•Nigeria’s leader says he is holding ECOWAS back

…tells Nigerians: ‘ Your country’s interest paramount’

President Bola Tinubu and his United States (US) counterpart, Mr Joe Biden, may meet to discuss military intervention in Niger Republic among the options available to the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) to restore democratic rule in that country.

This came to light yesterday after the US Special President Envoy and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Molly Phee, visited Tinubu in Abuja and extended Biden’s “exclusive invitation” to meet the Nigerian President on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City to advance discussions further (on the Niger crisis) in late September.

ECOWAS has been in the forefront of the regional efforts to dislodge the Niger Republic coup leaders who ousted President Bazoum last month.

Tinubu is the Chairman of ECOWAS.

Among others measures to force the coup leaders to quit, the regional body has slammed sanctions on Niger Republic while Nigeria cut off electricity supplies to the neighbouring country.

“We know there is more we can do to incentivize large-scale American investment in Nigeria and we are committed to working closely with you to achieve that, as part of efforts to strengthen the Nigerian economy and the regional economy. We appreciate your willingness to create an enabling environment for that. President Joe Biden is asking to meet with you on the sidelines of UNGA and you are the only African leader he has requested to meet. It is a mark of his high regard for your leadership,” a statement by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, quoted the U.S. Special Envoy as saying.

Tinubu, on his part, accepted the invitation, saying the work of perfecting democracy is never done, even in developed democracies, as seen recently in America, as well as other emerging democracies in the world.

The Nigerian President earlier said he will only advance the interest of the Nigerian state in his approach toward ECOWAS’ handling of the regional standoff.

He also advised Phee to ensure that U.S. policy is intentionally collaborative with independent African democracies at a time when they are under assault by anti-democratic forces within and outside of the continent.

Tinubu noted that American-backed development finance and multilateral institutions, which were designed to support war-torn Europe after World War II, require swift and comprehensive reform to meet the developmental requirements of younger democracies in Africa, which operate in authoritarian-crowded environments, such that the legitimate yearnings of Africans would no longer be manipulated to serve the narrow aims of self-seeking demagogues through unconstitutional takeovers of power.

“Yes, the private sector will lead the way within an enabling environment we create for them, but the U.S. Government must be innovative in its thinking and systematically create incentives for U.S. industrial investment in Nigeria. Under my leadership, Nigeria stands ready to address their specific regulatory, tax and environmental concerns. I am determined to create prosperity for all Nigerian families, “ he stated.

The Nigerian leader affirmed that the crisis in Niger Republic would not deter him from concluding his economic reform programme successfully for the benefit of Nigerians and that he takes a cue from no nation, but will only advance the interest of the Nigerian state in his approach toward ECOWAS’ handling of the regional standoff.

“We are deep in our attempts to peacefully settle the issue in Niger by leveraging on our diplomatic tools. I continue to hold ECOWAS back, despite its readiness for all options, in order to exhaust all other remedial mechanisms. War is not ideal for my economic reforms, nor for the region, but the defense of democracy is sacrosanct.

T”he ECOWAS consensus is that we will not allow anyone to insincerely buy time,” the ECOWAS Chairman affirmed.

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