Former Governor Nasir El-Rufai has warned President Bola Tinubu that any military offensive by ECOWAS forces on Niger would be interpreted as a declaration of civil conflict against the northern region of Nigeria.
This warning was conveyed through a tweet shared by Mr. El-Rufai on Tuesday morning, marking his first public statement regarding the recent political events in Niger and the responses from ECOWAS.
“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,” Mr El-Rufai said.
He added that “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.”
Mr. El-Rufai’s caution emerges subsequent to his rift with Mr. Tinubu concerning a ministerial position, occurring just weeks after ECOWAS instructed its military forces to be prepared to reinstate constitutional governance in Niger. This directive followed the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum by his own presidential guards in July.
During the second extraordinary summit on the socio-political conditions in the Republic of Niger held in Abuja on August 10, ECOWAS President Omar Alieu Touray issued an instruction for the regional coalition’s troops to be ready to take action against the distressed nation.
“We direct the committe of defence staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately,” Mr Touray said, adding that the action was to “restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.”
Mr Tinubu, the ECOWAS chair, at the summit pointed out that the ongoing political crisis in Niger Republic was a threat to the stability of Nigeria and other West African countries.