Niger: Nobody is interested in war – Tinubu tells Islamic council
President Bola Tinubu on Thursday said all diplomatic options would be exhausted with the military junta in Niger Republic before any last resort of military intervention would come into the picture, insisting that any forceful removal of a democratic government remained “wholly unacceptable,” a statement by the State House said.
Receiving the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar III, at the State House, President Tinubu noted that the alternative of kinetic intervention in Niger Republic had not been jettisoned.
“I must thank you for your several visits to Niger Republic, Your Eminence, but you will still have to go back. My fear has been confirmed in Gabon that copycats will start doing the same thing until it is stopped. We are neighbours with Niger Republic, and what has joined Nigerians together with their great people cannot be broken. Nobody is interested in a war. We have seen the devastation in Ukraine and Sudan. But, if we don’t wield the big stick, we will all suffer the consequences together,” the President warned.
President Tinubu noted that Nigeria, under General Abdulsalami Abubakar, instituted a nine-month transition programme in 1998, and it proved very successful, leading the country into a new era of democratic governance. The President said he saw no reason why such could not be replicated in Niger, if their military authorities were sincere.
Your Eminence, please don’t get tired, you will still go back there. The soldiers’ action is unacceptable. The earlier they made positive adjustments, the quicker we will dial back the sanctions to alleviate the sufferings we are seeing in Niger,” the President affirmed.
On the hardship faced by many Nigerians post-fuel subsidy removal, the President assured that all ongoing reforms would liberate and reposition the economy, which would benefit the majority of the population in terms of opportunities, infrastructure, healthcare and education.
“Nigeria is headed for a promise. Our diversity will turn into prosperity, not adversity. We will build a country that our children will be proud of,” the President says.
The President told the delegation that the Federal Government had opened talks with the state governments to provide land for the proper sustenance of animals with a view to developing pan-national animal husbandry and agro-allied production and processing facilities for mass export, job creation and revenue generation.
“If Nigeria is still looking for vaccines for basic health issues; if infant and maternal mortality are rampant, then we should examine ourselves. I will commit to consulting with other leaders, like the NSCIA, and we will meet the needs of our people,” he said.
In his contribution at the meeting, Vice President Kashim Shettima said the President had budgeted N50 billion to support the ongoing rebuilding of lives and property in the North- West and North-East, and with a new focus on dialogue to address security challenges.
The Sultan of Sokoto pledged “one hundred per cent loyalty” to the President, affirming that a leader can only reach a position by the will of God, and not man.
His Eminence assured the President that the NSCIA would be available to advise and support President Tinubu to realise his dream for the country, adding that “God will hold all leaders to account, in justice and fairness.”
He suggested that the distribution of palliatives across the country should be monitored and augmented, where it fails to reach some of the people in dire need.
“I honestly believe we will come out of the challenges stronger,” the Sultan of Sokoto concluded.