By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The death of Idris Deby, President of Chad, has been described as shocking and might bring about a twist in the war against terrorism in Nigerian and the West African sub-region. According to multiple sources interviewed for comments on the latest development, there was a unanimous agreement that the death of Idris Deby, though unfortunate, might bring about the much-needed success in the war against terrorism in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region.
According to an international expert on cross-border crimes, Prof. Harem Suitzubury, he believed that Idris Deby was a major player in rebellious guerilla warfare in the African continent from the early 90s when he took power by leading a rebellion against President Hissène Habré in December 1990.
“The era of Idris Deby was eventful and one that draws on the history of the entrenchment of rebellious and insurgent activities. Of course, being a rebel himself, one could understand how he could hold power for 30 years. Even though he was president of Chad, he promoted several rebel groups to fight those he perceived as threats to his stay in power and interestingly, some of the rebels under his control breakaway and constituted a great threat to his life that eventually culminated in his death.”
He also stated that the bulk of the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region was because of the activities of Idris Deby, who promoted rebel groups to do his bidding against groups that were opposed to his leadership style and his extended stay in power.
“When you look at the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region, you would see traces of Idris Deby’s footprints. More recently is the Boko Haram insurgents found the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin as a haven. This was with the tactic support of Idris Deby in the sense that the bulk of the logistical support the Boko Haram group have been receiving comes from Chad. In a way, I think his death would be a major blow to the Boko Haram insurgents.”
This view was corroborated by another scholar Dr Ibraheem Saloung who stated that the economic potentials in the region were a significant factor in fuelling the conflict in the region.
“One of Africa’s largest freshwater bodies, the Lake Chad, has shrunk by 90 per cent. Over 10 million people across the region are in need of emergency assistance. The United Nations has termed the Lake Chad crisis as “one of the worst in the world. In the Sahel straddles Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, Lake Chad is home to 17.4 million people. It is blessed with rich aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. The Lake Chad basin comprises biosphere reserves, World Heritage and Ramsar sites as well as wetlands of international conservation importance.”
“At the height of these is the President of Chad, who is viewed as an ally of the French authorities whose interest in the economic potentials in the region has never been disputed. Consequently, the Boko Haram war has continued to gain traction because Idris Deby made the region a haven for the insurgents where they have training camps and retreats to whenever they come under heavy bombardment from Nigerian troops.”
“Recall that in 2014, former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan visited Chad, reiterating the need for Nigeria and her neighbours to intensify joint actions and cooperation to win the war against terrorism and insurgency. Jonathan stated that if the countries do not cooperate, we will not find it easy to win the war because when the heat is strong in one country, the criminals and terrorists will go to another one and hide. This was very instructive, but again the much-needed commitment was not secured because Idris Deby was a major actor in the conflict.”
This fact also reinforced that the Boko Haram group have been able to launch violent campaigns in Nigeria because Chad became their operational headquarters after their dislodgement from Camp Zero in Sambisa forest in 2016. This much has been highlighted at numerous forums by experts in conflicts that have consistently emphasized the need for regional cooperation in the war against terrorism in the African continent.
According to Alfred Dumberg, an international expert in conflict management, he opined that the lackadaisical commitment of Chad is responsible for the ineffectiveness of the Multinational Joint Task Force in carrying out its mandate.
“The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is a combined multinational formation, comprising military units from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. It is headquartered in N’Djamena and is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency. But the commitments of some of the member countries have been suspect, especially Chad under Idris Deby, who didn’t show enough commitment even though the MNJTF was headquartered in Ndjamena.”
“In my opinion, it was a deliberate act by Idris Deby in his desire to increase his relevance level in the continent. He turned a blind eye to the activities of Boko Haram fighters in Chad, he allowed for logistical support from external sponsors of the group using the Chad route through the Baga axis, and this is where we are today.”
“For some of us conversant with the operations of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Chad was meant to be the game-changer in the sense that if Idris Deby had shown commitment, the Boko Haram war conflict would have been long over.”
He further highlighted that all the support to Boko Haram had been coming from Chad, including training and logistic supplies.
“I tell you, great successes would be recorded in the war against terrorism with the death of Idris Deby, who from available information has been a major covert sponsor of the Boko Haram insurgents. There would be changes that would bring about success in the prosecution of the war. It is hoped that the relevant stakeholders use this opportunity to show commitment towards ending the Boko Haram war.”
To this end, Dr Funke Adeniran, a professor of international diplomacy, opined that Lake Chad countries must fully integrate their forces into the MNJTF to boost its capacity by better sharing plans and intelligence, committing troops for more extended operations and improving troops’ human rights compliance.
“MNJTF’s effectiveness has suffered from confusion over priorities, the four countries’ reluctance to cede command to the force itself, and funding and procurement delays. To make the joint force a more effective part of efforts to tackle the region’s jihadist insurgencies, Lake Chad countries should build up their planning, coordination and intelligence sharing. Governments and military leaders should lean toward sharing more information with the joint force and give senior officials greater leeway to determine what can be shared and what should be withheld for security reasons. They should commit troops for more sustained periods and clarify when national forces act under MNJTF command