Ajuri Ngelale, special adviser to President Bola Tinubu on media and publicity, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is determined to ensure that democratic rule returns to Niger Republic.
Ngelale spoke during an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday evening, while reacting to concerns that Niger’s junta had defied the ECOWAS deadline.
ECOWAS had threatened the use of force if the junta did not adhere to the deadline which elapsed on Sunday.
Ngelale said narratives bordering on ECOWAS’ ability to restore order in Niger are merely speculative.
He said the bloc’s additional sanctions on the landlocked West African country are proof that the commission is focused on a diplomatic approach before resorting to the use of force as a last option.
Tinubu, ECOWAS chairperson, earlier asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to impose financial sanctions on individuals and entities believed to be supporting the military junta in the Francophone country.
“Let us be clear, there has been a firm ultimatum that was based on a mandate that has been backed by ECOWAS protocols which have been in place for years and the ECOWAS member heads of state will not back down from upholding the protocols as agreed by all member states,” Ngelale said.
“We will be fully committed as we have been throughout this process to upholding the ECOWAS protocols with respect to how the ECOWAS member states will handle the illegitimate overthrow of constitutional order in any of the ECOWAS member states.
“We are determined to ensure that civilian democratic governance is sustained on the continent for the prosperity, security, and development of the countries on our beloved continent.
“We are not taking the kind of simplistic approach that some international media have chosen to take which is that ‘either you must go in or you’re not serious or you stay out and you’re not serious,’ we do not accept that simple narrative.
“What we are saying is that we have multiple levers on which we can leverage to achieve the end that we are seeking to achieve which is to uphold the ECOWAS protocols by ensuring that there is a return of civilian democratic rule under the leadership of President Bazoum as duly elected by the people of Niger Republic.
“Now, whether that happens today or next week or next month we will see, but we are determined to leverage on all elements of our power regionally to ensure that happens and that is not limited only to military intervention.
“Although military intervention has not and will not be taken off the table.”
ECOWAS is expected to meet on Thursday to draw up a plan on how it will proceed.