In August 2014 the Nigerian government lost N2.5 billion to Chad in a scam so elaborate it makes Bernie Maddox look like an apprentice comparatively.
But how is this possible? How did a nation like Nigeria lose N2.5 billion to its tiny neighbour Chad? Let’s peel back the layers to see why and how.
2015 was a good year for the Nigerian Army. After suffering from a plethora of defeats, loss of territory and diplomatic embarrassments the Nigerian military was finally clawing its way back into the fight. As Nigerian troops pushed back Boko Haram, inflicting heavy losses on the Jihadi group the Nigerian Air Force announced a comprehensive strategy for destroying Boko Haram.
The campaign centered on an air war against Boko Haram and the provision of arms and training to local vigilantes whose knowledge of the terrain became invaluable.
Boko Haram had pushed into and captured territory the size of Costa Rica and effectively took control of seventeen local government in Nigeria’s northeast, cutting off two million Nigerians from the rest of the country. In due course their hold on the territories was broken, and the Nigerian army had pushed back Boko Haram significantly from early June.
By July Boko Haram had suffered heavy losses on a scale that threatened their very own existence as a terrorist group. A third of their commanders were killed or badly wounded, the bulk of their fighters were on the verge of starvation,and was dealing with a snake bite epidemic. Unable to hold unto territory they retreated to their last bastion-the 66,000 sqr kmSambisa forest.
By August Boko Haram’s ability to carry out attacks had been so degraded that a final offensive was planned to finnish off the group in a decapitating strike. The Jonathan administration’s strategy dramatically expanded the air campaign to disrupt Boko Haram’s ability to coordinate any semblance of defense to help facilitate the advance of Nigerian troops to the very heart of the Sambisa forest.
In addition to air airstrikes, the new strategy was to involves sizable ground deployment, about 4,000 soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division. After months of planning, the 72 hours FINAL OFFENSIVE seemed all set and ready to ………
WAIT !! CEASE FIRE ! CEASE FIRE !!
Idris Derby, the Chadian President and the only country Nigeria had gone to full scale war with, approached the lame duck government of Goodluck Jonathan asking that he mediates between Nigeria and Boko Haram and called for an immediate ceasefire.
Finally achieving a cease fire deal (to give Boko Haram respite), Chadian Strongman Idris Derby claimed he was already talking with Boko Haram.
….Now this is were it gets funny folks.
The Nigerian government began taking step to verify the authenticity of the so called Boko Haram representatives in the negotiations, but Idris Derby asked the Nigerian government to take a chance that he had done the verification already. He affirmed that Boko Haram’s representatives were truly standing in for the group in the negotiations.
Nigeria’s current Army Chief of Staff, Abubakar Tukur was the one spearheading the dialogue between Boko Haram on behalf of the Nigerian government. He had the first contact with group. It was still in the middle of the supposed negotiations that Danladi Ahmadu announced on Voice of America that the group had ceased fire. Following the announcement of ceasefire by the group, the Nigerian government equally announced a ceasefire on October 17 for the supposed negotiations to continue.
A Nigerian delegation let for Chad on October 21 for another run of talks with Boko Haram, but the Chadian President became evasive. The Nigerian delegation was told that Derby was sick and that the meeting be rescheduled for October 23.
On October 23, the delegation was told again that the Chadian President was sick after waiting for six hours. Despite this embarrassment and insult the clueless delegates again and again made several visits to Chad, but kept meeting a brickwall.
A week later a rejuvenated Boko Haram carried out simultaneous spectacular attacks. Seizing three villages in the first 24 hours and leaving hundreds dead and thousands fleeing into the Bush. Soon after Boko Haram produced a video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, flanked by his commanders denying the purported cease fire deal.
As Boko Haram’s resumed attacks intensified, the Nigerian government made several attempts to inquire from the Chadian president who was paid $25 million by the Goodkuck Jonathan administration to mediate between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, but it was an exercise in futility.
France was privy to the botched Negitiations but said nothing just like the Chadian government.
At this point it became clear to the Nigerian government that Idris Deby was working for Boko Haram (who would have guessed). The Chadian government did not say a word to the Nigerian government since Boko Haram renewed onslaught. It simply refused to make any comment or communicate with the Nigerian givernment after charging and pocketing a “mediation fee” of $25 million.
Weakness Encourages Aggression.
One of the disadvantages of being weak is that you get pushed around. If you’re a little guy and weak it doesn’t happen all that often becaus there is nothing to gain in the way of building a strong reputation in pushing a weakling around, If you are the big, fat, stupid kid, then Billie line up to mess with you.
That is the position Nigeria finds itself in after nearly nine years of malfeasance, lack of a strategic depth, corruption and general ineptitude in the conduct of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
Not content to merely being corrupt and gullible, Goodluck Jonathan is the type that insists on advertising his weakness. He backed down easily when his request to go after Boko Haram fighters who used Cameroon as a staging base for attack before retreating into of safety of Cameroon. He failed to pressure the Cameronian government to secure its border region to stop cross border attacks or risk unilateral military incursion if need be.
After Chadian forces carried out unauthorized unilateral air and ground attacks in Nigerian territory by claiming, rather improbably to all but gibbering idiots and then Nigerian people, that the attacks were part of the agreement reached between Nigeria and Chad for joint military operation, even after Idris Derby insisted his actions were unilateral. This does not include multiple incursions by Cameroonian troops illegally crossing into Nigeria, killing hundreds of Nigerian civilians, burning whole villages and casually retreating back into Cameroon with no care or fear.
This has only encouraged the Chadians to start making territorial claims, after a 30 year lull. Chad has been intent up on claiming parts of Borno State for over three decades. Part of this is an economic strategy aimed at the exploitable oil, gas and mineral deposits and fisheries in the receding Lake Chad.
Nigeria is gradually becoming a nation if whims. There are capable Nigerians that can pilot this nation an keep it on the right course, but we may have to wait for these 40 years of recycled leaders to kick the bucket, and that will not be any time soon.