“The Senate urges the President of Nigeria, in his capacity as ECOWAS President, to encourage and strengthen political and diplomatic capacity to break the deadlock in Niger,” the Nigerian Senate President told local press.
The head of Niger’s powerful presidential guard, General Abdurahman Tchiani, declared himself the country’s new leader last week. At an emergency summit on Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gave Tchiani a week to reinstate Bazum and threatened to use force if demands were not met. As reported on Thursday, the Niger army has refused to comply with this ultimatum, which expires on August 6.
After several hours of deliberations on Saturday, the upper house of the Nigerian National Assembly rejected the president’s request. The senators instructed the head of state to explore other political and diplomatic voices to find a way out of the situation in Niger. Lawmakers fear that military intervention will wreak havoc in the neighboring country, with which Nigeria shares a border of almost 1,500 kilometers.
This Senate decision reinforces the position of the Nigerian opposition, which considers the operation “useless and unreasonable”, according to experts.
“Nigeria cannot afford to waste its scarce resources and the precious lives of our soldiers. A new front could plunge the fragile economy into an even deeper crisis,” an opposition spokesman told Actu Kameroun.
It remains to be seen if other ECOWAS countries will move forward without Nigeria, which not only leads this community, but also has the most powerful military in this region of West Africa.