Mr. Peter Obi, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25, 2023 election has called for diplomatic dialogue as the best way to resolve the festering Niger Republic crisis.
This is against the backdrop of the deployment of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) standby forces, in apparent readiness for armed intervention in the country backed by Western powers; imposition of sanctions on the country by some ECOWAS member states and cutting of power supply to Niger by Nigeria which has also shut its borders with the nation.
The former Anambra State Governor, who applauded the mediatory efforts of former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, and former Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, also urged that “national, regional and international assistance should be extended to the people of Niger to return their country to normalcy.”
The tweet in full reads:
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.
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. 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. I join the 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.
It is therefore important that the people of Niger are allowed via their national institutions, the opportunity to revert quickly to a representative democratic government. 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 restrained by multilateral diplomatic mechanisms.
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. In this process, Nigeria’s leadership role must not be in any doubt. -PO