Nigeria’s President and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, says he is the one holding back ECOWAS and other unnamed forces from invading Niger to restore constitutional order in the country despite mounting pressure.
The President, who stated this on Thursday, told Nigerian Islamic clerics led by Sheikh Bala Lau that he is at the forefront of a peaceful resolution of the crisis, even amid more hawkish individuals urging swifter intervention.
A statement by the President’s spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, quoted the President saying, “I am managing a very serious situation. If you take ECOWAS aside, other people will react, those who are outside of our control. I am the one holding those sides back. I am the one holding back ECOWAS.
”Even as of this morning, I have been inundated with phone calls on the readiness of countries with their military force and contributions. However, I told them to wait. I am meeting with the Ulamas and I will get back to you,” he said.
The Islamic clerics, who came to brief the President about their diplomatic visit to Niger Republic, told him that the military junta was open to deepening dialogue with ECOWAS as more steps are being taken to forestall armed conflict with a more detailed acceptance of the ECOWAS position by Niger military council officials.
However, President Tinubu told the Islamic delegation that the military junta must be held accountable for putting the entire people of Niger Republic in jeopardy.
”They cannot use the gun given to them to protect the sovereignty of the country and turn it against the people of the country,” he said.
He further pledged that ECOWAS will remain steadfast in its commitment to diplomatically engage with all stakeholders and seek a peaceful resolution to the impasse in Niger Republic.
“I will draw a line in the sand and ask you to make arrangements to go back to Niger Republic,” he stated.
In the same vein, the Islamic scholars appealed to the Federal Government to monitor the distribution of palliatives to States, noting that there should be transparency and accountability in the distribution and management of the palliatives.
Responding, the President said, “The people reside in the States. Even if I set up a panel, I will have to go through the governors and the local governments. We will continue to talk to the governors. Nigerians must hold them accountable.
“It’s unheard of that in a constitutional democracy; a president will sit here and give orders to States. I can only appeal to them to implement. The people reside in the states, and if the Governor is not doing well, the people must vote them out,” he concluded.
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