Northern Elders Forum (NEF), on Tuesday, pleaded with President Bola Tinubu to rescind the sanctions on the Niger Republic to pave the way for seamless negotiations with the military junta.
Recall that after the military coup that removed the elected president of the Niger Republic, President Tinubu ordered the disconnection of the power supply to the Niger Republic and the closure of borders between the two countries as part of sanctions for toppling a government.
The NEF Convener, Professor Ango Abdullahi, disclose this in Abuja, during a press briefing through his Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the removal of sanctions on the country will make negotiations easier to conduct.
He said: “Negative sanctions are affecting the morale and welfare of citizens of both countries and will detract from the existing positive disposition towards Nigeria’s position. Nigeria should remove all sanctions and other measures intended to force the government and people of Niger into acquiescence.
“This will make negotiations led by Nigeria, using all assets that both countries value, easier to conduct. The Forum notes the apology offered by the military leaders in Niger to our President over the manner in which his envoys, General Abdusalami and His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, were received.”
NEF also said that the safety of President Bazoum and his family and the restoration of the constitutional order must remain non-negotiable priorities.
The Northern Elders further stated that the military leaders in Niger must accord due cognizance and respect for the position of ECOWAS, whose fundamental principles and goals the Niger Republic submitted to.
“Active negotiations regarding President Bazoum and the plans of the military leadership in Niger should commence immediately. Nigeria is uniquely placed to engage the leadership of the Niger Republic to accept these with the minimum of delay. President Tinubu is Chairman of ECOWAS and leader of Nigerians.”
He should explore ways of balancing these responsibilities without doing any injury to the position of Nigeria and Nigerians in the Niger Republic and the unity of the ECOWAS”, NEF noted.
Furthermore, NEF said the use of force against Niger should be ruled out, as it is unlikely to achieve the goals of restoring the constitutional order and improving the frontiers of democratic systems in West Africa.
He added, “It will compound the security and humanitarian crises in the ECOWAS region. It is likely to weaken and further divide the ECOWAS and provide greater access for non-African interests into the lives of Africans, with negative consequences.
“The ECOWAS should actively re-assess the roles and designs of non-African interests in the West African region. In addition to multiple threats from armed groups in the Sahel and the region, we are becoming increasingly victims of global military manoeuvres and a scramble for our assets.
“Ordinary Africans understand this, and they resent another wave of exploitation of our weaknesses and our resources by parts of the world who have little respect for Africa. African leaders must improve the quality of elections and governance so that African people can value and defend democracy in Africa with greater vigour.”
NEF commends all leaders and persons of influence, including the Nigerian Senate, who are contributing to a genuine resolution of the situation in the Niger Republic.
The forum also urge President Tinubu to recognise this unique moment in history and conduct himself in such a manner that it records his role as defining statesmanship.