There are three things that makes for an effective army : Size of personnel, firepower and experience. Nigeria has all of this in abundance. So it is little surprise that when the Boko Haram insurgency started the Nigerian army was able to repress it, often with overwhelming force. In July 2009 the Nigerian army tracked Boko Haram’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Yusuf to his parents inlaws house where he was captured and transferred to the Nigerian Police. He was later summary executed.
The United States government was incensed by the crackdown, accusing the army of disproportionate use of force and accused the Nigerian army of extra-judicial Killing of Mohammed Yussuf, even though video evidence suggested the act was committed by the Nigerian police force and not the Nigerian army.
For over a year things got quiet. Boko Haram was all but forgotten.
Then in 2011 a new Boko Haram with a new commander burst into the scene with a spectacular suicide bomb attack at the United Nations building in Abuja. This was followed by random acts of suicide attacks on police stations and government institutions.
As was expected the Nigerian army was able to suppress it, but something had changed. Each time it is repressed, Boko Haram seems to have the ability to bounce back. Not once, not twice, but practically every time. National armies, even with the resources of the state can over time barely maintain the tempo in a consistent manner as attrition rate increases. Boko Haram seemed to manage to do this with relative ease. By 2014 Boko Haram was already better armed in heavy machine gun fire and anti-personnel mines than the various Task Force assigned to eliminate the group.
In 2014 Sudan’s President dropped a bombshell when in an Exclusive interview with Euronews he said that the CIA was behind Boko Haram and ISIS. This period saw American military bases spreading across the continent. It’s largest outpost in Dbjouti hosted more than 4,000 military contractors. Also thousands of U.S soldiers were reportedly preparing for missions as part of the Pentagon’s new strategy to train and advice regional forces.
Nigeria was the 4th largest supplier of crude oil the United States. The U.S government has a lot of investment in Nigeria. They had invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the oil and gas sector, and just like the situation in Iraq where America spent $3 trillion over the decade in the war in Iraq and reconstruction, only for the Chinese and Iranians to come in and secure multibillion contracts.
The Chinese are coming.
China, a country with no investment in Nigeria is building infrastructural projects and being paid in commodities. Understandably the United States will not fold its arms and watch history repeat itself. The U.S will protect its investment at any cost.
That is the main reason for U.S expansion in Africa. Not to bring democracy, not to help the local population, but to protect American interest. To justify their reason for being here the Americans are gonna need lots of chaos and strife, and the Nigerian government would paradoxically make the job very easy and less expensive for the United States.
Poor governance, incompetent leadership, corruption on a scale never seen in history that led to graft, violence, mistrust of government ,the socio-economic and political crises and its attendant violence in the country now provided a legitimate reason for the United States to come and pitch tent in West Africa before China did.
Africa is dotted with U.S bases and a growing constellations of American drone outposts. Camp Lemonnier, north of Somalia has been America’s main facility on the continent. It had 4000 military and civilian personnel. But at the end of 2015 it was stopped to stop flying drones in the area after a string of crashes and mistakenly bombing civilian houses and growing anger from locals. Can you imagine a spate of accidental bombing of public hospitals , or schools, or residential buildings, or roads happening all over Nigeria? We’ve seen the destructive effects of American drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
But not to worry America. Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger and now Ghana are willing to help the United States turn West Africa into one gigantic American military warehouse. The danger these countries do not understand is that, like all foreign interventions the conflicts expand from them, and next thing you know we have direct interference and complete loss of sovereignty.
According to U.S Secretary of State in the Obama administration Jogh Kerry :
“What is happening in Africa is so exciting. We are really deeply engaged, and the President has instructed us to really try to light our fire and our effort throughout the continent. “
What’s not to exciting is the growth of jihadists across the continent. Thousands of American soldiers are gearing up for missions as part of the Pentagon’s new strategy to train and advice African militaries to deal with the threat. The Americans have failed to combat terrorism in Afghanistan or anywhere else, and the same will happen here in West Africa, instead their presence will even bring the terrorist threat to the region.
Anglophone Ghana, with its disdain for Nigeria has calculated that well, this will allow me to be a good friend of America, maybe attract some investments and security cooperation. Unfortunately West Africa’s most peaceful and politically stable country risk losing a lot. The people of Ghana should know that once terrorism starts, it never really ends.
Nigeria has been the lone voice expressing concern about the militarization of West Africa, fearful that America’s expanding presence will bode badly for all parties. The Boko Haram threat has been the primary factor justifying continuous American military presence in the region, hence Boko Haram will never be vanquished. The United States did not spend $700 million in building drone bases and intelligence facilities only to pack up and leave once the group is vanquished. They will not let it happen,
The question we should all ask ourselves is this. How does a terror organisation thats been beating badly everytime since 2012 manage to surface practically overnight with greater training, organisation and weaponry?
How does a bunch of blood thirsty misfits of a terrorist group hold its own against the combined armies of three most powerful militaries in the region, all sharing land borders, (Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon)?
In a region bristling with some of the worlds most sophistocated surveilance systems, including drones, how does Boko Haram train, aquire weapons, but fuel for hundreds of vehicles and carry out operations undetected.
Where do they get their weapons and know-how from? and most importantly, who is going to benefit from the destabilization of West Africa’s giant Nigeria?
The presence of U.S forces have erased the need of the Nigerian military for regional policing. With Morocco’s entry into ECOWAS will easily fill the investment void that will arise should Nigeria cease to be a viable state. They have it all carefully worked out. Tunisia also is in the process of submitting a bid to join the West African economic and political bloc. This is a hostile takeover at its finest.
But alas Nigeria has defied the laws of physics. The level of socio-political and ethnic strife and killings and sectarian tensions will be every means plunge a nation into full blown civil war. Instead the Nigerian military has turned to Russia, China and Eastern European countries for weapons and training. A revived Nigerian army have decimated the ranks of Boko Haram. Yes the Jihadi group do from time to time carry out suicide attacks and even attack military bases. But these attacks smacks more out of desperation to remain relevant than anything else.
Looking at todays Nigerian army, even the powers that be realise Boko Haram can no longer pose an existential threat to Nigeria. So now suddenly out of the blue again we have this Islamic Shiite uprising, clamouring for the release of their spiritual leader Zakawi. In weeks clashes between Shiite members and Nigerian security forces have increased exponentially. We are seeing a repeat of the same game play, the same script.
Boko Haram at its peak numbered roughly 30,000. That’s nothing compared to the Shiites in Nigeria that number into the millions. If the tension between the Islamic Shiite sect and security forces escalates into open conflict, the implications are too horrendous to contemplate.