Tinubu’s government cuts off power supply to Niger Republic over coup

The Nigerian government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has cut off electricity supply to the Republic of Niger over a coup.

According to Channels TV,  the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) Kano State sub-region Public Relations Officer, Adam Umar El-yandiski, confirmed this via phone call.

On Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the BBC reported that major cities in Niger Republic were facing rolling blackouts because of the power supply cut from Nigeria. This was according to the Nigerien electricity company, Nigelec.

The TCN official said the electricity supply from Nigeria to Niger came directly from the national grid and the cut will not impact any part of the country.

The move was part of pressure on the country’s coup leaders.

In 2022, there were reports on the reasons why Nigeria supplies electricity to Niger Republic and other African countries – Togo, and Benin Republic.

According to the Guardian, Managing Director of TCN, Sule Abdulaziz, while addressing attendees at the Nigerian Power Consumers Forum said that Nigeria, through TCN, had been exporting electricity to Niger, Benin and Togo under a country-to-country arrangement.

According to him, electricity supply to the regional market enables the federal government to earn more foreign exchange for national development.

He also stated that the regional market would enable generation companies (GenCos) to export power to more West African countries, which will be evacuated by TCN transmission infrastructure.

In 2021, it was reported that Nigeria sells electricity to neighbouring countries for strategic purposes. According to NBET Managing Director Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, who appeared before the Federal House of Representatives in November 2021, Nigeria sells 6% of the electricity it generates to neighbouring countries because of the issues of dams.

Meanwhile, West Africa’s regional bloc stated on Wednesday that a military intervention in junta-ruled Niger would only be considered as a last resort. As France, the ex-colonial power, continued evacuating its citizens with a fifth plane, General Abdourahamane Tiani, the coup leader, remained firm in asserting that there was no reason for them to leave the country.

Amid the departures, the United States ordered a partial evacuation of its embassy in Niamey. In response to the coup that had shaken the nation, West African military chiefs gathered in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to devise a course of action, while another delegation engaged in negotiations in Niger.

Last Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders imposed trade and financial sanctions, providing the coup leaders with a one-week ultimatum to restore Niger’s democratically elected president, or else face potential military force. Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, emphasized that the military option was the very last resort but acknowledged the necessity to prepare for such an eventuality.

The ECOWAS team, led by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar, held talks in Niger during a three-day meeting of the military chiefs in Abuja. Nigeria, as West Africa’s pre-eminent military and economic power and the current chair of ECOWAS, has committed to taking a firm stance against the proliferation of coups in the region since 2020.

As part of the sanctions, Nigeria cut off electricity supply to Niger, a country heavily dependent on it for 70 percent of its power. In response, junta-ruled Mali and Burkina Faso warned that any military intervention in Niger would be seen as a “declaration of war” against them.

One of the Niger coup leaders, General Salifou Mody, visited Mali’s capital, Bamako, with a delegation and stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries in an interview aired on Malian state television.

Russia, on the other hand, called for “urgent national dialogue” in Niger and cautioned against the use of intervention threats, stating they would not help ease tensions or stabilize the domestic situation.

Later that Wednesday, the World Bank followed suit with other international organizations, announcing the suspension of aid to Niger, with the exception of private sector partnerships

By Temitope Hassan