History Long Reads Opinion

What is happening in Niger?

What is happening in Niger? It is one of the questions that echoes lately in the media and social networks. To answer this question, there are several points about Niger that we must keep in mind:

The Republic of Niger is a country that gained its pseudo-independence (false independence) from France in 1960. It is surrounded by land, is located in West Afrika and its borders are with Algeria, Libya, Chad, Benin, Nigeria, and Mali.

Niger is one of the key countries in terms of natural resources (like the rest of the Afrikan countries). In this case, it has one of the keys to nuclear energy: uranium. This country is one of the largest uranium producers in the world. This radioactive metal is the most widely used fuel for nuclear power. It is also used in the treatment of cancer, for naval propulsion, and in nuclear weapons. Paradoxically, this metal is exported to France, a country where Niger and NGOs say one in three light bulbs is lit by it (a French parliamentary committee report in 2008 put the figure at one in five). French companies such as Orano (formerly known as Areva and 90% owned by the French state) own at least three large uranium mines in Niger (only one of which is currently in production) where their workers are doomed to precariousness, and many of them suffer physical consequences due to high radioactive exposure and lack of protection (causing them highly disabling diseases, cancers, etc.). In addition, 80% of Niger’s population does not have access to stable light. The country is forced to import electricity from its neighbor Nigeria in order to supply the population. Ridiculous, right?

Niger also plays a crucial role in externalizing the borders of the European Union. This is a mechanism that the European Union uses to delegate border management to underdeveloped South countries (normally bordering with European nations), with the aim of “stopping migration,” or rather, murdering people at the border and preventing them from exercising their right to migrate (as stipulated in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, those rights that Europe champion but do not comply with), without staining their hands. This externalization of borders is shifting more and more to the south.

“This externalization of borders is shifting more and more to the south”

Niger, being a strip of the Sahel, surrounded by land, is one of the countries through which many Black-Afrikan migrants pass on the route to access Europe. This is one of the main reasons why there are Spanish and French troops in Niger. France says that it is to fight against “jihadist terrorism in the Sahel.” Around 1,500 troops have been there for years, but to this day, there has been absolutely no change. Surprise? Even the interim Prime Minister of Mali (a country that is also located in the Sahel region) Abdoulaye Maïga, at the United Nations General Assembly in 2022, demanded an emergency meeting with the United Nations Security Council to denounce the crimes committed by the French army in Mali (who were going there to fight so much against terrorism), and also to denounce that the armed terrorist groups in Mali received confidential information and weapons from France. All of this is supported by evidence.

The following points are important to understand what has been happening in Niger.

On July 26 a military uprising with Captain Tchiani in command took place with the aim of removing the president of Niger, Bazoum. He allowed Western extractivism which the military uprising opposes together with all forms of neocolonialism. Many Western political figures say that “this ‘coup’ is to be condemned because a ‘democratically elected’ president has been ousted”. But let’s face it: Afrikan presidents have rarely been democratically elected. Afrikan countries are regions cut with a set square and triangle in the Berlin conference of 1884-1885. They were regions administered by the colonial powers, the independences have been false freedom contracts to continue satisfying their interests while they pretend to be innocent. For this reason, it is no coincidence that all presidential candidates and presidents who have truly wanted Pan-Afrikan justice to restore dignity to their peoples, and get rid of neocolonial clutches have been assassinated, “mysteriously” died, or were imprisoned for one reason or another. This is the case of Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), Patrice Lumumba (Democratic Republic of Congo), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso whose current successor Ibrahim Traore gives off major Sankara vibes), and so on.

Macron (current president of France) — who recently ordered the withdrawal of the last French anti-terrorist troops deployed in neighboring Mali — withdrew economic aid (120 million euros, for 25 million inhabitants, 45% below the poverty line). Bearing in mind that, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund, 10% of Niger’s Gross Domestic Product comes from external “humanitarian” aid, the real purposes of such aid are becoming increasingly clearer: to submerge the Afrikan states into economic dependencies in order to satisfy Western interests through (economic) reward or punishment. That is the reason why it extends so long in time (despite the fact that aid is ideally temporary and punctual to help recover an economy, for example). Afrikan aid, on the other hand, is eternal. In this way, they also impoverish the population: who is going to take care of creating employment if money already comes from outside and also all the companies are foreign?

Ibrahim Traore is the current president of Burkina Faso, the youngest president in Afrika and gives major Thomas Sankara vibes, his predecessor

The United States also joined the threat to withdraw humanitarian aid. Given this, Niger responded that their aid should be saved and given to the millions of homeless people in the US, “Charity begins at home,” captain Tchiani said. These statements set off Western alarms, not only because the military uprising is serious, but because this uprising is supported by a larger popular unrest motivated by the fatigue of living in poverty while they are rich countries.

