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Bode George Questions Nigeria’s Motive for Sending Troops to Niger, Calls for Diplomacy

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Chief Olabode George, the former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has urged President Bola Tinubu and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to explore diplomatic avenues before hastily resorting to military action in response to the Niger coup.

George shared his insights during an interview with Arise Television on Tuesday morning. He emphasized that President Tinubu should prioritize Nigeria’s national interests when considering the deployment of troops to the French-speaking nation.

In his words, “As they convene tomorrow, my advice is that there exists ample opportunity for dialogue. The ongoing crisis affecting these Francophone countries is rooted in the French colonial approach. While the British approach led to colonies gaining independence, the French advocated assimilation, retaining significant control. French forces are present in nearly every African country they colonized.”

Drawing from his background as a retired Naval officer, George elaborated, “Experience shapes wisdom. Our engagement with  ECOMOG stands as a testament. We exerted considerable military, financial, and personnel resources. However, one must reflect on Nigeria’s gains from this effort.”

He elaborated on the key aspect of safeguarding national interests, asserting, “Before a nation embarks on war, it must instill in its soldiers a profound understanding of the nation’s interests. Should any action jeopardize these interests, then a response is justified—defending vital national concerns.”

Based on the lessons learned from ECOMOG, George expressed reservations about the potential benefits of Nigeria’s intervention in Niger. He appealed to ECOWAS leaders to exercise caution. Reflecting on the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, he cautioned against underestimating the gravity of warfare and encouraged prioritizing dialogue over confrontation.

Speaking from his experience, George noted that Niger is not the sole country in the Francophone region with military leadership. He highlighted the prevalence of military administrations in countries stretching from Guinea to Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan. George questioned the rationale for focusing specifically on Niger given the broader geopolitical context.

Recalling an earlier warning he had issued, George had cautioned President Tinubu against hastily declaring war on Niger. He had advised the President to consider diplomacy over an unnecessary military confrontation.

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