HAJIYA FAREEDA UMAR is the Coordinator of Concerned Women and Youth for Safer Northern Nigeria (CWYN). In this interview with newsmen in her Kaduna office discuses her organisation's appeal on the current Niger Republic crisis vis a vis the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) involvement into the matter. 

She opined that a closer look at the relationship between Niger and Nigeria, being the engagement grounds ECOWAS will leverage on is key. CWYN is of the opinion that military intervention can trigger unending crisis, and Northern Nigeria and of course will be the primary target, which according to the pro-Northern Nigeria organisation is likely going breed unrest into the territory. Excerpts:

Q) You are known to be anchoring an NGO, can you give us an overview of the organization?

Well, our organization, Concerned Women and Youth for Safer Northern Nigeria (CWYN) is a young non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental and non-criminal organisation. Our main goal is to advocate for good governance and a better Nigeria by creating awareness.

Q) There was a smooth transition after Nigeria's general elections (of 2023). And yet most Nigerians are craving for the best, having witness some sudden changes concerning harsh economic weather. In your view, and as Nigerian, what do you think bothers you now, more than the political power play?

As a Nigerian citizen, my main concern and I believe the concern of majority of Nigerians especially those in the North is issues of insecurity, inflations, food insecurity, poverty and lack of job opportunities for the majority of youths in particular among other challenges. 

All these problems being faced combined, created the harsh economic realities that we have today. As a matter of fact, the security situation has affected many other areas of our society, this have created unpleasant conditions which has made life unbearable to millions. Unless drastic measures are taken to address these challenges, i am afraid we will continue to see insecurity rising. Take a look at the decay in education today, many children cannot even go to school due to insecurity, many farmers left their farmlands leading to shortage of food.

Q) Amidst all the yearnings of people, now there's another difficult situation about the Niger/Nigeria crisis, to an extent the ecowas just set a Target to use force in restoring back the former governance in Niger republic. Do you subscribe to that?

No I don't.. And the reason for that is clear, I am a Northerner and as a Northerner I regard the people of Niger not only as our neighbors but as our brothers and sisters. We share strong ethnic, cultural and economic ties. 

Therefore, any military intervention against Niger will unavoidably and directly affect Northern Nigeria by worsening and further destabilizing the region which has been plagued by insecurity ànd infrastural decay. another major threat to our security is the perception of the two neighboring countries of Niger that are being governed by the military that is Mali and Burkina Faso.

They feel that any military intervention in Niger is a declaration of war on them so when Niger is attacked, it is going to trigger a regional warfare that no one knows how it will end. Russia is exploiting this opportunity as well to extend its global dominance to africa. So its a whole lot more than just a war with Niger Republic but a war with many interested parties seeking to advance their own dominance. We should not as a country be led into a war like saudi Arabia, which is not trapped in Yemen.

Q) Give us your candid opinion about Nigeria’s involvement on Niger crisis

In my earlier submission, my opinion is clear. ECOWAS, on the other hand was established by the ‘Treaty of Lagos’ in May, 1975 to promote economic cooperation, integration self- reliance and collective self- sufficiency. West Africa is approximately 441 million people and Nigeria alone has about 223 million people making it the largest country in West Africa. It is an influential member of the organization. Our president being the chairman of ECOWAS further necessitates our involvement. But still if we use caution and avoid jumping into war, ECOWAS has no option but to retract its military intervention. Nigeria should be seen to promote dialogue not war.

Q) What are your prayers towards resolving the crisis rather than the confrontational steps being taken by the ecowas?

If I am to meet my President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I categorically tell him to extend time for dialogue with the Niger coup leaders.

Our prayers is for diplomatic negotiations in resolving this without the use of force to take place. Any harsh and hostile sanctions should be reversed. For example Nigeria’s decision to cut electricity supply to Niger violates the treaty of that enabled Nigeria to build a dam on the river Niger.

Q) But the Mr. Tinubu is the current chairman of ECOWAS, do u think there's a way he should have handled the crisis?

Yeah sure. ECOWAS decision to retain the option of military intervention in Niger, facing the way for the mobilization of a force which will mainly be composed of Nigerian and Senegalese troops. 

I think Nigeria is facing serious economic difficulties and its military is already over- stretched due to them being involved in internal security operations which should be carried out by domestic security agencies such as the police. So we urge our president who double as Chairman of ECOWAS President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to not rush into an avoidable conflict as that will only raise the prospect of a major regional conflict and a serious domestic implications.

Q) Who are your target partners in pushing these your laid down objectives. Who and who are you calling on to come on board to achieve all these?  

All stakeholders involved. Such as Northern Elders, Arewa consultative forum and the youth, especially those in the North. Celebrities, bloggers, influencers and the general public who share common interest with us. We want to make our voices heard and hopefully influence a positive outcome  in this crisis.

If I am to mention names, I call on northern Nigeria elders like Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, blogger/influencers like Aisha Yesufu, Aisha Falke (Northern Hibiscus), Hausa Guy, and writers like Fadila H. Aliyu Kurfi to all subscribe to this project and add up their voices. 

This is a Clarion call, so all northern celebrities and by extension Nigeria artiste council, including all bloggers in our present time to subscribe to this project.

Q) What is your appeal to Nigeriens and also Nigerians?

My appeal to both Nigeriens and Nigerians as well, is to stay positive, to never give up hope that peace can be achieved because we believe peace is always better than war, and also to call on women to join us in this advocacy because whenever there’s war women are left behind to carry all the burden of taking care of the family by themselves.

Q) Your last words to all those whom you want to work with on this project. 

Well, I am calling on them to join hands with us, to endure and to never give up.

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