President Bola Tinubu on Thursday said the fear he had about putschists in Niger setting a bad precedent across the continent has been confirmed by the removal of President Ali Bongo of Gabon.
On Wednesday, soldiers struck in Gabon, annulling the recently concluded election and ending the 13-year reign of Bongo, who succeeded his father in 2009.
Speaking while receiving the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the State House, Abuja, Tinubu said all diplomatic options will be exhausted with the military junta in Niger Republic before any last resort of military intervention comes into the picture.
He insisted that any forceful removal of a democratic government remains “wholly unacceptable.”
“I must thank you for your several visits to Niger Republic, Your Eminence, but you will still have to go back. My fear has been confirmed in Gabon that copy cats will start doing the same thing until it is stopped. We are neighbours with Niger Republic, and what has joined Nigerians together with their great people cannot be broken. Nobody is interested in a war. We have seen the devastation in Ukraine and Sudan. But, if we don’t wield the big stick, we will all suffer the consequences together,” the President warned.
Tinubu noted that Nigeria, under General Abdulsalami Abubakar, instituted a nine-month transition programme in 1998, and it proved very successful, leading the country into a new era of democratic governance. The President sees no reason why such can not be replicated in Niger, if Niger’s military authorities are sincere.
“Your Eminence, please don’t get tired, you will still go back there. The soldiers’ action is unacceptable. The earlier they make positive adjustments, the quicker we will dial back the sanctions to alleviate the sufferings we are seeing in Niger,” the President affirmed.
On the hardship faced by many Nigerians post-fuel subsidy removal, the President assured that all ongoing reforms will liberate and reposition the economy, which will benefit the majority of the population in terms of opportunities, infrastructure, healthcare and education.
“Nigeria is headed for a promise. Our diversity will turn into prosperity, not adversity. We will build a country that our children will be proud of,” the President assured.
The President told the delegation that the Federal Government had opened talks with State Governments to provide land for the proper sustenance of animals with a view to developing pan-national animal husbandry and agro-allied production and processing facilities for mass export, job creation and revenue generation.
“If Nigeria is still looking for vaccines for basic health issues; if infant and maternal mortality is rampant, then we should examine ourselves. I will commit to consulting with other leaders, like the NSCIA, and we will meet the needs of our people,” he said.
In his contribution at the meeting, Vice President Kashim Shettima said the President had budgeted N50 billion to support the ongoing rebuilding of lives and property in the North West and North East, and with a new focus on dialogue to address security challenges.
The Sultan of Sokoto reportedly pledged loyalty to the President, affirming that a leader can only reach a position by the will of God, and not man.
He assured the President that the NSCIA will be available to advise and support President Tinubu to realize his dream for the country, adding that “God will hold all leaders to account, in justice and fairness.”
He suggested that the distribution of palliatives across the country should be monitored and augmented, where it fails to reach some of the people who remain in dire need.
“I honestly believe we will come out of the challenges stronger,” the Sultan of Sokoto concluded.