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US vice president, UN chief back Tinubu on Niger’s democracy

Vice President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, have assured President Bola Tinubu of their support to restore democratic governance in Niger Republic.

The support was coming after a military coup that ousted its Niger Republic President, Muhammed Bazoum, earlier this week.

Bazoum, the latest target in a wave of coups in Africa’s Sahel region, has been confined at his residence since Wednesday by his presidential guard.

The Nigerian leader had stood his ground as the condemnation of the overthrow poured in from African states, the ECOWAS, and other international organisations.

President Tinubu, who serves as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, had described the development as “unpleasant,” insisting that Nigeria will do all within its power to plant and nurture democracy in West Africa.

That Wednesday, the ECOWAS Chair dispatched a strong delegation to talk with all the parties to restore constitutional order in Niger.

In separate telephone conversations with Tinubu, Harris and Guterres expressed strong support for Nigeria’s efforts to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.

“The two leaders also commended the Nigerian President for spearheading the peace moves,” Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Dele Alake, disclosed this in a statement he signed on Friday.

The statement is titled ‘Kamala Harris, Guterres, in separate telephone calls with Tinubu, back Nigeria on restoration of democratic order in Niger.’

In her telephone conversation with President Tinubu, at the instance of the US authorities, Harris praised the reform initiatives of the Federal Government, urging the country to continue in that direction.

While pledging to support democracy in Africa, including the West African sub-region, Harris also said the US would assist Nigeria in the battle against terrorism.

The US Vice President spoke on the need for Africa, including Nigeria, to embrace energy transitions.

In his response, President Tinubu thanked Harris for her encouragement on the efforts taken so far on the economy but added that “the developments in the Niger Republic dampen spirits.”

He said ECOWAS, under his watch, would do all that is necessary to restore democracy in Niger while counting on the support of the US.

President Tinubu craved more private-sector investment in Nigeria, urging the US to lead the way in this regard.

He said, “We had to get rid of the fuel subsidy that is laden with fraud with a few people appropriating the wealth of the country to themselves.

“We would need the US to help push for investments that will help alleviate the effects of subsidy removal in Nigeria. We need foreign direct investment to come in.

“We have abundant gas resources in the country and not being able to fund gas pipelines to Europe and compete in that gas market is a handicap,”

On climate change, the President said Nigeria would stay focused on alternate energy, but he pleaded for the developed nations to understand the situation in developing countries, including Africa.

The two leaders also spoke about strengthening relations between their two countries and their shared work on global and regional issues.

Other matters featured in the discussions that lasted about 40 minutes included defending democracy in West Africa and The Sahel and digital inclusion.

Speaking with the UN Secretary-General Guterres, President Tinubu said he was doing everything possible to resolve the impasse in Niger.

While expressing the hope that the situation in Niger could still be reversed for the better, he said ECOWAS would require the UN’s support for restoring democracy and building institutions in that country.

Guterres had earlier pledged the commitment of the UN to Tinubu’s peace efforts in Niger.

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