Buhari promises to work with Niger, stabilise ECOWAS region
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday assured the newly inaugurated president of Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, of Nigeria’s willingness to work with the country to stabilize the West African region.
Buhari, while hosting the Nigerien president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said Nigeria would do everything to “stabilize our region for the benefit of the two countries”.
President Bazoum was in Nigeria on his first international visit.
Buhari identified Nigerians and Nigeriens as people with similar culture, language and ways of life.
“We also share about 1,500 kilometres of land border, so we cannot ignore each other,” he said.
The two countries have also been at the receiving end of attacks from the dreaded Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) and Boko Haram that have led to the death and displacement of several of its citizens.
Bazoum recently assumed office two days after surviving an attempted military coup after an election that led to the first-ever democratic changeover. He contested the presidential election under the platform of the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism and was declared winner in the second round of voting held on Feb. 21, 2021.
His victory at the polls had been subject of bitter contest as his rival, Mahamane Ousmane, while rejecting the results, also called for public demonstrations.
“You have been in the system for a long time. The only thing is that you had never been president. Now you are one,” Buhari said.
He assured that Nigeria would assist Niger in diverse ways as required.
On terrorism as perpetrated by Boko Haram, President Buhari observed that Republic of Niger also suffers high casualties.
“We will do all it takes to secure our two countries,” he said.
President Buhari was thankful to the immediate past President Mahamadou Issoufou for what he calls “his understanding and sacrifices” to help stabilize the region, urging Bazoum to maintain the institutions his predecessor had established.
President Bazoum said he was delighted to make Nigeria his first port of call, noting that the two countries have common interests, “and, therefore, a good relationship is very important”.
On security, he observed that the fact that some Nigerians flee to Niger during terrorist attacks “shows that we need to cooperate, and we will face our challenges together”.