Niger crisis: Don urges ECOWAS to prioritise diplomatic solutions

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By Muhammad Nur Tijani

A don, Prof. Kamilu Fagge, has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to prioritise diplomatic solutions to resolve current political impasse in Niger Republic.

It will be recalled that Niger, one of the 15 member states of the ECOWAS had been enmeshed in political imbroglio sequel to Coup d’etat.

In a swift reaction, the ECOWAS imposed a series of sanctions against the junta and threatened military action if the coup leaders failed to restore the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Fagge, a lecturer with the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Kano.

He stressed the need for the Commission to embrace dialogue and diplomatic response to the situation.

“The best way is for the leaders to sit down to negotiate through diplomatic response to achieve an amicable political solution.

“In some cases, you buttress your diplomacy with a show of force but the most stable way of resolving the crisis is through dialogue.

“This is not the first time we are having similar things, there are a lot of instances when either ECOWAS, African Union (AU) or United Nations promote dialogue and negotiations between the coup leaders and the third force.

“And when you reach that conclusion sometimes it is so stable.

“The irony of it is that, in this case, many of the people who are now calling for war or intervention in Niger, actually if you look at them, they too staged coups in their countries.

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“Some were military leaders who have now ‘civilianise’, some are civilians but they staged a civilian coup by distorting the constitution, and by getting themselves into office for so many years.

“We have not exhausted all those options yet; we have to exhaust those options first before opting for war.

“And in any case, war should not be an option,” he said.

According to Fagge, people welcome democratic government because it allows for freedom of expression, and it comes about as a result of the concept of the people and also it is the people that decide who would rule them.

“Democracy is important in the eyes of the people. It is a government that engenders development. This is because it is accountable to the people, it promotes development and peace.

“Once you have people there are bound to be differences,” he said.

Fagge warned that the conflict portends serious economic implications for both the country and the region at large, adding the closure of Nigeria’s borders with Niger Republic compounded the problem of hunger and poverty among its citizens.

“Nigeriens get most of their things here and Nigeria is also bearing the brunt of this decision.

“It has been estimated that Nigeria loses not less than N13 billion every week by stopping trade with Niger.

“And there are speculations that Nigeria and Niger trade is a formal trade that accounts for over N170 billion annually.

“While the informal trade between the two countries accounts for over N580 billion annually.

“So, when you put these things together, it ranges from N900 billion to about N1 trillion that we are going to lose in terms of trade.

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“Most of the people to be affected are Nigeriens who are business people transacting all sorts of businesses with Nigeriens.

“This has serious economic implications for both countries and for the region as a whole,” he said. (NAN)

Edited by Rabiu Sani-Ali

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