HomeNewsPower Restored: Nigeria Lifts Niger Sanctions

Power Restored: Nigeria Lifts Niger Sanctions

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Nigeria has officially lifted its sanctions against the Republic of Niger, including the resumption of electricity supply, following the directives of President Bola Tinubu. This decision, emerging from an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit led by Tinubu, signals a thaw in relations and a hopeful step towards regional cooperation and stability.

Diplomatic Ties Rekindled

The narrative took a significant turn when, on Wednesday, President Tinubu ordered the opening of Nigeria’s land and air borders with Niger, effectively ending a period of strained relations that began with a coup in Niger in July 2023. This coup, which saw the ousting of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum, had prompted ECOWAS, under Tinubu’s leadership, to impose a series of sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional order in Niger.

Despite these measures, Niger’s new junta resisted calls to reinstate the deposed leader, instead seeking solidarity with Mali and Guinea, countries similarly governed by military rule. However, in a move reflecting both political strategy and humanitarian concern, ECOWAS decided to lift these sanctions on February 24, just ahead of the Lent and Ramadan seasons, while maintaining certain targeted restrictions.

Energizing Relations

Following the ECOWAS decision, Nigeria moved swiftly to normalize relations, reinstating crucial electricity exports to Niger—a gesture with significant economic and symbolic value. Nigeria’s power sector officials confirmed the restoration of supply, underscoring the mutual benefits of resumed energy transactions, not just in fostering diplomatic goodwill but also in boosting Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings from power exports.

“President Tinubu has also approved the lifting of financial and economic sanctions against the Republic of Guinea,” read a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement was titled ‘Nigeria opens land and air borders with the Republic of Niger, lifts other sanctions. Tinubu’s directive came just days after the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government lifted economic and travel sanctions on Niger, Mali, and Guinea.

Ngelale’s statement read, “Consequently, the President has directed that the following sanctions imposed on the Republic of Niger be lifted immediately:

“Closure of land and air borders between Nigeria and Niger Republic, as well as ECOWAS no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger Republic.

“Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between Nigeria and Niger, as well as a freeze of all service transactions, including utility services and electricity to the Niger Republic.

“Freeze of assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Banks and freeze of assets of the Republic of Niger, state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks.

“Suspension of Niger from all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions, particularly EBID and BOAD. Travel bans on government officials and their family members.”

A Framework for Cooperation

The reopening of borders and lifting of sanctions was welcomed across various sectors, with customs officials and other government agencies gearing up to implement these changes. The decision reflects a broader commitment to regional peace and cooperation, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in resolving disputes.

This restoration of full diplomatic and economic activities between Nigeria and Niger marks a crucial step towards rebuilding trust and fostering a stable, cooperative regional environment. The move not only alleviates the immediate hardships faced by Nigeriens but also sets a precedent for handling future political crises within the ECOWAS framework.

Source: Punch

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