The Niger Coup – A Regional Wake-up Call for Sustainable Stability

The Niger Coup – A Regional Wake-up Call for Sustainable Stability

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In the wake of the coup in Niger, West Africa finds itself at a crossroads, facing a critical juncture that demands introspection and immediate action. The events in Niger should not be dismissed as an isolated incident; rather, they serve as a clarion call for the entire region to address the root causes of political instability and prevent its contagious spread. To achieve lasting peace and prosperity, it is imperative that we tackle the underlying issues plaguing the region, with corruption, youth unemployment, and governance disconnect being the prime suspects.

Corruption has gnawed at the very foundations of West African nations, eroding public trust in government institutions, and widening the rift between leaders and citizens. It’s like a parasite siphoning off funds intended for vital development projects and social welfare, leaving behind a trail of despair and disillusionment.

Take, for example, the issue of insecurity in Niger. Despite significant resources allocated to combat the growing menace of armed groups and insurgency, corruption has hindered progress and undermined the effectiveness of security forces. This dire situation not only fuels grievances but also weakens the nation’s ability to tackle security threats effectively, leaving communities vulnerable to violence and unrest.

The demographic dividend that could propel West Africa forward is becoming a double-edged sword. With over 60% of the population under 25 years old, the region boasts immense potential. However, soaring youth unemployment rates have shattered dreams and created a generation filled with frustration and anger.

Look no further than Ghana, where an increasing number of educated and skilled graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed. Without viable opportunities, these young minds can easily become susceptible to extremist ideologies or find themselves drawn to the allure of coups as a means of venting their grievances and seeking change.

A yawning gap between the political class and the masses has become a recurring theme in West African politics. Elected leaders, once seen as beacons of hope, now seem detached from the realities faced by everyday citizens. Failure to address pressing issues and heed the voice of the people has eroded public confidence in governance.

Consider Niger’s coup – a symptom of a larger problem. The detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and the suspension of democratic institutions can be seen as desperate cries for a government that listens and genuinely works for its people.

To avert a regional pandemic of coups and ensure a stable, prosperous future, West Africa must adopt a multi-pronged approach that strikes at the root causes:

ECOWAS must rise to the challenge and adopt innovative approaches to address the root causes of coups and safeguard the democratic progress made thus far. ECOWAS must reevaluate its current strategies and adopt a proactive approach to curb the menace of coups.

ECOWAS should prioritise two main strategies. It should invest in strengthening its preventive diplomacy and early warning systems. This involves identifying potential triggers for instability early on and engaging in diplomatic interventions to nip coup attempts in the bud before they escalate. ECOWAS can take proactive measures to prevent coup-related crises by detecting and addressing potential threats swiftly.

 Also, ECOWAS should adopt a more assertive role as a mediator in conflicts within member states. Timely and skillful mediation efforts can defuse tensions and foster dialogue between conflicting parties, reducing the likelihood of resorting to unconstitutional means of power transfer.

Furthermore, in response to coups, ECOWAS must demonstrate its unity and resolve by imposing targeted sanctions and diplomatic pressure on coup leaders and their allies. At the same time, the regional bloc should focus on building the capacity of democratic institutions within member states, providing technical assistance and support to fortify governance structures.

In addition, promoting inclusive dialogue and national reconciliation is crucial to address underlying grievances that fuel coups, and ECOWAS can facilitate and support such initiatives to ensure diverse voices are heard and incorporated into governance processes.

Moreover, ECOWAS member states should assert their sovereignty and resist any attempts at external manipulation of their political affairs. The region can reduce external actors’ capacity to meddle in domestic politics by maintaining strong, unified stances against interference. While challenging external interference, ECOWAS must also seek collaborative partnerships with countries and organisations outside the region that support the principles of democracy and stability. Engaging with international partners based on shared values and mutual respect can strengthen West Africa’s position and leverage in the global arena.

 Also, Community citizens should put pressure on governments to institute stringent anti-corruption measures and holding those responsible accountable will restore faith in governance. Countries like Botswana serve as exemplars, where robust anti-corruption policies have fostered political stability and strong economic growth.

Member countries should Invest in education, vocational training, and entrepreneurship programs can create opportunities for the youth to thrive. Rwanda’s efforts in this regard have propelled the nation’s development and reduced youth unemployment rates.

Senegal, a neighbouring country in West Africa, has demonstrated the transformative impact of inclusive governance. The Senegalese government has enhanced citizen participation and decision-making by decentralising power and empowering local communities. Local leaders, elected by their peers, have been entrusted with the authority to address community needs, from infrastructure development to social services.

This inclusive approach has fostered a sense of ownership and accountability among citizens, as they actively contribute to shaping policies that affect their daily lives. Consequently, Senegal has seen improved service delivery and a reduction in political tensions, ensuring greater stability at the local and national levels.

In conclusion, the Niger coup has unveiled the harsh realities that West Africa can no longer afford to ignore. It has laid bare the urgent need to address corruption, youth unemployment, and governance disconnect, as these issues threaten the very foundation of political stability in our region. As citizens, it is incumbent upon us to rise and demand change. We must not be complacent or turn a blind eye to the challenges that lie ahead. We should actively participate in the political process, holding our leaders accountable, and advocating for transparency.

Governments must take swift and decisive action, heeding the voices of their people. Engaging in open dialogue and implementing meaningful reforms are imperative to bridge the gap between governance and the governed. Only through genuine collaboration can we create a West Africa that flourishes in unity and resilience.

To ECOWAS, the responsibility lies in leading the charge for regional cooperation and support. Facilitating dialogue between member states and providing resources for sustainable development are crucial steps in forging a brighter future for our collective community.

This is a pivotal moment of reckoning, an opportunity for us to reshape the destiny of West Africa. Together, we can overcome the obstacles that hinder progress and prosperity. The path ahead may be challenging, but with determination and unity, we can steer our beloved West Africa towards a brighter tomorrow. Let us embrace this call to action, leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit of a better and more resilient West Africa. Together, we can make a lasting impact and create a legacy of positive change for years to come.

About the author

Head, Capacity Development Unit at WACSI

Charles Kojo Vandyck is a dynamic development practitioner and thought leader who is driving transformative change within civil society. As a Founding Member of the prestigious International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), spearheaded by the renowned Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Charles is at the forefront of transforming citizen participation worldwide. With positions as a Trustee of INTRAC and an Advisory Board Member of Disrupt Development, he is shaping the future from Oxford to Amsterdam. Charles's remarkable contributions continue as a Core Team Member of the game-changing Reimagining INGOs (RINGO) initiative and as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Recognised by the Development Studies Association, Charles is also a certified Change the Game Academy Master Trainer and an IFC-Learning and Performance Institute Trainer. Prepare to be inspired by Charles as he paves the way for a more resilient, sustainable, and empowered civil society.

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Charles Kojo Vandyck

Charles Kojo Vandyck is a dynamic development practitioner and thought leader who is driving transformative change within civil society. As a Founding Member of the prestigious International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), spearheaded by the renowned Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Charles is at the forefront of transforming citizen participation worldwide. With positions as a Trustee of INTRAC and an Advisory Board Member of Disrupt Development, he is shaping the future from Oxford to Amsterdam. Charles's remarkable contributions continue as a Core Team Member of the game-changing Reimagining INGOs (RINGO) initiative and as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Recognised by the Development Studies Association, Charles is also a certified Change the Game Academy Master Trainer and an IFC-Learning and Performance Institute Trainer. Prepare to be inspired by Charles as he paves the way for a more resilient, sustainable, and empowered civil society.

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.