Tinubu, chairman of ECOWAS (file photo)
Say Libya is an example of disastrous consequences of military action
‘No individual, national, regional, geo-political or denominational interest or project should take precedence over the preservation of life, human dignity and the well being of the future generation in West Africa and beyond’
By Valentine Amanze
A Catholic group in West Africa, the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA), has appealed to the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to mute the idea of forceful restoration of democracy in the embattled member-state – Niger Republic.
RECOWA, comprising all Catholic Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops in West Africa, also urged the sub-regional body to learn from the Libyan experience in 2011, which it described as a tragic example of the disastrous consequences for people’s lives, dignity and future.
The group expressed its concern in a two-page letter addressed to the President of ECOWAS heads of state and the transitional authorities in Niger on August 7, 2023, advocating for dialogue and reconciliation rather than belligerence and military response.
The letter, signed by the President of RECOWA and Bishop of Agboville, Most Rev. Alexis Touabli Youlo, was sequel to the military coup that toppled the democratically elected government of President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger Republic; and the resolve of the ECOWAS leaders to deploy troops to restore the constitutional regime in the West African nation.
In the two-page letter, RECOWA canvassed pacifism rather belligerence in the management of this crisis, inviting every actor within outside the sub-region to show restraint, discernment and responsibility among other things:
“We, the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops of the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa, after consultations, are deeply concerned by the sub-regional tension linked to the political situation in Niger. Faced with the events currently unfolding in the sub-region, the lives of the people of West Africa are at stake.
“Keeping as our central vision the integrity of the people and emphasising respect for human dignity and a high sense of accountability to mankind, history and God the Creator, we affirm that nothing can justify the creation or facilitation of an environment that is destructive to our people.
“We, your pastors, are convinced, and the history of people teaches us that violence does not solve any problem, not even the one that triggered it. We affirm that any military intervention in Niger at this time would contemplate the situation of the people of Niger and the sub-region more than it would provide solutions.
“Terrorism already has a macabre toll of widows, orphans, displaced persons, the hungry, the maimed and so on. People are not expecting the regional, African and other institutions to add to this toll.”
The group also said that no individual, national, regional, geo-political or denominational interest or project should take precedence over the preservation of life, human dignity and the well being of the future generation in West Africa and beyond.
In retrospect, the clerics also cited the military intervention in Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 2011, describing the military intervention as a tragic example of the disastrous consequences for people’s lives, dignity and future.
Recall that the military junta in Niger Republic led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani has severed diplomatic relationship with Nigeria, which president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, currently chairs the sub-regional group – ECOWAS.