In an article published on January 9th, 2019 signed by Abubakar Uba Mohammed, entitled: “Does Niger Republic undermine Nigeria’s interests?” the author has freely attacked Niger Republic Government with backdrop of untruth and misleading allusions.
At first glance, the article raises two observations in its form. The first one is that the title is formulated in an interrogative form, which proves that the author is uncertain of the assertions, thus without any foundation to support his article. If he was certain of his assertions, he would have been rather affirmative.
The second one is that the article is not supported by any formal proof. This means that anyone, provided that he has the intention of damaging our good relations, could afford to make incredible statements.
Thus, Niger Republic Government, firmly committed to Press Freedom as well as Freedom of Speech, would not have reacted to this publication in accordance with its principles of tolerance with regard to the third parties’ opinions including those most impertinent, if the offending article did not tend to abuse the readers’ good faith and mislead them.
Fraternity and solidarity between Nigerian and Niger peoples, between the two countries’ governments have never been denied because our destiny is intimately linked. What affects Nigeria, affects Niger too and vice versa.
Therefore, there is no reason for the Niger Republic Government to be interfering in the choice of the Nigerian sovereign people concerning their presidential election of February 16 2019. This is neither in its principles nor in its methods.
The Nigerian people are knowledgeable people, and are fully aware of democratic issues to the point where nothing and no one can influence their choice in favour of one candidate or another, of one political tendency or another.
Obviously, the author of the article lacks knowledge of Nigeria’s democratic reality that he claims to defend. He also does not know the level and quality of relationship existing between our two peoples, our two governments and even less so between our two Heads of State, namely their Excellencies ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU and MUHAMADU BUHARI.
Is it necessary to remind that President Buhari has honoured and showed his friendship to Niger people by attending personally the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Niger Republic held on December 18th, 2018 in Zinder?
Is it also necessary to remind that the Niger Republic President, His Excellency ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU has regularly and spontaneously attended many events organized by Nigeria?
On the opposite to the author’s claims, Nigerian businessmen and companies are absolutely free to invest in Niger and take back their profits not only because they are at home in Niger but also because Niger Republic Government has been working for a long time to create an attractive and secure business environment for domestic and foreign investment.
Many Nigerian businessmen and companies have felt comfortable and had good experience. Dangote is an illustration. He supplies Niger with cement, and he is the one who is given the authorisation to exploit cement at Keita in the north of the country.
We can also cite Dahirou Mangal who has been conveying from Niger local pilgrims to the Holy Places of Islam for some years now. They are therefore living witnesses to the fact that in Niger, investments are well-protected because we have created an adequate legal and judicial environment for this purpose. There are so many other very illustrating examples of Nigerian investors or Nigerian traders who supply Niger with various products. Along our long and common border, people have family ties that confabulations contained in this article cannot change.
It is Nigeria that provides our country with most of its electricity needs. Six months ago, our two Heads of State signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of common energy infrastructures, such as oil pipelines and refineries for the welfare of our people.
It is quite obvious, and this rule applies to both Niger people and others, that service providers who are failing in the execution of agreements they sign with the State of Niger, are invited to draw the consequences of their inability to honour their commitments. Settlement of all legal disputes is amicable in accordance with the regulations in force in Niger.
The author of this article unfortunately confuses some vested interests to those of Nigeria. This is the reason why he insidiously seeks to stigmatize the good relationship between Niger and Nigeria, their respective Governments and peoples based on specious arguments.
He is wasting his time because these relationships will be further strengthened because we have common challenges like the fight against Boko Haram terrorists where, thanks to the combination of our human and material resources, we have managed to increase the power of our Joint Forces.
We will defeat Boko Haram as we defeated with the Federal Government of Nigeria, those who dreamed of Nigeria partition in the late 1960s.
It must also be clearly understood that our principles are based on good neighbourly relations between two countries linked by history, geography and trade.
It is therefore completely wrong to think that the Government, particularly the President of Niger Republic, has taken steps to interfere in the electoral process in Nigeria.
In the light of the foregoing, Niger Republic Government categorically denies the allegations contained in the article published by the newspaper Opinion (Nigeria) signed by Abubakar Uba Mohammed.
It restates its firm commitment to work more, as it always does, to strengthen relations between our two peoples who share a common destiny.
We do hope that this denial will be brought to notice to make readers aware of the offending article, to restore the truth in accordance with the principles that govern the profession of journalism.
* Abdourahaman Zakaria is the Minister Spokesperson of the Niger Republic Government.