By Our Correspondent
AS diplomatic efforts continue with pressure mounting on the putschists who hijacked power in neighbouring Niger Republic, President Bola Tinubu, on Sunday night, met with five northern governors who share borders with the coup-torn country.
The meeting was part of consultations by the President on the situation in Niger Republic.
The governors, who met the President at Aso Rock are Ahmed Aliyu (Sokoto), Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Idris Nasir (Kebbi) and Dr Dikko Radda (Katsina).
Though details of the meeting held at the State House in Abuja were not made public, the meeting is coming as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other members states have imposed a border ban on Niger Republic.
ECOWAS, under the leadership of Tinubu, had threatened military action against Niger Republic with a deadline that expired on Sunday.
Former colonial power France, with which the junta broke military ties after taking power on July 26, said it would “firmly” back whatever course of action ECOWAS took after the Sunday deadline expired.
“The future of Niger and the stability of the entire region are at stake,” the office of French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said after she held talks in Paris with Niger’s prime minister, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou.
ECOWAS military chiefs of staff have agreed on a plan for a possible intervention to respond to the crisis, the latest of several coups to hit Africa’s Sahel region since 2020.
“We want diplomacy to work, and we want this message clearly transmitted to them (the junta) that we are giving them every opportunity to reverse what they have done,” ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah said on Friday.
But he warned that “all the elements that will go into any eventual intervention have been worked out”, including how and when force would be deployed.
Niger has played a key part in Western strategies to combat jihadist insurgencies that have plagued the Sahel since 2012, with France and the United States stationing around 1,500 and 1,000 troops in the country, respectively.
Yet anti-French sentiment in the region is on the rise, while Russian activity, often through the Wagner mercenary group, has grown. Moscow has warned against armed intervention from outside Niger.