The Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey hosted a conference debate on Tuesday, November 15th on “Niger-France Cooperation: Analysis and Prospects” and “Niger-France Cooperation: What Imbalance”. The conference was hosted by the new French Ambassador to Niger, HE Sylvain Itté, and Mr. Moussa Tchangari, Secretary General of the Association Alternatives Espaces Citoyens, at the invitation of the UENUN Executive Committee. Both stormy and intense discussions allowed the students to learn about the priorities of bilateral cooperation and the grievances of some Nigerians against France.
The first speaker, the French Ambassador, recognized from the outset the risk he was taking to discuss his country’s relations with Niger with students at Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey. But, he says, “it is always preferable to debate, to exchange, to dialogue, to confront each other than everyone to stay on their side to conduct the dialogue through intermediary social networks”. Hence his presence to answer students’ questions and ensure that the common thread of the debate is “based on objective, concrete and real elements”.
Mr. Sylvain Itté recalled that France’s presence in Niger is above all a presence of cooperation and support for the country’s development in the fields of health, education, urban development, hydraulics and energy. France’s three sectors of intervention in Niger are hydraulics, agriculture and agro-industry, and education, which is a priority of the President of the Republic, Mohamed Bazoum. The French ambassador also spoke on the presence of the French army in Niger, at the invitation of the legitimate authorities and after a vote in the National Assembly in which no one opposed it, since the opposition had only abstained from voting in the plenary hall.
“No one is obliged to like French politics, or France, or the French. On the other hand, today I wish that at the end of our debate we have raised the question and the problem on the basis of real facts that are not only the result of social networks “, specified Mr. Sylvain Itté.
The French diplomat also advocated posing the problem from the two parties as a whole, in order to present the responsibilities as a whole and to analyze them as objectively as possible in order to extract the positive elements for the future, so as not to miss them this important moment for the African youth who want to build their future on new foundations.
For his part, the second speaker recalled the history of the French presence in Niger and the ups and downs that had occurred in bilateral relations with Niger. The Secretary General of the Association Alternatives Espaces Citoyens cited the war events in Biafra and the struggles for independence in Quebec, two events in which independent Niger refused to align itself with France’s position. “The issue of uranium, he said, has always been at the center of tensions between the two countries,” he said.
Mr. Moussa Tchangari condemned the French military presence in Niger and spoke of incomplete decolonization. In his remarks, he also castigated France’s propensity to support independence movements in Africa. The Secretary-General of the Alternatives Espaces Citizens Association detailed the current security situation, which he attributes in part to France, and the imbalance that this deliberately causes.
Mr Moussa Tchangari then accused several sub-regional and regional organizations of playing into the hands of “foreign powers”.
The exchange and debate of ideas that began in conviviality suddenly took on the appearance of cacophony and targeted and unfounded attacks, but without providing evidence and other tangible elements to illustrate the points made. As the moderation team was overwhelmed, there was a lack of tact in rephrasing the contributions, forcing the second speaker, the Secretary General of the Association Alternatives Espaces Citoyens, to improvise himself as “moderator”.
Souleymane Yahaya (onep)