President Bola Tinubu took action on Thursday by dispatching two separate delegations to address the crisis in Niger Republic. One team, led by Nigerian diplomat Babagana Kingibe, was sent to engage with leaders of Libya and Algeria, while another, headed by former Nigerian Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, was tasked with swiftly resolving the ongoing political deadlock in Niger.
In his capacity as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Tinubu charged both delegations with the imperative of engaging all stakeholders rigorously to ensure a conclusive and harmonious resolution of the situation in Niger. He emphasized the importance of pursuing African peace and development, steering clear of adopting the geopolitical positions of other nations.
“We don’t want to hold brief for anybody. Our concern is democracy and the peace of the region,” stated the Nigerian President during the briefing.
Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, speaking on behalf of his delegation, conveyed their mandate to meet with the coup leaders in Niger and present ECOWAS leadership’s demands. Their message emphasized the dissatisfaction of regional Heads of State with the coup and urged the coupists to relinquish power to the elected President within a specified timeframe.
Babagana Kingibe, leading the delegation to Libya and Algeria, underlined the significance of solidarity and coordination in addressing the crisis. He highlighted the importance of engaging neighboring nations in the north of Niger to stimulate support and cooperation.
“Our mission is to go there with a message from President Tinubu; to brief them on the ECOWAS position and solicit solidarity and cooperation,” Kingibe stated.
Both delegations expressed optimism about achieving a diplomatic solution and averting military intervention. They aimed to foster dialogue and peaceful resolution, acknowledging the shared cultural, linguistic, and religious ties between the nations involved.
The delegations, which included key figures like the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, are expected to report back to the State House before the one-week ultimatum set by ECOWAS for the Niger coupists to reinstate the ousted President.
In response to the crisis, former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar advocated for diplomatic engagement to resolve the situation. He commended ECOWAS for its role and cautioned against military action, emphasizing the need for sustained dialogue.
“The crisis in the Republic of Niger requires diplomatic engagements, and that must mean that the channels for dialogue should be well sustained,” Atiku stated in his personal statement.