The Evangelist News edition, Sunday August 27, 2023. By Emeka Obasi
Niger as battle ground is sweet music to the ears of President Alassane Dramane Ouattara whose goal is to divert attention from his contentious third term in Cote d’Ivoire and keep war away from his country through neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea respectively.
When Ouattara boldly announced in Nigeria that ECOWAS leaders were battle ready to restore Mohamed Bazoum to power in Niger, he meant every word that came out of his mouth. “We are determined to restore president Bazoum to his functions”, the Ivorian leader said.
ECOWAS chairman, Bola Tinubu, was yet to announce a Foreign Minister when he summoned his colleagues to Abuja. I believe Ouattara exploited that lacuna to hoodwink some of the presidents with the promise that his country would raise a Battalion to support the proposed regional strike force.
What should bother Tinubu is why Ouattara did not call for ECOMOG when the military struck in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea respectively. These countries share common borders with Cote d’Ivoire. Charity, they say, begins at home.
The reason is simple. Burkina Faso means a lot to Ouattara. Many Ivorians are so sure that his parents were Burkinabe. When Ouattara ran into political windstorm, the Ouagadougou Accords made it possible for him to contest the November 2010 presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire.
Ouattara was the presumed winner of the elections but Laurent Gbagbo refused to step aside. The crisis that erupted claimed over 3,000 lives. A transition arrangement that saw Gbagbo as president and Guillaume Soro, guerilla leader of Forces Nouvelles ( New Forces) serving as prime minister restored calm.
Before assuming office as president in 2011, Ouattara was part of the political sore in his country. Brought back home by Father of the Nation, Felix Houphouet Boigny, to shore up the economy, the former began to nurse deeper political ambitions.
Ouattara later rose to the position of prime minister in 1990. In the next three years, he tried to usurp the power of the president. When Boigny died on December 12, 1993, Ouattara told the world, ” Cote d’Ivoire is orphaned.”
Following Boigny’s passage, the Ivorian constitution stipulated that the president of the National Assembly, Henri Konan Bedie, should step in as leader of the country. Ouattara refused to play by the rules and tried to push Bedie out of relevance.
Bedie fought back, using all means, fair and foul, to keep Ouattara out power and the country. The tussle was so fierce that when Gen. Robert Guei led a military coup that sacked Bedie in December 1999, Ouattara described it as, ” not a coup but a revolution supported by all the Ivorian people”.
The same Ouattara that supported Guei’s coup, is planning to wage war against Gen. Abdarahmane Tchiani and the people of Niger Republic. He has already budgeted 150 million United States dollars to fund the war for, at least, three months.
This war monger is out to force Tinubu into an immediate battle in the Northern frontiers of Nigeria while Ivory Coast is looking at military presidents in Mali, Guinea and Burkina respectively. It would also make sense to send ECOWAS troops to these three countries.
Ouattara is being foxy. In March 2020, after spending nine years in power, he vowed not to go for a third term. Four months later, prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, his anointed candidate for the October elections, gave up the ghost. Ouattara used that opportunity to run again.
The Ivorian president rigged himself back into office. His people are fighting to kick the 81 – year – old out power. This is the situation at home and the ECOWAS chairman must be properly guided by incoming Foreign Affairs minister, Yusuf Tuggar.
When Assimi Goita of Mali captured over 46 Ivorian soldiers, branded them mercenaries and planned to execute a few, including women, Ouattara did not send troops to Bamako in 2022. He despatched Defence minister, Tene Ibrahima Ouattara, to the Malian capital to negotiate. For the records, the Ouattaras are siblings.
The man who murdered Thomas Sankara and ruled Burkina Faso with iron fist, Blaise Campaore, is living almost next door to Ouattara in Abidjan. He was chased away from Ouagadougou. The Ivorian president dare not invade Burkina Faso but he has the guts to dare Niger Republic.
Ouattara is smart. Should West Africa burn, he is guaranteed luxury in either the US or France. His first wife, Barbara Jean Davis, was American. The present wife, Dominique Nouvian,
is a French Algerian with Jewish links. She is Roman Catholic while her husband practises Islam.
America will protect Outtara. He was at the University of Pennsylvania, for post graduate courses, after earning a Bachelor’s from the Drexel Institute of Technology, Philadelphia. The Ivorian leader also worked at the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) as Deputy Managing Director.
ECOWAS leaders should ‘shine’ their eyes. In 2019, Ouattara was honoured with the Grand Cross of the National Order of Burkina Faso. He also got the Grand Cross of the National Order of Mali. The man is haranguing West Africa with ‘ let’s take war to Niamey and ignore Bamako and Ouagadougou’.
Tinubu must not fall for Ouattara’s poisoned chalice. Nigerian troops should not be sent to a war that may even consume the country. I predicted Bello Matawalle as Defence minister. He has an award from Niger Republic. His job should keep ECOMOG away.
****@ Saturday Vanguard, Evangelist.com.ng, tweeter @dEvangelistnews.