The Senate has asked the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS and other leaders of the region to tread softly in addressing the political quagmire in Niger Republic.
Rising from a closed-door session that lasted close to two hours to discuss the letter written to the Senate on Friday by President Bola Tinubu on the decisions taken by the regional body, the Senate asked ECOWAS to strengthen political and diplomatic options and other means to resolve the political compass in the Niger Republic.
The Senate while condemning the Niger coup in totality, commended the chairman, President Bola Tinubu and other Heads of State of the other States of ECOWAS for their prompt response and the positions taken on the unfortunate development in Niger Republic.
Reading the resolutions of the Senators after the meeting, the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio said that “the Senate recognizes that President Tinubu via his correspondence has not asked for the approval of the parliament of this Senate to go to war as erroneously suggested in some quarters.
“Rather Mr President has expressed a wish to respectfully solicit the support of the National Ass in the successful implementation of the resolutions of the ECOWAS as outlined in the said communication.
“The Senate calls on the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the chairman of ECOWAS to further encourage other leaders of ECOWAS to strengthen political and diplomatic options and other means intending to resolve the political compass in Niger Republic.
“The National Assembly to the ECOWAS under the leadership of President Tinubu in resolving the political situation in Niger and returning the country to democratic governance in the nearest future.
“The leadership of the Senate is mandated to further engage with the president and commander in chief with on behalf of the Senate and the entire National Assembly on how best to resolve the issue given the hitherto existing cordial relationship between Nigerieans and Nigerians.
“Finally, the Senate calls on the ECOWAS parliament to rise to the occasion by equally condemning this coup and also positing solutions to resolving this compass as soon as possible.”
There was no doubt that the federal government planned to send troops to Niger Republic following a letter by President Bola Tinubu to the Senate asking its support for military intervention against the military junta in the Niger Republic.
But the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) Caucus of the 10th Senate did not agree with Tinubu. They are not happy about the political developments in Niger Republic, but think the Federal Government should not endanger the country, according to one of them, “to please western powers that are thought to be prodding Nigeria.”
The NSF’s spokesman, Sen. Suleiman A. Kawu Sumaila, noted the efforts of the ECOWAS leaders under the chairmanship of President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in resolving the situation in Niger Republic, but want the emphasis to be focused on political and diplomatic means to restore democratic government in Nigeria’s northern neighbour.
The statement he signed reads, “We also take exception to use of the of military force until other avenues as mentioned above are exhausted as the consequences will be casualties among the innocent citizens who go about their daily business.
“Besides, about seven northern states who shared border with Niger Republic namely Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno will be negatively affected.
“We are also aware of the situation of Mali, Burkina Faso and Libya, which may affect the seven Northern states, if military force is used. There is serious implication for our country, if military force is used without exhausting all the diplomatic channels.
“As democrats and representatives of the people we are here by urging our colleagues to observe due diligence in invoking section 5 sub section (4) (a) and (b) of 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended.”
General Abdourahamane Tchiani, head of the presidential guard overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum last week Wednesday; and has rebuffed overtures and threats from the ECOWAS and other world powers, like the US and France, to step down and restore power to Bazoum.
Tinubu’s letter reads, “Political situation in Niger. Following the unfortunate political situation in Niger Republic culminating in the overthrow of its President, ECOWAS under my leadership condemned the coup in its entirety and resolved to seek the return of the democratically elected govt in a bid to restore peace, ECOWAS convened a meeting and came out with a communique.”
He also sought support for the following:
“Military buildup and deployment of personnel for military intervention to enforce compliance of the military junta in Niger should they remain recalcitrant.
“Closure and monitoring of all land borders with the Niger Republic and reactivating of the border drilling exercise.
“Cutting off Electricity supply to the Niger Republic, mobilising international support for the implementation of the provisions of the ECOWAS communique.”
“Preventing the operation of commercial and special flights into and from Niger Republic; Blockade of goods in transit to Niger especially from Lagos and eastern seaports,” he added.
He also disclosed that government was embarking on sensitisation of Nigerians and Nigeriens on the imperative of these actions, particularly via social media.
Niger depends on Nigeria for 70 percent of its electricity supply from Nigeria.
Everyday.ng reports that the Nigerien junta has severed diplomatic ties with Nigeria, the US and France, amid reports of tension in the country, which appears to have the support of majority of citizens.
▪︎ Additional report by Vanguard.