2019/10/02 – Niger is not Nigeria. The two countries may be neighbours with ethnic affinity but they are two different countries with two different governments and two different heads of governments. Last week Thursday, two State Governors from Niger Republic, Mr. Issa Moussa of Zinder and Mr. Zakiri Umar of Maradi State came with a multitude into Kano, a town in Nigeria, dressed in the regalia of the APC, Nigeria’s ruling party to campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC presidential flagbearer. This is unprecedented. I know of no government official of another country that has come into Nigeria to campaign for a candidate or party in Nigeria. Nor do I know of any Nigerian government official who has gone to another country to campaign for a candidate in that country. So what the two governors from Niger Republic did last Thursday in Kano was a direct, rude, cocky and blatant intervention in the domestic affairs of Nigeria. Their interference is aimed at influencing the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Nigeria in favour of Mr. Buhari and his party. Foreign intervention in our elections whether committed by Africans or Europeans or Americans or Russians or anybody else who is not a Nigerian is unacceptable and unwelcomed.
Niger seems to enjoy reasonably friendly relations with Nigeria. Last year, President Buhari gave priority to the construction of a rail line from Kano to Maradi and Zinder from whence the two Governors come. The two states also have a huge Fulani and Muslim population so their affinity with parts of Northern Nigeria is strong. These two Governors would like, I think, to continue to enjoy a good relationship with Nigeria in the days to come. But they are going about it the wrong way which amounts, in the final analysis, to an abuse of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. It is also a challenge and an insult to Nigeria’s sovereign status.
If Buhari wins the February 16, elections, the two Governors can breathe easy and come over in their flowing gowns for a party. If he loses, and someone else wins, the two Governors will be crawling and begging for mercy from the winner of the election. What they have done is a gamble based on foolishness. Their appearance in Kano for a few hours is unlikely to be a deciding factor for the February 16 elections. It may in fact not work for Buhari because many Nigerians may be offended by the fact that two Governors from a handkerchief sized country like Niger actually want to influence the outcome of our elections. If Buhari wins, Nigerians will be watching to see if he is going to grant the two Governors, even the Nigerien government, unmerited favours. So this blatant endorsement is not likely to be eminently useful to them or to Buhari, but it has consequences for the way we run our democracy.
Ray Ekpu / Premium Times
Sahel-Elite : Photo: Premium Times