New Telegraph

War In Niger Republic ‘Ll Trigger Serious Crises In Africa –Abdulaziz

The Coup in Niger Republic which toppled the democratically elected government of President Mohammed Bazoum, has elicited reactions across the globe, particularly West African countries under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The sub–regional group has taken it upon itself to ensure that the democratically elected government is returned. As a starter it imposed a number of sanctions against the military Junta. The National President, Patriotic Elders of Nigeria, Alhaji Bature AbdulAziz, in this interview with MUHAMMAD KABIR, speaks on a wide ranging of issues surrounding the aberration in Niger as well as solutions to the impasse.

Mr. President, what is your take on the faceoff between the coup leaders in Niger and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is insisting on reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Bazoum? In our position as the Patriotic Elders of Nigeria, it would not be right to keep silent on recent occurrences in the country. Let me start by expressing my gratitude to His Excellency Bola Ahmad Tinubu, the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

There is no doubt that Tinubu has proven himself to be a well-equipped and experienced leader. Coincidentally, he also turns out to be the leader of ECOWAS when the Coup in Niger took place. On issues of diplomacy in the world, being the leader of ECOWAS, he would not say that since the coup took place in a neighbouring country the coupists should be left alone.

It behoves on him to follow and implement the accepted rules of the sub-region or the entire African continent that no longer will democratically governments be overthrown. In accordance with global best practices, the military junta were given the chance to withdraw their negative intentions and return Bazoum to power or face the wrath of the ECOWAS. Even as the military action announced by ECOWAS is the last option, some people with ill intentions changed what the ECOWAS said by bringing the last option as first in order to boo the government. They turned the whole thing on Tinubu, wrongly accusing him of planning to go to war with Niger.

When you listen to the social media, people from Niger will never be happy with what they are wrongly depicting. Being an experienced person, does not also have any intention of going to war as an option, he sent powerful delegations which include the Sultan of Sokoto, General Abdussalam (Abubakar) and other very important personalities to go and dialogue with the military junta. But because the coup plotters were not ready for dialogue at that point, they refused to attend to them and were turned back from the airport.

Moreover, it has been mentioned recently in the media that the coup leader had apologized to the high-powered delegation that they turned down in the early days of the coup. It is good that he has apologized. I will get back to that point later. Apart from that, there had been other high-powered delegations that were sent by the African Union AU, United Nations UNO, and others were all refused by any company.

I am very happy that the Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has the wisdom to reason with the northern religious leaders who wanted to dialogue with the coup leaders. He gave them the chance to go and try their luck which they did. The junta granted them an audience. If his head was locked, he would not have allowed them to go but because of his good intention he gave them to go and they had fruitful discussions.

There is this patriotic and high-class personality Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, who also made his own effort when he visited the king of Damagaram with whom they went and had a session with the coup plotters to remind them of the long relationship between Nigeria and Niger which they should uphold. It is good that they were received and given audience by the coup leaders in such a way that Nigerians and others were pleased with the visit and the outcome.

Even as they went on their own they were given a very important message to deliver to the Nigerian President which has opened the route to dialogue between the two neighbors. This opening was utilized by President Tinubu, where he immediately sent a delegation of religious scholars. They said that they were received at the airport by one of the coup leaders and taken to the Leader who respectfully addressed them. They came back with the news of the good reception they got.

There is a need to appreciate President Bola Tinubu for this good work. He has proven to be a complete diplomat who believes in dialogue. One can even see that more than 80% of the speech he delivered recently was on peaceful dialogue. We the Patriotic Elders are not in support of any military coup. What we dislike is war because it will start small but escalates to become disastrous. Those who start the war might end up being consumed by it.

Our message to the coup leaders is that they should never hurt the deposed President Bazoum. Since the coup has already taken place, even if they return him to power, there will still be challenges and inconsistencies that would result from the coup that took place. There will be clashes between those supporting the coup plotters and those supporting Bazoum and this will not end in the near future.

All the efforts ECOWAS made in order to meet the coup plotters before they appointed state governors and other leaders was in vain. Now that they have made all the appointments, it will also not be easy to stop them again.