The ECOWAS (Economic Community of West Afrikan States), an economic organization created in 1975 to unify the Western Afrikan economy, and “maintain peace” in the region, always supporting the interests of the Western powers, issued a statement threatening to carry out military intervention in Niger if the ousted president, Bazoum, was not re-instated. This statement was supported by Europe and the United States. Previously, ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea (Conakry) for similar reasons (anti-colonial military rebellions). The current president of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinibu, (who, by the way, has not been democratically elected), takes over the current presidency of ECOWAS. He condemned the “coup” and decided to impose sanctions on Niger. One of them was to cut off the energy supply to the country. According to a report by Nigelec, the country’s sole supplier, in 2022, 70% of Niger’s electricity share came from purchases from the Nigerian company Mainstream.

Electricity is produced at the Kainji Dam (western Nigeria). Nigerian civil society is very unhappy with this decision, mainly in the north of Nigeria which shares the border with Niger. The repercussions of the confrontation between states will fall on the northern Nigerian population first if a military intervention is pursued, and because many people agree with the decision that states like Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali made to break free from colonial dependency once and for all. Once again, the decisions that concern the people are made by Western puppets who will not care if they are implemented because the consequences will not touch them.

The colonial strategy of divide and rule is operating. Once again the Western world orders Afrikans to kill each other by instrumentalizing political figures and legitimate organizations in Afrika. Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, we know this situation. But here’s the good news: In the face of all change comes resistance, and the Afrikan populations are awake, they want that change. France is realizing that its power is fading and that, more and more rapidly, it is losing its status as a colonial superpower and becoming a small province of the world.

 “France is realizing that its power is fading and that, more and more rapidly, it is losing its status as a colonial superpower and becoming a small province of the world”

The ECOWAS countries that support the military intervention are Nigeria, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. The countries that to date have not spoken are Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, and Gambia.

As it happens with the Nigerian population, a large part of the Senegalese population does not agree with the decision of its president Macky Sall to support Western interventionism against Niger. Precisely because Senegal is also experiencing a socio-political crisis, in which young people are asking for an end to Western extractavism which causes many young people to not have job opportunities and have to risk their lives mostly at sea, in order to migrate to Europe. They are asking for the release of Ousmane Sonko, who is a Pan-Afrikanist presidential candidate, with the desire to change things in the country and to look after the interests of Senegalese citizens and not French ones, once and for all. He has been unjustly imprisoned. He belongs to a political formation (PASTEF) that has been dissolved by President Sall, and several of its members have been jailed for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression. Macky Sall also cut off the internet and banned the TikTok social network in Senegal. Thousands of young people have been flooding the streets of Dakar (the capital of Senegal) to demand justice, that Sonko be released, and that Sall comply with the Senegalese constitution: Macky Sall, in theory, and by law, cannot run for a third term, but everything indicates, according to his statements, that he is going to break the law to remain in power. Faced with this situation, we have not seen Macron or any other Western political figure condemn this lack of democracy. Not half a word. This is an example of how the majority of Afrikan rulers were imposed to satisfy colonial interests.

In recent weeks, Nigerien students have demonstrated in support of the military that has taken over the country. They said that the interests of Europe and the USA are not worth more than their lives, are not worth more than their sovereignty, and much less are they worth more than their freedom.

“The colonial and condescending thinking of France and the rest of the Western world states has to end”

Niger suspended the French media (France 24 and RFI) from being broadcast nationally. It also closed air borders, a measure that France allegedly did not respect. This was denounced by Amadou Abdramane, a Nigerien soldier in a press conference: “A French combat plane violated the airspace of Niger, despite the decision to close the air borders, and attacked our National Guard. In addition, the French forces released several terrorists who were serving prison sentences in Niger.” Before the expulsion order of the French ambassador from Niger, Macron replied that they would not leave the territory since they do not consider that the orders have been given from a legitimate figure. Macron talks as if Niger were “his.” The colonial and condescending thinking of France and the rest of the Western world states — who think that the Afrikan states are theirs and the populations are below their word — has to end.

Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, the Senegalese people, Niger. And now Gabon: a country witnessing a military uprising after 53 years of the Bongo family mandate. A country where oil accounts for 80% of the country’s exports, but, paradoxically, a third of the Gabon people live on less than two dollars a day. However, we look at this case with a critical magnifying glass because Oligui Nguema is Ali Bongo’s cousin, and this may be a strategy to maintain power in the family. Only pan-Afrikanist coups d’état symbolize liberation.

But even so, the French empire is declining, and what is happening in Niger is nothing more than the follow-up to an anti-colonial revolution that began decades ago. Now it is France, but without a doubt, it will be consecutively all the imperialist and enslaving kingdoms and states. Colonial kingdoms that still benefit from enslavement and that shamelessly steal resources from the Afrikan continent.

The fight for emancipation is taking its course, and it arrives with a young, voluminous, and pan-Afrikanist flow. Because, as Thomas Sankara said, you can kill or lock up people, but you can’t lock up ideas. And mental emancipation is the biggest battle of all: a battle that is being won by the people who are fighting for their dignity, for their future, for a truly valued and united mother Afrika.


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