As the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met on Thursday in respect of the Niger crisis, Daniel Bwala, a lawyer and spokesperson of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) has said that diplomacy rather than ground standing will restore democracy in Niger.
The lawyer in an interview on Thursday said that ECOWAS opted for threats before initiating diplomacy.
Bwala said, “When you’re leading and nobody is following, you are simply taking a walk. This is the situation that the ECOWAS is in at the moment. As we speak the American government has not designated what happened in Niger as a military coup because if it did, the U.S government is expected by its law to cease all military assistance, technical support and diplomatic relations.
“The French government hasn’t taken any measure comparable or commensurate with what ECOWAS did. The problem that we have with ECOWAS is diplomacy. ECOWAS rolled out threats before initiating diplomacy.
“There are facts that ECOWAS must come to terms with, number one is that the Niger military junta must not bow to its threat and sanction because it appears they’ve moved on, even the ousted president was reported to have signed his resignation and has moved on.
“Number two, the military action may cause a complex situation that may escalate to war, that may be called the Africa spring, you remember the Arab spring. If that happens even the leaders of ECOWAS states might be removed from power.
“Number three, is that diplomacy, not ground standing, is the only option to return to democracy in Niger. Even the process that will enable return to civil rule will last up to a year and half because it will require the conduct of elections.
“Africa must reset its relationship with the West, for mutual and shared benefit. The idea of a puppet relationship will no longer be accepted by the civil populace in Africa.
“The political leaders and public officers must be accountable to their people. They must conduct elections that will reflect the wishes of the people, while respecting the rights of minorities.
“There is a lack of confidence by the civil populace in Africa, even on their leadership which is why if you come to a country like Nigeria and you look at the head of ECOWAS, that is the President, he is leading and no one is following.
“He appears not to have the constitutional backing to engage militarily in Niger or using the Nigerian armed forces. If you look at section 5 it is quite clear. Even with section 5 (5) where you can engage in special operations, he doesn’t have what will qualify him to engage because there is no military attack against the territorial integrity of Nigeria, against Nigeria interest or against the people of Nigeria,” he said.
“He also doesn’t enjoy the popular support of the people to engage. There is no part of Nigeria at the moment, if you talk to people that will get their support to take military action.
“If you go to Lagos as we speak, if you take a poll in the constituency where the President comes from, whether they will support a military engagement, I am telling you that the majority of the people will not support military action. So, the question to ask is whose brief is Mr. President holding? That is why ECOWAS is at the logjam at the moment having seen pitfalls in their policies,” Bwala said.
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