So what do you expect ECPWAS to do now?

I will call on ECOWAS to please consider them on the condition that they will organize elections and return the government to civil rule within the next six months or one year or even two years. I call on ECOWAS to accept them and allow them two years to reinstate democracy in the country. More so, if they agree to these conditions, they should then be relieved of all the sanc- tions placed on them. I want to use this op- portunity to beg President Bola Ahmad Tinubu to reconnect electricity supply to Niger.

This should be done even if other sanctions will not be lifted. As we all know, the importance of electricity cannot be over empha- sised as it is being used in hospitals, indus- tries, schools and other commercial places as well. We call on the authorities concerned to lift the ban on electricity supply to Niger by Nigeria. We hope the dialogue between the two par- ties will not last very long because if it does, it will affect the poor masses.

This has affected business in Niger and the poor masses are crying out due to rise in prices of commodities and life is becoming more difficult. We are calling on ECOWAS and its lead- ership as well as the committee members, especially the likes of Babagana Kingibe, we are calling on all of them and are thanking them for the stance they have taken insisting that the National Assembly will not accept war with the Niger Republic. I also wish to appreciate the role played by the spokesman of the Assembly Kawu Sumaila.

We want our people to continue to speak out to show that they are patriotic and dedicated. They should continue to show that they have a lot to contribute as well. We thank all of them for that. We also wish to thank those who have played various roles in the matter, especially the Jama’atu Nasril Islam who have ruled out any war with Niger. We support all those that have spoken out against the coup.

The issue is such that whenever there is a coup, the Europeans and America always come out to show the world that they are not in support of it but, is not true. They are being deceptive. They only look out for their interests. In some instances, they are even the ones that sponsor and fund the coups just to protect their greed. This coup d’etat in Niger, the Europeans and Americans will end up supporting Ni- ger in order to get their hands on Nigerien’s resources.

They would want to cause crises to benefit from the resources. It is never their intention to bring any peace. All they want is to cause more crises and they are known for that anywhere they go in the world. Whenever they want to destroy a nation they engage in this hypocrisy. I will give an example with Sudan and the way they have for long wanted to bring down the country without success. But when the time came and they found an opening, they set the country asunder.

It is such that it will take Niger the next 30 years to recover from the devasta- tion of war. Look at what they did to Gaddafi of Libya. They claimed that his people were guilty of the Lockerbie plane attack for which sanc- tions were placed against Libya. He was not allowed to travel out of his country. He lived with all the threats; they killed his daughter in an attack on the presidential palace. There was also the issue of the border town of Ouzo along the Chad and Libyan border.

Indeed, Libya was militarily ten times stronger than Chad but because of the European and American interest, Chad was supported with big war artillery and logistics to fight Libya. We should not allow any war between Nigeria and our neighbours. The west and America are waiting for the smallest oppor- tunities to attack and destabilise Nigeria. We should not allow that. By the grace of God Almighty Nigeria will be and they will never be able to destroy our country.

Look at what happened in South Africa with the way the West and America have openly backed the Apartheid. In the end with all the pressure they had no choice but to let go of the racists. They are still not happy with South Africa. They are only protecting the investments of the whites in the country, the reason why they allowed it to be. As for Nigeria which they know to be blessed with a lot of resources, most of which are left untapped.

For this reason, Nigeria must be very careful not to fall victim to exploitation and attack by the west and America. Apart from this, if you look at what happened between Iran and Iraq, they wanted to use Iraq to destroy Iran even as Iran was four times stronger than Iraq. They supported Iraq against Iran in a war at Chattily Arab where many people lost their lives. The Ayatollah of Iran changed his plan following the unprecedented number of lives lost and sought dialogue.

This dialogue stopped the war and protected the Iranian regime from fall. The West and America were not happy about this and they decided to destroy Iraq which they have loaded up with military machinery to be used in bringing down Iran but it has not worked. They concocted lies against the Saddam Hussein led regime that he had nuclear weapon. The British government claimed they apprehended ship carrying uranium to Iraq. With these and many concocted lies they entered Iraq and brought down Sad- dam Hussein.

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