Nigeria seriously needs to create a new border security/patrol force as a separate branch from the militaries traditional three uniform branches. When it comes to securing Nigeria borders, it is not enough to merely have an a few hundred soldiers run patrols and surveillance aircraft carry out irregular intermittent patrols, that’s predictable and easy to evade. Nigeria must have a permanent and dominant presence along its borders, especially the lake chad area.
This should be motivated by the build up of forces near the Nigerian border by Chad and France, the latter of which is eager to establish itself as a permanent regional superpower with permanent military and surveillance outpost stretching from Cameroon to Chad. France under the superpower wannabe Macron has been aggressively pushing its diplomatic agenda in the region and deploying sophisticated drones.
Why is this important? well, consider the fact that Nigeria shares border with four Francophone states. Nigeria The Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north.
The Proliferation of weapons has for years been a transnational organized crime in Nigeria, with external players seeking to influence events in Nigeria in pursuit of a strategic aim. Some border towns, particularly in the North Eastern flank, serve as a hub for trafficking of arms as well as stolen goods, drugs and hostages by criminals, terrorists and their collaborators (FRANCE), enabling Boko Haram to sustain a ten-year war with the largest army in West Africa. For years Nigeria paid lip service to the activities within its own border and have paid dearly for this.
The 2014 kidnaping of a French family at a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon is a classicexample. These staged false flag operations have allowed the enemy to fund Boko Haram to the tune of millions, under the guise of ransom payment.
Two months after that incident, in November 2014, Mr. Gnoti an aid to Chadian strongman Idris Derby was arrested by Nigerian soldiers at the Chadian border with 19 SAM2 missiles he purchased from the Sudanese army meant for the Boko Haram terrorist network in northeastern Nigeria.
Mr. Gnoti who claimed that President Idriss Déby gave him the funds to purchase the weapons, had waved a presidential pass issued to him by Mr. Deby’s office in order to get past Nigerian border guards but was stopped and searched by the guards who found the deadly weapons on him.
In an incident before that, witnesses reported seeing an unarked helicopter crash. They quickly rushed to the scene to rescue the occupants. Upon getting to the scene they were stunned to see two caucasion burning starks of hundred dollar bills before quickly fleeing the area. Similarly, many arms and ammunition of various types, sizes and calibre have been intercepted and confiscated by security agencies, accidentally in most cases.
Little wonder despite efforts by the Nigerian Army to land a knock out punch to the Jihadi group once and for all, the “merchants of death” continue to engage in arms trafficking/ trading taking advantage of the porous nature of the Nigerian borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
In 2016 an irate Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Services stated that the Service had discovered hundreds of illegal routes in Nigeria that link or lead to .. no surprise Cameroon and Chad. In Lagos years ago two Iranian containers laden with weapons were intercepted by customs. For each lucky intercept made, three or more would have slipped through.
Nigeria’s borders are massive with hundreds of footpaths crisscrossing to neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger with links to Mali, Libya and Sudan. From conservative estimate by locals, there are well over 250 footpaths from Damaturu/Maiduguri axis that link or lead direct to Cameroon, Chad or Niger. These paths, which are mostly unknown to security agencies, are unmanned, unprotected and have continued to serve as conveyor belts for arms and ammunitions trafficking into Nigeria.
It is disheartening and unfortunate that Boko Haram’s sponsors have since devised methods to beat security agencies at the borders, chief among them, through the footpaths. These methods include the use of camels, donkeys and cows to traffic arms, ammunition and drugs such as cocaine into the country.
Security agencies at the borders and seaports have severally complained of the porosity of the nation’s borders and waterways. If Nigeria is to effectively checkmate terrorism ravaging the northeast, it must destroy its centre of gravity!
The vastness of the nation’s borders in the face of these challenges bring to the fore the need for the creation of a new branch of the military built around border security. Nigeria is a continental leader in the application of military drone and surveillance technology and is certainly not lacking in innovation, hence the remotest part of the border should be equipped with an artificial intelligence system which will be able to automatically collect and analyze information, similar to the Navy’s Falcon Eye Surveillance System.
Guard towers, manned 24/7, should be built in eyesight distance of its neighbors. But of patrolling the vast borders and keeping an eye on everything may prove too difficult, hence the outposts should be equipped with patrol vehicles, surveillance helicopters and equipment’s and drones. Vehicles quartered at every guard tower will boost their response time will be very quick.
