President Bola Tinubu yesterday urged United States presidential envoy and assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Ambassador Molly Phee, to ensure that US policies are intentionally collaborative with independent African democracies at a time when they are under assault by anti-democratic forces within and outside the continent.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, the president 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 reforms 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 US government must be innovative in its thinking and systematically create incentives for US industrial investment in Nigeria.
“Under my leadership, Nigeria stands ready to address specific regulatory, tax and environmental concerns. I am determined to create prosperity for all Nigerian families,” the president said.
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 queue from no nation, but will only advance the interests of the Nigerian state in his approach towards 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. The ECOWAS consensus is that we will not allow anyone to insincerely buy time,” the ECOWAS chairman affirmed.
Pledging its support for the position of ECOWAS, the US envoy expressed the high regard the administration has for the leadership of the chairman of the ECOWAS, President Bola Tinubu, and extended an exclusive invitation from President Joe Biden to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to advance discussions further in late September.
“We know there is more we can do to incentivise large-scale American investments 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,” the envoy said.
Tinubu concluded that he accepted the invitation to meet Biden, 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.
Niger Republic Denies Expelling Nigerian Ambassador
Niger Republic military leaders have denied asking the Nigerian ambassador to the country, Mohammed Usman, to leave within 72 hours.
Niger’s foreign affairs ministry was reported to have released a statement on Friday expelling the Nigerian ambassador and some Western envoys.
The statement had said: “In reaction to Nigerian Ambassador Mohamed Usman’s refusal to reply to an invitation by the ministry for a discussion on Friday August 25 at 11.30 a.m., and due to other actions of the Nigerian government contrary to Niger’s interests, the ministry is giving 48 hours to Mr. Mohamed Usman’s to leave the Nigerien territory.”
But in another statement, the country’s foreign ministry denied the memo.
It said; “Contrary to the information deliberately distilled on social networks which report a decision by the Nigerien authorities ordering the Ambassadors of Germany, Nigeria and the United States of America to leave Nigerien territory within 48 hours, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration and Nigeriens Abroad specifies that the said information is false and that only the Ambassador of France in Niger is declared persona non grata.”
“Also, the Ministry reminds those who are agitated and still doubt the expression of its sovereign will, that Niger does not need an authorisation or an interpretation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to exercise its prerogatives and have Ambassador Sylvain ITTE leave, after this 48-hour period ubur D Done in Niamey on August 25.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has debunked report of the expulsion.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francisca Omayuli, urged the public to disregard it.
It said; “The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to news making the rounds on social media that the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, H. E. Mohammed Usman was on Friday, August 25, 2023 expelled and given 48 hours to leave the country.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform the general public that this information is false and as such should be disregarded.
“The federal government of Nigeria warns against the circulation of unverified information capable of jeopardizing the ongoing mediation efforts by ECOWAS in the political impasse in Niger.”