In a significant development amid the ongoing crisis in Niger, the President of Nigeria and the current leader of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Bola Tinubu, has hinted at the possibility of a transition in Niger “if the military authorities in Niamey demonstrate sincerity.” These remarks were conveyed through a press release issued by the Nigerian presidency following a meeting between Bola Tinubu and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria.
President Tinubu has consistently emphasized that the use of force remains the last resort. “No one is interested in war,” he stated during his meeting with Islamic leaders on Thursday.
Furthermore, President Tinubu drew a parallel with the nine-month transition period that took place in Nigeria in the late 1990s. According to the presidential statement, Bola Tinubu “sees no reason why Niger cannot do the same if the military authorities are genuinely committed to it.” This statement has generated considerable attention, as ECOWAS had to clarify that there is no established “transition timetable,” despite Nigeria being perceived as one of the driving forces behind a potential military intervention in Niger.
It is important to note that President Bola Tinubu’s recent statement does not signify a complete departure from Nigeria’s stance, as affirmed by the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs in a BBC interview conducted in the Hausa language. Minister Yusuff Tugar reiterated that ECOWAS does not rule out the use of force as an option to address the crisis. However, he did reveal that he had held discussions with the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, although the notion of a transition, as advocated by Algeria, was not discussed.
On Thursday, President Bola Tinubu made it clear that there would be no easing of sanctions as long as the Nigerien military persists in their actions, which he deems “unacceptable.” He emphasized, “If we do not wield a big stick, we will all suffer the consequences.”