Nigerian opposition leader Peter Obi says the Niger crisis is a hot button issue urges dialogue and diplomacy as ECOWAS parliament splits
Peter Obi the Nigerian opposition leader in a series of posts on the micro blogging site X, Sunday, called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to pursue dialogue and diplomacy in resolving the stand off with the military junta.
“Recent developments in the neighbouring Niger Republic have become the subject of international attention. For Nigeria, this development is a matter of dire and urgent national interest and security.” The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) said.
Obi who is seeking a court judgement at the Presidential Election Petition (PEPT) which will annul the victory of the Nigerian president Bola Tinubu in the February elections added that caution must be applied as the Niger crisis was a “hot button” issue.
“Inevitably, Niger is a hot-button issue for ECOWAS, as well as various international interlocutors. Regardless of the positions taken by various parties that have direct or tangential interests in Niger, primacy must be given to dialogue and diplomacy towards a resolution with minimal disruptive impact on Nigeria and the West African sub-region.”
Stressing on the themes of dialogue and diplomacy he advised ECOWAS leaders to take the “realpolitik of the West African subregion” into consideration. Two ECOWAS members who are governed by military juntas Mali and Burkina Faso have pledged to come to the aid of Niger if Nigeria attacks.
The LP presidential candidate applauded the efforts at mediating the crisis by the former Nigerian military leader Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar and the former Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido.
Obi, further called for a global approach in resolving the impasse. “What the situation in Niger urgently calls for is a concerted multilateral coalition of Nigeria, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN towards a programmed return to a democratic constitutional order,” adding that Nigeria’s role as a leader is without doubt.
On Sunday Al Jazeera reported the ECOWAS parliament has so far been unable to come to terms over the invasion into Niger amid serious disagreements in its ranks.
Earlier, Reuters reported that the ECOWAS parliament planned to send a delegation to Niger for talks with rebels.
In late July, a group of military rebels in Niger announced the removal of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum. They then established the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), headed by General Abdourahmane Tchiani, to run the country. Bazoum remains detained at his residence but is reportedly in telephone contact with the outside world.
The ECOWAS leaders had previously demanded that the rebels release Bazoum by August 7, threatening to use force among other options. The organization said it was resolved to restore constitutional order in Niger. Upon returning from the summit, President of the Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara said that the ECOWAS leaders agreed on launching a military operation in Niger as soon as possible.
Akowe with reports from Abuja
Additional materials from TASS/Al Jazeera/Reuters