Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), have stated that Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are the greatest losers following the decision of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso to withdraw from the regional union.
They said that these countries did not see any value or the need to remain in ECOWAS, adding that ECOWAS and the Nigerian government have overplayed the crisis but are now the losers sadly.
The CSOs, speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, noted that the poor handling of the leadership crisis in these countries has particularly affected Nigeria.
They noted that these countries no longer see value in remaining in ECOWAS and that both ECOWAS and the Nigerian government have sadly overplayed the crisis.
Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, three Sahel nations have made a significant announcement, withdrawing from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In a joint statement released on Sunday, the leaders of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso stated that their decision to leave ECOWAS is a “sovereign decision” and will be implemented promptly.
This move comes as no surprise, considering the strained relations between these countries and ECOWAS following the series of coups that occurred in the region.
Last July, Niger experienced a coup, followed by Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020.
In response to the coups, ECOWAS suspended all three countries, imposing heavy sanctions on Niger and Mali.
But CSOs have said that what the three countries did is the best response to ECOWAS and Nigeria who don’t seem to understand it was time to engage the military junta productively.
“The citizens are in support of the kind of leadership they have and you don’t just start bombing them,” the CSOs said through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani said: “I think Nigeria is the greatest loser because Nigeria needs the support of these West African countries for its regional leadership.
“Nigeria failed to create a better way forward. You don’t have to be strict on an issue, you have no legal or constitutional binding power to push these leaders out.”
He added: “All you have done is to push for the return of the civilian regime in these countries as soon as possible.
“Now that these countries have walked out of ECOWAS, it is Nigeria who largely will lose because we need Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso at both regional and international levels to support Nigeria in its quest for a leadership position in the Security Council.”
According to Rafsanjani, Nigeria needs the support of these countries.
“Nigeria needs the support of its neighbours who are supposed to give them the kind of support needed for a seat at the security council. If you are in this kind of relationship with them, then definitely you are losing.
“So, these countries have found out that they don’t need ECOWAS to survive. They have been out of ECOWAS for several months and life goes on.
“Their condition has not worsened without ECOWAS so they can as well get out of that union, that marriage of inconvenience because ECOWAS has not helped them in times of dealing with poverty, insecurity and infrastructure deficit.
“So, they did not see any value or the need to remain in ECOWAS. ECOWAS and the Nigerian government have overplayed this and they are now the losers sadly,” the CSOs added.