• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Tinubu meets governors of states bordering Niger Republic


President Bola Tinubu on Sunday met with Governors of states sharing boundaries with the Niger Republic as part of his efforts to allay their fears and reduce tension within the region.

The meeting which took place at the Presidential Villa, on Sunday evening in Abuja, BusinessDay gathered, was part of consultations by the President on the situation in Niger.

The governors who attended the meeting were Ahmed Aliyu (Sokoto), Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Mai Malam Buni (Yobe), Idris Nasir (Kebbi) and Dikko Radda (Katsina).

Although details of the meeting was not available at the time of filing this report, BusinessDay gathered that the meeting followed reports of fears expressed by Nigerians, especially citizens of those states that share close socioeconomic and cultural affinities with families on both sides of the divide.

Read also: Border closure: Nigeria is not at war with Niger Republic – NCS

A top government official of one of the state who spoke with BusinessDay, said there had been fears expressed by those who share such affinities over the plans by the Nigerian government in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to explore military options to restore democratic rule in Niger, following recent military coup that toppled the government of Mohamed Bazoum.

“We hope this does not become another Russia/ Ukraine war in Africa. Our people are afraid because of the international dimensions that the situation is assuming,” the official said.

“We are aware, that Mali backed by Russia has mobilized military equipment and machinery to Niger, to forestall any chance of ECOWAS success and our people are afraid that their territories may become a theater of unnecessary war”.

Although it was not immediately clear, if the meeting was at the instance of the Governors or the President himself, but our source expressed the hope that “the President will tread softly on this matter”.

Only recently, President Bola Tinubu, dispatched a delegation to Niger Republic with a mandate to expeditiously resolve the current political impasse in the country.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said the action of Tinubu who is Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, was in line with the resolution reached at the end of the extraordinary summit of the ECOWAS held last weekend in Abuja.

The delegation, headed by former Nigerian Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, left for Niamey on Thursday following a briefing by President Tinubu at the State House in Abuja.

The former Nigerian leader was accompanied by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray.

The President has also sent a separate delegation led by Babagana Kingibe to engage with the leaders of Libya and Algeria on the Niger crisis.

Briefing the two delegations, President Tinubu charged them to engage all stakeholders robustly with a view to doing whatever it takes to ensure a conclusive and amicable resolution of the situation in Niger for the purposes of African peace and development rather than a move to adopt the geopolitical positions of other nations.

“We don’t want to hold brief for anybody. Our concern is democracy and the peace of the region,” the President said.

Speaking after the meeting, Abdulsalami Abubakar assured that the delegation would meet the coup leaders in Niger to present the demands of the ECOWAS leadership.

Both leaders of the two missions expressed optimism on the outcome of the assignments.

The regional body, ECOWAS had on Sunday, passed resolution to impose sanctions on the landlocked West African country over the recent disruption of the country’s democracy with the imposition of a military junta led by the former Presidential guards commander, Abdourahmane Tiani who declared himself as the new leader of Niger after the dramatic coup.

Tiani who hails from Filingue, in the region of Tillaberi, which borders Mali, had earlier served as military attache at Niger’s embassy in Germany and had been the leader of the elite presidential guard unit since 2011.