Former Kaduna Central lawmaker, Shehu Sani has urged the Senate not to approve any military action against the Niger Republic.
Reno Omokri, socio-political commentator and former presidential aide, on the other hand urged those in the opposition to come together and support President Bola Tinubu in his fight against the unrest in the afflicted nation.
Information Nigeria reports that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had officially briefed the National Assembly on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) proposed military action and other penalties against the coup plotters in the Niger Republic.
The brief was contained in a letter to the Senate and read during plenary by Senate President, Godswill Akpabio.
“Following the unfortunate political situation in Niger Republic culminating in the overthrow of its President, ECOWAS under my leadership condemned the coup in its entirety and resolved to seek the return of the democratically elected government,” Tinubu said.
In the letter, Tinubu informed the upper chamber that sanctions, including freezing utility services and closing land borders with the Niger Republic, were imposed on the neighbouring West African country at an emergency meeting after its coup.
“Blockade of goods in transit to Niger, especially from Lagos and eastern seaports Embarking on sensitisation of Nigerians and Nigerians on the imperative of these actions, particularly via social media. Military build-up and deployment of personnel for military intervention to enforce compliance of the military junta in Niger should they remain recalcitrant,” the President added.
In reaction, Sani who warned the Senate against approving Tinubu’s request, advised the President not to be misled by foreign powers.
The former lawmaker insisted that diplomatic measures should be employed in combating the unrest in Niger.
“The Nigerian Senate should NOT approve any military action against Niger Republic. This country should not be plunged into war and eventually stuck in war in the Sahel. President Tinubu shouldn’t allow himself to be misled by foreign powers. Saudi in Yemen, America in Afghanistan, and now Russia in Ukraine should teach us a lesson that war doesn’t end in days, weeks or months.
“Senators should weigh the implications and consequences of their decisions, especially those senators representing states along the Niger Border.
“Weaponising electricity supplies to Niger is also condemnable.
“President Tinubu should continue to explore diplomatic channels and save the lives of those who will be sacrificed. That’s my view,” Sani wrote via Twitter.
Omokri, on his part, praised ECOWAS under the leadership of Tinubu, for shutting down electricity, enforcing a No-Fly-Zone and shutting land borders as a way of asserting itself to defend democracy in the embattled country.
He opined that the coup plotters are already feeling the effect of the stringent measures, adding that it is the reason for the anti-Tinubu protests in Niamey.
Speaking further, Omokri argued that if former President Muhammadu Buhari had been as democratically assertive as this, there would still be democratically elected governments in Burkina Faso and Mali.
“No matter what you think of President Tinubu, you must admit that the steps taken by his administration in response to the coup in Niger Republic are thus far commendable. It may not even be Tinubu. It is more likely his top notch National Security Adviser, but it does not matter. At least, he had the good judgment to appoint him.
“For the first time, ECOWAS is asserting itself to defend democracy. And Nigeria is leading that defence. Shutting down power to Niger, establishing and enforcing a No-Fly-Zone. Cutting aid and shutting land borders. Very commendable.
“And make no mistake about it. The Nigerienne putschists are feeling the squeeze. That is why they are sponsoring anti-Tinubu protests in Niamey. That is important. They are not sponsoring anti-Bazoum protests. They are sponsoring anti-Tinubu demonstrations because they know he threatens their dictatorial ambitions. That is novel in West Africa.
“If Buhari had been as diplomatically assertive as this, there would still be democratically elected governments in Burkina Faso and Mali.
“Every Nigerian citizen, especially our political elite, whether in the ruling party or the opposition, has to support Tinubu’s government for this limited purpose (we will still fight him in court). Because if this coup is allowed to stand, West Africa will have accepted the domino effect of coups and soldiers in member states will get the message. Finding excuses for coups is the easiest thing in the world.
“It is possible to roll back coups. President Obasanjo did it in 2003 in São Tomé and Príncipe, a country that is not even a member of ECOWAS. And he did it in a similar mode as Bola Tinubu is currently doing.
“Shut electric supply. Shut finances going in and out. Block land borders. And then wait. The solidarity celebrations you are seeing are staged. By the time it becomes clear that the junta cannot pay its soldiers, the rank and file of the army will turn against it, and that is when you will see the real response of Nigeriennes to the coup. Not this choreography you are seeing now!” Omokri wrote via Instagram.
Meanwhile the Nigerian government clarified on Friday that any use of force in the Niger crisis, as proposed by ECOWAS, will be the last option while mediation continues.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Adamu Lamuwa shared this during a briefing with members of the diplomatic corps in Abuja that forceful intervention was a last-ditch effort.
“The use of force is the last resort and we hope we do not get there,” Lamuwa stated.