PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu, yesterday, said he was managing a serious situation and that he was the one holding back the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, heads of State and government.
President Tinubu, who is the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, also implored a delegation of Islamic scholars (Ulamas), who were previously engaged in discussions to facilitate the restoration of constitutional democratic governance in Niger Republic, to expedite progress in their ongoing dialogue with the military junta.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said: “I am managing a very serious situation. If you take ECOWAS aside, other people will react, those who are outside of our control. I am the one holding those sides back. I am the one holding back ECOWAS”.
On the urgency of the situation, he said: “Even as at this morning, I have been inundated with phone calls on the readiness of countries with their military force and contributions. However, I told them to wait. I am meeting with the Ulamas and I will get back to you.”
The Islamic clerics under the umbrella of Ulama’a, yesterday, briefed President Bola Tinubu on their meetings with the military junta and disclosed that the President has sent them back to Niamey to continue their diplomatic efforts to resolve the political crisis in the Sahel country.
The Islamic clerics, comprising different Islamic sects, after the meeting, insisted that they don’t want war or any military action in the country that shared boundaries with Nigeria.
The military led by Abdourahamane Tchiani had on July 26, dethroned the democratically elected Niger President, in a bloodless coup.
But authorities of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS heads of State and government have insisted that the deposed President should be reinstated “ECOWAS, which has President Tinubu as its Chairman had announced many sanctions against the military junta, including military actions if they failed to reinstate the democratically elected government.
At their second meeting with the President, the Islamic clerics led by Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, maintained their initial position of resolving the political crisis amicably without the use of military might.
President Tinubu had mandated them to go back to Niger to continue the negotiations with the junta
The delegation led by Sheikh Bauchi, met with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to brief him on their dialogue with the military junta in Niger Republic on behalf of ECOWAS.
After the meeting with President Tinubu, Sheikh Bauchi, who spoke to State House correspondents, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the President.
He said: “We thank Allah for giving us the opportunity and we appreciate and commend the efforts of the President and as you saw, we have just met with him and told him all what went on there in Niger and he appreciated and he still gave us the mandate that we should continue to make this dialogue and discuss with the junta over there, because they gave us listening ears and we are sure, through peaceful discussions, we’ll be able to achieve what we want.
We are still going back there to ensure that through peaceful and amicable ways, as spiritual leaders, we’ll be able to do and contribute what we can be able to do.
What we want? We don’t want war, we want peace to reign in our region. So may Allah continue to bless the President for giving us this opportunity.”
Allah will answer our prayers — MINISTER
Also speaking to journalists, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Malagi, confirmed that the Ulama’a had briefed Mr. President on the situation, and the effort is still ongoing.
He said President Tinubu was interested in exploring peaceful options in the matter and that nothing was off the table, adding that he asked the Islamic clerics to continue with their dialogue.
Macron urges Niger to restore constitutional order
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a return to democratic order in Niger, a former French colony whose elected leadership was toppled in a military coup in July.
“As far as Niger is concerned, we are clear, the coup is a coup against democracy in Niger, against the people in Niger and against the fight against terrorism,” Macron said, yesterday.
France demanded the release of detained President Mohamed Bazoum and the “restoration of constitutional order: “If we hadn’t got involved with operations Serval and then Barkhane, there’s no doubt Mali and Burkina Faso will no longer exist, and I’m not sure myself if Niger will still exist,” he said.