Since the first suicide bombing attack on Nigerian soil in 2009, Boko Haram, the hitherto deadliest terrorist group known to man has snuffed the life out of 30,00 Nigerians, killed hundreds of Cameroonian and Chadian civilians, captured territories the size of Costa Rica and for seven years in the main, held one of Africa’s largest and most powerful army to a virtual standstill?
But how is this possible? How can a bunch of an estimated 15,000 (some estimates puts it at between 7,000 to 30,000. Nobody really knows) drug addicted untrained fighters hold its own against the combined armies of the three most powerful armies in West and Central Africa.
For answers, we go back in time. To the beginning.
Nations States have no permanent allies, only interests.
This oft repeated statement is what the Nigerian government should have considered before opening itsself up for manipulations and sabotage.
The only countries which have lined up to support Nigeria in its fight against radical Islamic extremists are two of Nigeria’s past (or present) enemies, the Republic of Chad and Cameroon. All francophone States, and not a single Anglophone country.
While Cameroon has to a degree been transparent in its military activities near the border with her giant Nigeria, it has in recent times gone a step further beyond and but been cautionary about launching incursions into Nigerian territory without authorization from the Nigerian government.
Chad on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. It has been implicated in the growth of the Boko Haram factions, especially the faction led by Abubakar Shekau, and only decided to cut off support from the insurgents and stop them from using its territory as a rear base area only after the opposing faction to Shekau known as Harakut-Muslimiin and thr Bukar Faction of Jamma’atu Ahlis Sunbah overran much of Northern Cameroon and threaned to cut off Chad’s ligistocs route from the Cameroonian port of Douala, as well as the possibility if having to deal with his wartime enemy president Muhammadu Buhari
The drying up of the money and supplies the Shekau faction received from Idris Derby coincided with the secret delivery of CH-3 Rainbow attack drones from China and Russian Mi-35 helicopters from Russia and 50 T-72 M tanks from the Ukraine.
The Nigerian army formed a tight encirclememt of known Boko Haram positions, cutting off all route for resupplies and reinforcements with the hope of starving the group into surrender, while Nigerian Air Force intensified its air campaigne against Boko Haram. Within two weeks the NAF decimated the ranks of Boko Haram, killing a third of its commanders. Those who tried to break through the army blockade were mowed down by waiting troops.
A final offensive to finnish off the weakened Jihadi group was being planned.
At this point Chad found itself on the brink of outright hostility with the Shekau led faction of Boko Haram. Chad’s President Idris Derby tried to avoid going to war against the Shekau led faction of Boko Haram by holding off the much publicised final offensive to finnish off the grouo by buying time.
How does he achieve this ?
By seeking to broker a “scam of a cease fire agreement” between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.
The nearly four weeks of negotiations gave Boko Haram the time it needed to lick its wounds and reinforce its ranks. Then on the 10th of October 2014, Boko Haram insurgents attacked two villages in Borno with new vigour and the ferocity of a lion, killing dozens. Before the dust settled they launched another assault on the village of Dzur, killing a quarter of its inhabitants. The lucky few escaped with their lives by fleeing into the snake infested bush in the dead of night.
And so it was that the group hitherto on the verge of defeat a month earlier with mass desertion in its ranks, broke the cease-fire agreement and captured a dozen villages across two north eastern states. Boko Haram denied a cease-fire existed and continued its bloodlust as north east Nigeria descended into chaos.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration had been scammed into a position of weakness and looked stupid. With the Presidential Elections just around the corner this was a death blow, especially against an opponent running on the banner of security. The Presidential aspirant for the AC (Action Congress), former Army General and military head of state, Muhammadu Buhari called the involvement of Nigerein, Chadian and Cameroonian troops in the fight a National Disgrace, and promised to crush Boko Haram within twelve months if elected president.
As Goodluck Jonathan’s popularity plummeted, that of his opponent, former army General Muhammadu Buhari increased exponentially. Chadian strongman Idris Derby, realizing, that it had to prevent being in a position of being Nigeria’s antagonist and facilitator of Boko Haram by a new Buhari administration, jumped ship and went to war against Boko Haram.
