
“It is also timely that ECOWAS has an agenda for its member-countries to deliver on their development mandates by promoting transparency, accountability and
good governance in the region,” the statement said.
According to the group, the agenda is the viable route to sustaining democracy and preventing further
“This is how to add value to the lives of people and drive sustainable development. We reiterate the
use of more diplomatic approach that stands to yield better result,” FOMWAN added.
According to the statement titled, “NIGER COUP: ECOWAS: WHAT IS THE VALUE ADDITION’’ the group said, “in the wake of the recent coup d’etat in Niger Republic and the subsequent sanctions imposed Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) including threats of a military intervention, Muslim women in Nigeria call for restraint.
“Strongly united under the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria
(FOMWAN) we implore that ECOWAS critically looks at the bigger picture with a view to determine what value her actions will add to the region generally politically and economically.
ECOWAS must realize that border closure and electricity cuts adversely affect livelihoods by deepening poverty among ordinary citizens of Niger Republic, a country that ranks seventh in global poverty,” they pointed out.
The group emphasized that sanctions will also affect the economies of the neighbouring countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Benin Republic, and Nigeria).
They added that, “seven Northern states in Nigeria that share borders with Niger Republic (Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe, and Borno) are already dislocated either by the ravages of Boko haram, banditry or kidnappings to be further denied livelihoods arising from sanctions.
“FOMWAN calls for the removal of the sanctions to reduce the sufferings of the people. Sanctions at this stage definitely have no value-addition”.
FOMWAN said that it is concerned that women and children are most likely to bear the brunt of the political actions of
the ECOWAS states.
“Eleven point two (11.2million) people are already displaced in West and Central w1African Republic (2022, reporting.unhcr.org), women and girls are 6.7million while children are 1.7million,” it said.
The group insisted that ECOWAS needs to arrest this trend as a regional body because it affects the education of children and exposes women and girls to sexual exploitation and other forms of violence.
“Promoting more displacements of citizens within the West African sub-region is definitely a major setback for our development stride.
Military intervention should not be an option for ECOWAS, rather we advocate for dialogue.
“This is because the vagaries of wars and social unrests create unpredictable situations whose direction and end we may
not know. ECOWAS needs to be careful not to pitch her forces against superior gang-up of other forces who are resolved to support Niger in the event of a military intervention.
“It is also pertinent at this juncture for ECOWAS to interrogate the recurrence of military coups in West Africa, with the apparent overwhelming support of the populace.
“To entrench democracy in the sub-region, ECOWAS countries must be seen to walk the talk by making democracy the attractive option for ordinary people, a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” FOMWAN stressed.
In the light of this bigger picture therefore, FOMWAN said it expects ECOWAS to jettison all coercive strategies with the Niger junta.
“Instead, it must work with the internal stakeholders in Niger Republic to draw up a timetable of a return to democracy in that country,” it argued.