The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders (SMBLF), a coalition of pressure groups, says the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), should continue to explore peaceful options to resolve the political crisis in the Niger Republic.
The group, in a communique issued on Friday, condemned the “illegal military government” in Niger, calling for an urgent restoration of democracy in the country….CONTINUE READING
While commending President Bola Tinubu, the chairman of ECOWAS, for utilising dialogue with the military junta, the coalition added that he should focus on his primary responsibility, which is leading Nigeria.
“We discourage the temptation to adopt military means to force the illegal government out of power. From our judgment, such a move will be resisted sternly by forces both within Niger and Nigeria,” the communique reads.
“It is important to note that several of our Nigerian communities in the extreme north do not see Niger as mere neighbours but enjoy a lot of traditional and cultural ties. In those border areas, there is no difference between a Nigerian and a Nigerien.
“There are tenable concerns that if war comes, normal lives will be disrupted in the border communities, insecurity will increase, and there will be an influx of refugees.
“From our previous experience of wars, in Chad, such refugees do not stop at the border areas but penetrated the farthermost points in Nigeria and became a source of concern to all of us.
“Back in Niger, the people seem to perceive the military government as liberators due to the state of poverty and hunger. ECOWAS intervention, even if supported could, therefore, be highly resisted all across the country.
“We have also read very disturbing reports that the equally unconstitutionally existing governments in their neighbouring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, and those in other places, within the area, may combine to resist the ECOWAS efforts in their self-interest.
“We strongly advise the president and chairman of the ECOWAS authority of heads to state to explore all avenues for a peaceful resolution.
“This matter is delicate and could affect our country’s unity and, security, and put a heavy financial burden on us, at a time when our national challenges are more than can be imagined.
“We hope Mr president will carefully continue to take heed on doing what will not create additional problems for the country and take the best decisions, in line with our national interest.”
The communique was jointly signed by leaders of different socio-political groups, including Edwin Clark, Ayo Adebanjo, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Pogu Bitrus, and Emmanuel Ibok Essien….CONTINUE READING