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Advocacy Letter On Niger Republic To President Tinubu

Advocacy Letter On Niger Republic To President Tinubu

7th December, 2023

His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Chairman, ECOWAS Authority of the Heads of States and Government

Presidential Villa

Aso Rock,

Abuja- Nigeria

Your Excellency,

APPEAL FOR THE EASING OF SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON THE REPUBLIC OF NIGER

The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) hereby extends its heartfelt congratulations on your election and affirmation as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Your victory is a testament to your exceptional leadership and the trust placed in you by the Nigerian people. Furthermore, WACSOF would like to express its warmest wishes on your appointment as the Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. This recognition reflects your remarkable influence and dedication in promoting regional cooperation and development in West Africa.

Your Excellency, we write to you today with heightened concern over the grave effects of the range of international sanctions imposed on the Republic of Niger by ECOWAS following the coup d’état of 26th July 2023. We note that these sanctions have brought untold hardships to the teeming citizens of Niger republic. As the institutionalized umbrella of civil society organizations across the region, endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), we consider ourselves a platform for civil society organizations only, but as forum for the articulation of the voice and aspirations of the entire citizens of West Africa. It is part of our statutory mandate to contribute a quota, through constructive advocacy, towards entrenching peace, stability, and prosperity in West Africa.

The decision to address this matter stems from the request of our members in Niger and across the entire region to intervene in the matter. (We note that a similar communication has been transmitted to the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, physically.) Following the request of our members in Niger, we convene a civil society regional roundtable discussion under the theme The Implications of International Sanctions on Development and Democratic Consolidation in the Republic of Niger, on Tuesday, 28th November 2023. The meeting was held in collaboration with 21 civil society organizations, led by the Mouvement des Jeunnes pour le Development et l’Education Citoyenne MOJEDEC of the republic of Niger. In all, the roundtable discussion enjoyed a rich participation of over 40 civil society representatives, along with experts and activists from across West Africa and beyond. Participants at the meeting passionately discussed the adverse effects that these sanctions have had on the people of Niger, as well as their implications to regional integration in West Africa.

We fully acknowledge that the imposition of sanctions is a tool often utilized to address human rights violations, democratic deficiencies, or threats to regional security, in this case the unconstitutional seizure of power by a group of the country’s military leaders and the arrest and detention of His Excellency, Mohammed Bazoum, democratically elected as President of the Republic of Niger. We understand that sanctions of this nature are meant to produce positive results in the form of agreements with the Military Junta on a roadmap for a quick handover of power to a democratically elected government. However, from our observations so far, the Junta in Niger has neither agreed to such a roadmap, while negotiations between the Junta in Niger and ECOWAS have completely broken down. In essence, therefore, the effects of these sanctions, which continue to remain in place, manifest only in the form of adverse effects on the lives and livelihoods of Nigeriens. Your Excellency, allow me at this point to recount an African proverb which goes thus: “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

Meanwhile, we note that the current economic and financial sanctions namely the closure of all the borders, the suspension of economic and business transactions, the freezing of the country’s assets and the option of a military action against Niger have severely impacted the livelihoods of ordinary Nigeriens, amplifying their struggles and depriving them of basic human dignity. The shortage of essential goods, limited access to financial services, and reduced trade opportunities have led to an increase in poverty and want, exacerbating the already fragile socio-economic fabric of the country and the long subsisting humanitarian challenge as a result of environmental and climate-linked challenges. As a matter of fact, given that Niger is a land-locked country, the effects of these sanctions, especially its economic component, will have consequences that directly affect intra-regional trade between Niger and several countries in the region, including Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. Such a condition of increased fragility can also create conditions for the myriad of long-running security challenges in the country to thrive thus directly contributing to instability within Niger. No doubt, these sanctions have an undermining effect on regional integration within the ECOWAS region entirely.

Your Excellency, we have reasons to believe that the continuation of sanctions against Niger in their current form, without a clear roadmap for meaningful dialogue or mutually beneficial solutions, may serve only to defeat its own purposes. We therefore wish to humbly urge, Your Excellency, in your esteemed position as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government, to use your influence and diplomatic prowess to initiate a dialogue aimed at finding a sustainable resolution to the issues affecting Niger. We humbly request that you champion the cause for the adoption of the following decisions by the Authority of Heads of State and Government:

  1. Easing of the economic and financial sanctions imposed on the Republic of Niger immediately as an act of good faith towards bringing members of the military Junta to the negotiation table
  2. Mandating the ECOWAS Commission to, despite the existence of diplomatic sanctions, continue to provide full technical support to Niger’s public institutions and agencies for the effective implementation of programs relevant to regional integration and development in West Africa
  3. Continuing to explore the option of dialogue and mediation by community leaders and citizen groups (including civil society) across the region, in line with the spirit and letters of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) and the ECOWAS Vision 2050

Furthermore, Your Excellency, allow me to use this opportunity to state WACSOF’s commitment to the ideals of democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law as constituting the basis on which the stability and development of West Africa can best be guaranteed. We firmly believe that constructive dialogue is the best option for the restoration of stability and democratic order in Niger. We offer our utmost support to ECOWAS in its efforts to address the challenges faced by its Member States and stand ready to contribute meaningfully to any processes that fosters peace, stability, and shared progress within the region.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. We strongly hope that, with your intervention along the path that we have humbly suggested, the socio-economic conditions in Niger shall improve, the General Abdourahamane Tiani-led Military Junta will return to the negotiation table and ultimately, a clear path back to democratic order in Niger will be initiated.

Please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.

Yours sincerely,

Kop’ep Dabugat

General Secretary

West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)

CC :

  1. Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria, Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers
  2. Hon. President, ECOWAS Commission
  3. Hon. ECOWAS Commissioner Political Affairs, Peace and Security

Attachments:

Advocacy Document: Ref: 0393-2023/DE/MOJEDEC, Subject: Plaidoyer pour une sortie de crise au Niger:              

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Advocacy Letter On Niger Republic To President Tinubu - WACSOFOSCAO