BY Claire Mom
Nasir el-Rufai, former governor of Kaduna, has cautioned the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against military intervention in Niger Republic.
President Bola Tinubu, chairperson of ECOWAS, said the bloc had resolved to use force as a last option if the coup leaders in Niger do not relinquish power to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
Last Thursday, after a meeting of the bloc’s defence chiefs in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, ECOWAS said it had begun the activation of its standby force in Niger.
Although the defence chiefs had backed calls for dialogue as a mediation tactic, the group said all elements that would go into any military intervention had been worked out and were being refined.
This included the timing, resources needed and how, where and the day to deploy such force.
In a tweet on Tuesday, el-Rufai said a war within the sub-region would be a war between brothers.
“As ECOWAS beats the drums of war, I recall the 1970s rock classic by Dire Straits – ‘Brothers in Arms’, because a war within our subregion is a war between brothers,” el-Rufai tweeted.
“Indeed, the people of Niger Republic are one and the same with those living in Northern Nigeria. Let us bend therefore over backwards to avoid this civil war between brothers.”
El-Rufai’s call to avoid military intervention in Niger is the latest from stakeholders in Nigeria’s northern region.
The Northern Senators Forum (NSF) had also asked Tinubu to exhaust all diplomatic means in resolving the crisis.
The forum warned that deploying Nigerian troops to Niger Republic will hurt seven northern states — Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno — who share borders with the landlocked West African nation.
Shortly after their warning, Tinubu met with governors of five of the states as part of his wider consultations on how best to address the situation.