The War Against Boko Haram: A Chad Perspective
Written by a son of Borno and member of ENDS who rather withhold his identity,
It is not news that the Chadians are fully involved in the fight against Boko Haram within Nigeria. It is also no secret that the Chadians have made more gains within two months of their activities than the Nigerians have made in five years.
The reality is, the Chadians are doing a better job at everything as pertains the fight against Boko Haram than the Nigerians; from news coverage to public relations; from technique to tactic. The federal government told Nigerians that the Chadians were part of a joint military operation to tackle Boko Haram. Evidence reaching Nigerians however has suggested otherwise. What is increasingly being realized is that the Chadians took a unilateral action to stop Boko Haram, of their own. Whatever inter-national agreements followed came later after the Chadians had unilaterally chosen to intervene in the crises.
Boko Haram and Chad-The Sudan-Central African Trade And Economy
Inflation: One reason why the Chadians would have been pressed to intervene on their own without waiting for the Jonathan government’s approval was to save itself from starvation and the resulting economic and social break down. With increasing economic hardship in Chad, Idriss Deby was been forced to act. A lot of Nigerians may not know this but the Chadian economy is heavily reliant on Nigeria. They get supplies of raw materials for clothing, their food, car spare parts, building materials and a lot other materials from the Nigerian market in Kano and the Bolo stores in Maiduguri. And such goods don’t just stop in Chad or the northern Cameroons but moves all the way to Central Africa and the Sudans.
The road linking Maiduguri to the border with Cameroon has been cut off by Boko Haram for quite some time now bringing to halt the economic activities in cross border economic activities in that part of the country. A good example of the looming crisis in Chad is that of food items sent from Nigeria to Chad. A single packet of Dangote or golden penny pasta in Maiduguri costs between a N100 and N120 but with Boko Haram, when it crosses over to Chad today it sells for a N500 each.
The prices of everything from Nigeria have been quadrupled in Chad. The Giwa-Giwa trucks as they are popularly known in Maiduguri have long ceased transporting goods into Chad or Cameroon not to talk of the central African countries or the Sudans. Their main roads now form part of what many people called Bokoistan.
The PR Battle
I personally will love a situation where the liberation of the Nigerian towns be done by Nigerian troops for our national pride. In Borno we practically live together with our Chadian and Cameroonians neighbors. One cannot even tell the differences between Nigerians, Chadians or the Cameroonians except those coming from the deepest parts of their countries. Our languages and cultures in the border communities are almost the same. But in a situation where my own government seems to ignore and underreport the true situation in the war front, I rather subject myself to ridicule by my Chadian friends on how my so called giant and economic power-house of Africa has failed to deal with Boko Haram terrorist for the past 5years.
In fact the Chadians are not only doing a good work of fighting the insurgents they are also doing a terrific job in terms of informing dissemination. While Nigeria has over the 5 years been disinterested in informing its citizens, except perhaps in political campaigns or slander, the Chadians have sponsored and supported excellent media coverage of their efforts in the war and their warnings to Boko Haram.
Nile satellite, a popular Middle Eastern satellite is very popular in the northeast and almost everyone in Maiduguri has access to it. Those who reside in Maiduguri have access to the Chadi TV and watch the Chadian progress live as it happens, contrary to what our government does.
We have now reached a point where Nigerians in Borno trust the Chadian government more than they do their own government in terms of the war that is ongoing. The Chadian president is always on TV talking tough about Boko Haram unlike our own president that is renowned for always looking for whom to blame instead of doing his job and reassuring the citizenry.
Recently the Chadians took the ancient and strategic town of Dikwa from Boko Haram. This was done in a fierce battle that was partly seen on TV on the Chad TV network. In the broadcast, a senior Boko Haram commander was apprehended.
Dikwa is about 45 km from Mafa local government which is the last town Nigeria has been holding on to in that part of Borno. To our dismay the Chadians were asked to proceed no further by the Nigerian government and were instructed to withdraw and head back to Gamboru, a town they recaptured earlier. Reports have it that Jonathan ordered the Chadians back because their efficiency and success is “embarrassing” on his political reelection resume.
After the Chadians withdrew on Nigeria’s surprising order, Boko Haram came back with a vengeance on the people. A massacre was carried out by Boko Haram of the surviving people left in Dikwa town. Sadly this massacre was sparingly reported by the Nigerian media. These massacres have been confirmed to have happened in Bama, Kala Balge and Gwoza after Nigeria ordered Chad out of territories it had captured from Boko Haram. In Gwoza, reportedly, after they let the women go, they then went after the aged and those already convicted by them as traitors. This however couldn’t be independently confirmed as no one can verify as the territories are off limits and Nigeria’s government has banned journalists’ access to the northeast.
Nigerians are sadly not being told the true situation at the war front. Thus far, our troops have mostly recaptured territories virtually abandoned by Boko Haram while the Chadians to be honest engaged and defeated the terrorists in the more dangerous local governments. Places like Monguno, Baga, and others from Northern Borno were abandoned with a very few fighters left when Nigerian troops recovered them. The actual battle was left for the Chadians to face in the border areas and we commend them. Sources within the Chadian army and the Chadian people say Nigerians warn the insurgents of their advances indirectly by announcing on papers, news and the social media of their advances. This allegation was recently reported on Chad TV. In fact the Chadians mock Nigeria and Nigerians.
Learning From the Yar’Adua-Jonathan Errors With Mohammed Yusuf’s Group
I am proud of our soldiers; I however hope for more transparency and honesty in the Nigerian war against the terrorists. For long term success, Nigeria’s government should not repeat the mistakes in defeating terror the Yar’Adua and then Jonathan government made when it “defeated” the first Boko Haram insurgency of Mohammed Yusuf. These mistakes over the past 8 years are why we are where we are today. Guns alone do not curb terror; the government has to work with the people of the northeast and Nigeria’s neighbors in a fashion that is professional, responsible and efficient with mutual respect, trust and discipline. Nigeria needs to assume a decisive, leadership role devoid of political intonations. There is no role for politics in this tragedy that has gone on for far too long in that part of the country.
This vital piece was written by a son of Borno and member of ENDS who rather withhold his identity. The author has been a vital contributor of information and resource which has been published broadly and has played a significant role in shaping the events of the northeast and the campaign for a true victory for Nigeria.