Nobody is interested in war’ — President Tinubu sends delegation back to Niger Republic for more talks

‘Nobody is interested in war’ — President Tinubu sends delegation back to Niger Republic for more talks

Despite the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of governments rooting for a military action to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic, the chairman of the body and Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, has said that the military option will only be executed until all diplomatic options are exhausted.

Tinubu spoke on Thursday while receiving the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) at the State House, according to a statement released by Ajuri Ngelale, special adviser to the president on media and publicity.

While addressing the NSCIA delegation led by Muhammad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Tinubu thanked the council for its efforts in leading dialogues with Niger’s military junta.

He said the forceful removal of the democratic government in the country remains “wholly unacceptable”.

The president said military intervention is not off the table, but added that it was a situation that would rather be avoided.

“I must thank you for your several visits to Niger Republic, Your Eminence, but you will still have to go back,” the statement quoted the president as saying.

“My fear has been confirmed in Gabon that copycats will start doing the same thing until it is stopped. We are neighbours with Niger Republic, and what has joined Nigerians together with their great people cannot be broken.

“Nobody is interested in a war. We have seen the devastation in Ukraine and Sudan. But, if we don’t wield the big stick, we will all suffer the consequences together.”

Tinubu noted that Nigeria under Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, instituted a nine-month transition programme in 1998 which was successful and led the country into a new era of democratic governance.

“Your Eminence, please don’t get tired, you will still go back there. The soldiers’ action is unacceptable. The earlier they make positive adjustments, the quicker we will dial back the sanctions to alleviate the sufferings we are seeing in Niger,” the statement reads.

The Sultan of Sokoto had been part of an ECOWAS delegation to Niger led by Abdulsalami to negotiate with the country’s military junta.

The meeting was unproductive as the junta declined entreaties by the delegation.

The Niger’s junta had also said it would hand over power in three years but ECOWAS rejected the proposal.

The regional body said it would no longer accept prolonged transition periods in the sub-region.

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