At its virtual extraordinary session on Saturday on the political situation in Niger, the Ecowas Parliament, under Speaker Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has set up a mediation committee that is to visit Niger in a bid to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
The Committee to be headed by Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, 1st Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, includes Memounatou Ibrahima, 3rd Deputy Speaker; Adja Satu Camara Pinto, 4th Deputy Speaker; Edwin Melvin Snowe Jr., Liberia; Fatoumatta Njai, The Gambia; Woraye Sarr, Senegal; Veronica Kadie Sesay, Sierra Leone; Mohamed Ali Ndume, Nigeria; Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, Ghana; Herve Aka, Cote d’Ivoire; Orlando Pereira Dias, Cabo Verde; and Nassirou Bako Arifari, Benin.
The Committee also expects to meet Bola Tinubu, Chair of the Ecowas Authority, before their subsequent visit to Niger.
The session comes barely two days after the Ecowas leaders called for the activation of the Ecowas standby force for deployment to Niger to restore constitutional order following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum by the Presidential Guards led by Abdourahmane Tchiani on 26th July.
During long hours of discussion, the Ecowas Parliamentarians were divided over the decision to use military intervention in Niger. Most of them suggest diplomacy over military intervention and call for ease of sanctions, as the people are suffering. They suggest the sanctions should be limited to the Junta.
Hon. Idris Wase of Nigeria and first deputy speaker of the Ecowas Parliament believes any war in Niger will hurt Nigeria, which shares a 1,600-kilometer-long border with Niger.
“The use of military force has never solved any problem; hence dialogue should be explored,” added Mohammed Karbeer Garba, second deputy Speaker of the Community Parliament.
As part of the sanctions, Nigeria has cut off electricity supply to Nigeria, which Ali Ndume, a member of the Parliament from Nigeria, condemned, adding that any military deployment to Niger by Nigeria without parliamentary approval is against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Honorable Salou Djibo from Niger stressed using dialogue as he informed the session that the sanctions imposed on his country are already taking their toll on the ordinary Nigeriens.
Hon. Adebayo Balogun has different views from his colleagues. He said there is a difference between intervening militarily to dislodge a military junta and declaring war on a country. For him, Ecowas is simply intervening against the coup leaders from taking power.
Billay Tunkara of The Gambia said there is a need for a bold step to end a military coup in the sub-region. He supports the use of force if all dialogue fails.
The Junta in Niger shows no sign of compromise, as it snubs envoys on the crisis. Tchiani has already formed a new government led by Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, Niger’s former Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and resident representative of the African Development Bank in Chad, Ivory Coast, and Gabon.