The organised civil society under the United Action Front of Civil Society has called on President Bola Tinubu and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to respect the wish of the citizens of Niger and avoid a needless war in the country and West Africa in general.
The group described the insistence of Nigeria-led ECOWAS on adopting military action in resolving the political crisis in the Niger Republic as mindless.
In a statement issued on Monday, the United Action Front of Civil Society said the decision of the ECOWAS Extraordinary Meeting in Abuja on Thursday, August 10, 2023, to put the military on standby was unwholesome and portends potential threats to peace across West African region.
Signed by the Head of the National Coordinating Centre, Olawale Okunniyi, the Front warned that while the restoration of constitutional order in the Niger Republic in the shortest possible time is welcomed, democracy can only endure in Niger when all parties to the prevailing crisis agree to reasonable terms in bringing about long-term peace in the country.
It said, “The United Action Front of Civil Society, therefore considers it hugely disappointing for ECOWAS to create the impression that genuine diplomacy can go along with threats of military action by way of activation of invading force against the junta in Niger Republic.
“The decision of the ECOWAS Extraordinary meeting is thus coming across as pandering to the dubious agenda of interested forces outside ECOWAS. It would thus appear that the leadership of ECOWAS is largely unpersuaded by overwhelming consensus amongst well-meaning stakeholders in Nigeria and across the sub-region who have cautioned against turning the situation in the Niger Republic into a full-scale proxy war.”
The group, however, appealed to the authorities of ECOWAS that in handling the issues, it should prioritise the interest of the civilian population of Niger, who by all indications and for whatever reasons, appear to support the military junta.
It called on the regional bloc to avoid a repeat of the Libya debacle.
The statement read: “The leadership of United Action Front of Civil Society remains convinced that the likelihood of war and instability in the Niger Republic would be counterproductive with the possibility of spiralling into long-term armed conflicts that will hurt countries of the sub-region with unintended political and socioeconomic consequences.
“While ECOWAS is under obligation to oppose the military usurpation of constitutionally elected authority in Niger and elsewhere in the West African sub-region, we cannot overemphasise that mobilisation of military response should be the last resort and should be contingent upon domestic circumstances which appear to have thrown up some complexities that should be unravelled in neighbouring Niger Republic.