But why has, starting from late 2010 Chad being supplying weapons and cash to Boko Haram, and specifically the Shekau led faction.
Currently, the Lake Chad region has become oil producing with Chad extracting as much as a two hundred thousand barrels of crude a day from its part. The Republic of Niger which also shares the lake shore extracts around 100,000-150,000 barrels of crude of oil from the Lake Chad region each day.
Nigeria’s territory has been under explored because it can afford to, but it holds the potential to also add a similar amount of crude to the world market. Nigeria is currently the 6th largest exporter of crude in OPEC and holds the worlds 10th largest proven oil reserve with 39 billion barrels, clearly Nigeria can afford to leave its part unexplored.
Now, the amount of crude produced by Nigeria’s francophone neighbours (100,000-200,000 barrels per day) is negligible compared to Nigeria’s current production of 2,2 million barrels per day but it is a doubling of whatever Chad is currently producing, and what is more, a significant portion of it lie under the island’s Chad disputed with Nigeria over.
But we all know that Francophone countries all share a similar trait with France- GREED. The mere thought of such amount of crude and dollars probably just lying there is enough to warrant the area a closer look from N’djadmena and Idriss Deby.
But this should hardly come as a surprise. The Nigerian government has from the begining being warned about the plot by the Franco alliance to destabilize Nigeria, possibly fracture it and swoop in for the spoils. Strangely enough our government seem either bewitched, complicit or both. It is hard to understand how a wealthy and powerful sovereign nation like Nigeria will tolerate and accomodate these destabilising activities in Nigeria.
Several officials of Nigeria’s Directorate of State Security, the DSS have for some time alleged that Chadian weapons and support was flowing across the border. A captured former member of the Shekau led faction of Boko Haram revealed that from 2010 Chad supplied weapons and cash to the group, and in some cases Chadian intelligence services provided them with planning and mission logistics including information.
The same source revealed that before Chad launched its operation against Boko Haram in Nigeria, it sent a message to Shekau through prominent politician from Borno state, who also happens to be an ex governor, informing him that Chad was going to have to fight Shekau so as to create the nececesary cover to go after anti-Shekau insurgent factions threatening its transportation link to the sea via Northern Cameroon.
This explains why Chad invaded Nigeria to “supposedly” destroy Boko Haram, taking no permission from the Nigerian Government and not even informing the Nigeria until BBC and other news media broadcasted reports of its invasion.
The actions of the Chadians is nothing short of declaration of war. The Chadians, with French complicity, have been skillfully manipulating whatever outreach the Nigeria have tried to make to the insurgents, and on the one occasion on which the Nigerian government began negotiating with a faction of the insurgents without Chadian help or involvement, Chad quickly ran to the media to sow discord between both parties.
In 2014 Channels Television broke a story that Chadian soldiers supposedly liberated Nigerian territory formerly held by Shekau’s group, prevented a its News Crew from entering into these areas until they had finished cleaning out the local headquarters of the insurgents and taken away all prisoners, thus preventing Nigerians from gaining access to these prisoners.
Asked where these captured prisoners who probably include some lower level commanders are, the Chadians have been unable to produce them for the Nigerian government to interrogate, rather they have used excuses and sleights of hand to keep the Nigerian government from knowing the real locations and states of these captured fighters.
From the onset the Chadians have been playing a game that is at odds with the spirit of the regional cooperation they portend to embrace. For six years Chad has carried out high intensity subversive operations against the Nigerian state. By aiding and abetting Boko Haram Chad has unwittingly waged war against the Nigerian state.
The actions of Chad has come with a heavy price – Over 25,000 Nigerians killed, hundreds (possibly thousands) of Nigerian soldiers killed. This is nothing short of an act of war.
Nothing encourages aggression more than cowardice. Will the Nigerian government hold Chad accountable? Or do we pretend it never happened. Is there a price to pay for a hostile enemy involved in the murder of 20,000 innocent Nigerians?