President Bola Tinubu is seeking support for the return of democracy to the troubled Niger Republic.
Specifically, the military had seized power in the West African nation some months ago and is yet to bow to pressures from within and outside the continent to return power to democratically elected government.
While regional leaders including Tinubu have been working for a return to democracy, the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and former Lagos State governor wants more partners in doing so.
The condemnation is coming on the heels of revelation by the World Bank that the coup in Niger will likely mount additional pressure on the region’s food markets.
The Bretton Woods Institute disclosed this in its September Food Security update and the bank’s response to the challenges.
The report noted that about 7 million people stand the risk of falling into food insecurity over the coup in Niger and the subsequent sanctions by ECOWAS.
“The coup d’état in Niger might put additional pressure on West African food markets. Against a backdrop of soaring commodity and staple food prices and severe food insecurity affecting 3.3 million people during the lean season, the Nigerien coup d’état puts an additional 7 million people at risk of falling into severe food insecurity.”
“As a response to the coup, the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union have imposed a series of economic and financial sanctions on the country, with implications for the food security of Niger’s population.”
Increase in food insecure people in the region
It noted that in West Africa, the population of people in need of food assistance has risen from 10.7 million in 2019 to almost 40 million in 2022. It attributed the causes of the region’s food insecurity to “civil insecurity and conflict, which have led to forced displacement; climatic shocks; political instability; the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic; and the war in Ukraine.”
The bank projected that food prices including major staple foods will see an increase in the near term on the back of this geopolitical and economic malaise.
“Current food prices of the main staple and imported food products remain higher than during the same period last year.”
World Bank’s response
The bank noted it already has a couple of interventions aimed at boosting food systems in the region. It said,
“The $766 million West Africa Food Systems Resilience Program is working to increase preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of food systems in West Africa.”
“The program is increasing digital advisory services for agriculture and food crisis prevention and management, boosting adaption capacity of agriculture system actors, and investing in regional food market integration and trade to increase food security.”
It also noted there is an extra $345 million under preparation for Togo and Sierra-Leone.
But President Tinubu told the UN General Assembly in New York that: “Regarding Niger, we are negotiating with the military leaders. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I seek to help re-establish democratic governance in a manner that addresses the political and economic challenges confronting that nation, including the violent extremists who seek to foment instability in our region.
“I extend a hand of friendship to all who genuinely support this mission.”
In his Tuesday speech, he reaffirmed that democracy is the best way to guarantee a better society.
Tinubu said “we must affirm democratic governance as the best guarantor of the sovereign will and well-being of the people. Military coups are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice”.
“The wave crossing parts of Africa does not demonstrate favour towards coups. It is a demand for solutions to perennial problems.”