Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has counseled President Bola Tinubu and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that they still have enough room to dialogue with leaders of the Niger coup.
George gave the advice while speaking in an interview with Arise Television on Tuesday morning, noting that the president should first consider Nigeria’s national interest as a determinant in sending troops to the French-speaking country.
He said: “When they meet tomorrow, I am advising that there’s enough room for dialogue, and the underlining crisis that is engaging all these francophone countries today dates back to the French approach to their own system of colonialism.
“While the British had colonies, the French had the principle of assimilation. In other words, they didn’t let go. There’s no French country in the whole of Africa where the French government does not have a minimum of a battalion stationed there.’
George, a retired Naval officer, added: “You learn from your experiences. We were in ECOMOG, which was the country that was responsible militarily, financially, and personnel-wise for the armed forces. We did extremely well; what was the benefit to Nigeria?
“Before you consider going to war as a nation, you teach your boys the national interest of your country; anything that falls out of that is not a major concern to you, but if anybody infringes on your national interest, then you can go to war because you are going there to defend something so vital to your country.
“Learning from the ECOMOG experience, how can we now go to Niger? What is the benefit? My appeal is that the ECOWAS heads of state should be more careful. The Ukraine-Russia war today has lingered on for over a year; they are still fighting, and innocent people are dying. War is not a tea party, and it is better to jaw-jaw than war-war.
“I am talking from experience and the fact that Niger is not the only country in the whole geo-political belt of the francophone countries that has a military administration, from Guinea to Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan. That takes you from the west Atlantic all the way to the Red Sea, right across the whole belt of Africa in the Sahara. Why Niger?” he said.
Ripples Nigeria recalls that George had earlier warned President Tinubu to think twice before declaring war on the Niger Republic.
He gave the warning in a letter he personally wrote to the President, stating that it was better for him to continue the diplomatic channel instead of embarking on a “needless war.”
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