If Nigeria is willing to invest heavily in border control in densely populated areas cameras and patrols will be the most effective means prevent illegal crossing. Expensive but Effective.
If the Nigerian government think these measures are too expensive and complicated, then the best thing is for the Nigerian army to build up troop numbers in the area, thereby strengthening its presence in the area. This will allow Nigeria to tighten its control of its borders and prepare for any future problems in the region.
Massing several troop divisions along the border must come with an element of deterrent. Nigeria must be willing to expend resources in improving its military infrastructure in the area, including new mortar and gun positions, at a site every five and 10km.
The Nigerian army recently deployed amphibious troops 50km from the Nigerian controlled areas of the Lake Chad basin. The buildup follows reports of increased Boko Haram activities…but perhaps there is something more sinister at play, thereby necessitating the deploy ment of amphibious troops and naval gunboats. This move should be replicated in other areas.
Chad, with far fewer resources already has several units deployed in the Lake Chad basin facing Nigerian towns and villages. Nigeria, with its trillion-dollar economy could strengthen its control of the area if it learned the lessons from the Chadian invasion of 1983, which ended in a blistering assault by the Nigerian army 21 armoured Division and the Chadians retreating.
Yes Nigeria is locally dominant in the region in terms of military deployments and can defend itself against such attacks, but Nigeria has in the last decade folded its arms and watched as the strategic balance in the region is redrawn by a colonial power that shouldnt even be there in the first place.
Unlike in 1983, today virtually every country bordering Nigeria have the backing of France and the United States, and hosts some of the worlds most advanced combat aircrafts and advanced drone bases. Although the build-up of forces has not encroached into Nigerian territory, another stand-off in the Lake Chad area cannot be ruled out.
One would hope that both sides have learned the importance of diplomacy but we gotta realize Nigeria is surrounded by Africa’s two longest serving dictators and the worlds two biggest sponsor of terrorism. We cannot rule out an encroachment by external forces if they think they can get away with it.
Nigeria’s lethargic response may has incentivized the enemy to try something stupid, and this time they have rich and powerful allies. Mirage and Rafale fighter jets can cover any part of Nigerian in minutes. Therefore reinforcements are necessary from the Nigerian perspective for the sake of a more favourable balance of capabilities in the region.
Nigeria has in recent been usurped diplomatically and militarily. The only aspect of Nigerian power that is not in decline is the economy. Hence its prudent Nigeria uses her economic advantage to redress the military inbalance in the region.
But….why waste millions of dollars in border security if we could GET ALONG. Can Nigeria and its neighbors rebuild trust as border tensions linger?
Give a Mouse Cheese it will Ask For Milk
Despite his military background, President Buhari has in recent years been challenging former president Goodluck Jonathan in th act of making concessions and appeasement, in the hope we could all get along.
Nigeria played the responsible nation card when it gave up Bakassi. A goodwill gesture. Years later Nigerian communities were being harrassed, exploited and killed by Cameroonian gendarmes. There has been multiple incursions into Nigerian territory where they kill hundreds of Nigerians and burn down villages. Yet the government sheepishly seems to have no semblance of a response.
Nigeria is the economic engine of the region providin %70 of the funding of ECOWAS and subsidize their economies by giving member nations access to Africa’s largest consumer market almost tariff free.
WEAKNESS IS PROVOCATIVE
Until Nigeria stops its charity that has no direction, adopt a Nigeria First policy, end the ECOWAS single market and pursue trade on a one on one basis and forge economic trade agreements with countries like China, and grow Nigeria economically and militarily in a way that rivals the top Western nations- (something that will force western nations to respect and listen to Nigeria), lasting peace will continue to be an exercise in futility.
You will never get respect by asking for people to be fair to you, asking people to be considerate. You take your respect by being competitive and a force to be reckoned with. Nigeria is not doing this, and so Nigeria’s woes continues. If you sieve out the political and diplomatic mumbo jumbo you begin to see the synthetic nature of Nigeria’s conflicts. It defies logic and is unprecedented in the modern history of Africa.
Regional integration has amplified cross-border flow of goods, people, money and free movement of people further increasing the challenge of maintaining a states’ territorial sovereignty.
To combat this rising challenge there should be a vast increases in border security funding, staffing and technology deployments.Nigeria’s Indecisiveness and ineffectiveness within border vulnerability leaves the country susceptible to even greater national security challenges.