NIGER COUP: West African Universities Call for Strategic and Peaceful Engagements 

The Association of West African Universities (AWAU) has called for strategic and peaceful engagements to resolve the leadership crisis in Niger Republic.

The Secretary General AWAU and Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, Prof  Wahab Egbewole made this call in a statement made available to FactualTimes on Tuesday.

According to association, the recent development in the hitherto peaceful Republic of Niger leading to the military junta seizing power on July 26, 2023 no doubt has left many worried with palpable tensions in and around Niger Republic.

“We are equally disturbed at the development given the attendant effects on the citizenry with respect to socio-economic activities, security of life and property and, in our own concern, access to education at a time such as this. For us at the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU), we have keenly followed the events ranging from the hostages, the broadcast by the coup leader, disturbing videos circulating, the cautions and otherwise from the international community and
lately, the activation of standby force to respond to Niger. Of all these, our concern is on the statement made by the ECOWAS Chair, thus: “no option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort”.

“While acknowledging the commitment of the ECOWAS to enthronement of democratic governance, we must appreciate the delicate implications of the use of force but the beauty of engaging peaceful means in restoring peace to Niger Republic. It is important to note that until recent coup, the lethality of
violence has steadily decreased in the first six months of 2023 at estimated 39% compared to previous six -month period of July-December, 2022.

“It must therefore be noted that the use of force at this moment can only return cases of looting and wanton destruction of common heritage. The attacks and fatalities can only
come from the civilians. Without mincing words, the uncertainty on the claim of the military junta to make situation better and terminate extremism may also be a recipe for
more crisis and security challenges.

They noted that adding arm conflict to the tensed environment will only aggravate the situation, hence it needs  wholistic review and soft
approach of dialogue to get out of the wood.

“As a body of academics, we are appealing to all sides to continue to engage in dialogue for as long as it will take because if we go to war, we will end resolving the crisis on the
dialogue table. The implications of any form of force will fundamentally affect the students, their parents, their lecturers and cause serious disruptions to academic calendar that will eventually resort to further crisis in the education sector in the sub region.” The noted.

Association of West African Universities therefore enjoined the leadership of ECOWAS to thread softly in pronouncing sanctions or taking action in spite of obvious provocations or violence inducing situation.

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