Peter Obi the candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to focus on resolving the political crisis in Niger Republic through dialogue rather than military action. Peter Obi, in a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday, said he “join many well-meaning Nigerians who have advocated that any intervention in the crisis, should be pre-eminently through diplomatic dialogue among all strategic interests in the crisis”.
Following the July 26 coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger, ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on the francophone country in an attempt to force the military authorities to restore the expelled president, but the coup leaders have remained defiant.
ECOWAS launched its standby force for military action against the military junta in Niger Republic on Thursday. The decision was made during an emergency meeting of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, which was hosted by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja, Nigeria. Top officials from the United Nations, the African Union, and the regional bloc attended the meeting.
However, the ECOWAS Parliament is divided on whether to employ military action to remove the military junta that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 and reinstall a new president. The military junta commanded by General Abdourahmane Tchiani has steadfastly refused to heed pleas and international pressure to release President Bazoum, who has been detained at his home since the coup took place on July 26, 2023.
A seven-day ultimatum that was given to the military junta to restore the democratically elected government of Bazoum expired last Sunday. However, Peter Obi said the focus of engagement with the military junta in Niger Republic should be dialogue.
According to the words of Peter Obi; “Recent developments in the neighboring Niger Republic have become the subject of international attention. For Nigeria, this development is a matter of dire and urgent national interest and security. Inevitably, Niger is a hot-button issue for ECOWAS, as well as various international communities. Regardless of the positions taken by various parties that have direct or tangential interests in Niger Republic, primacy must be given to dialogue and diplomacy towards a resolution with minimal disruptive impact on Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
“A total diplomatic resolution must take into consideration the realpolitik of the West African sub-region. I applaud the respective mediatory efforts by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and His Royal Highness Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Whereas ECOWAS authorities have indicated that they remain open to various conflict resolution options, diplomacy must remain the overarching imperative in resolving the present crisis.”
According to Peter Obi, it is important for the people of Niger to be allowed “via their national institutions, the opportunity to revert quickly to a representative democratic government”.
According to his words; “All national, regional and international assistance should be extended to the people of Niger to return their country to normalcy. While ECOWAS must seek to discourage the spread of military dictatorships in West Africa, the recourse to armed deterrence must be retrained by multilateral diplomatic mechanisms.”
“What the situation in Niger urgently calls for is a concerted multilateral coalition of Nigeria, ECOWAS, AU and the UN towards a programmed return to a democratic constitutional order. In this process, Nigeria’s leadership role must not be in any doubt,” he added.
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