What The Brave Chadian Soldiers Have Taught Us About Boko Haram


Without mincing words, the gory pictures of the corpses of the Boko Haram terrorists and vast assault weapons recovered from their enclaves by the Chadian troops coupled with Abubakar Shekau's response all point to the mortality and vulnerability of the terrorists. This war can be won if there is the will power to do so.

The recent successes of the Chadian troops, a member of the Multinational Joint Taskforce against the Boko Haram sect in the Northern-eastern part of Nigeria are similar to stories we have heard before. 100 Boko Haram fighters were neutralized in an offensive launched by the war-hardened Chadian troops in Borno State days after the dreaded sect gruesomely shed the blood of 92 of its soldiers on the Boma peninsula, in Lac province, which borders Niger and Nigeria. The Nigerian troops have annihilated the Boko Haram militia en masse over the years and they have also recovered a large cache of weapons from the group. But a deeper look at the development indicates underlying messages which could be easily overlooked.

The elusive factional leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau who has been described as a cat with nine lives, was struck emotionally and he couldn't help but cry out. He appealed to the Chadian soldiers that are seasoned in guerrilla and desert warfare to leave his sympathizers alone as he acknowledges the losses and urged his men not to flee in the face of battle. The content and tone of the audio message are strange and rapt attention should be paid to the military move that made that elusive demon cringe.

The recalcitrant Shekau never cracks in the face of maximum pressure. He always finds a way to release videos mocking and threatening the Nigerian army, the President, Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials who might have crossed him path around that time. But in a shocking turn of events. Shekau's message gave away his deepest feelings. He was worried and threatened. His message was devoid of the normal mockery and grandstanding previously expressed by him. It was an apparent appeal to the Chadian soldiers to temper justice with mercy. It was clear that Shekau was hurt, this is the morale booster that the troops need at the war front because the battle isn't only physical but also psychological.

Another factor that stands out is the fact that the president of the country, Idriss Deby led his soldiers in battle. As the battle progressed on the ground, he reportedly monitored it from an aircraft. This interesting development is synonymous to the medieval period of the biblical King David who led the Israelites to war against the Amalekites, Philistines, Moabites, people of Zobah, Arameans and Edom. In those days, the presence of the kings on the battlegrounds had a way of lifting the spirits of the soldiers who get so motivated and intoxicated to die fighting to protect their leader. Deby's presence at such a red zone was sensational and it gained traction in the media. The news resonated among Nigerians who might be giving up on the decade-old battle with the sect. The fact that the Chadian troops were coming off a major loss to the Boko Haram fighters in a battle that claimed 92 of their troops in barely a week reeked of the kind of vengeance reserved against the worst villains in movies. War-tested Deby's daring move which could have been costly if he was injured, captured or even killed yielded good fruits. About 100 Boko Haram fighters fell on the battlefield. Deby and his armed forces didn't stop there, they proceeded to Kelkoua bank and Magumeri where they destroyed Boko Haram facilities and a large armoury belonging to them was seized. How they were able to gather such weapons in a country that has a customs service remains a million-dollar question. But what do you expect? There is deep-seated corruption in Nigeria and our land borders are more porous than sandy soil.

Deby effortlessly made a move Nigerians hoped for during the Buhari euphoria of the 2015 presidential election. The electorate expected Buhari as a retired general to smoke out the terrorists but that's mere fantasy and wishful thinking considering the performance of the current administration in the area of security and the counter-insurgency war. Buhari has become old and frail that he even struggles to read his speeches with life and rigour. Buhari has a disdain for directly addressing crises and tackling it head-on. When there was a pipeline explosion in the Abule Ado, FESTAC area of Lagos State in March leaving 10 dead, 25 injured and 50 houses destroyed, Buhari failed to fly down to commiserate with the victims like other world leaders would do. The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu oddly flew to meet Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa and presented pictures of the scene of the disaster to the president. That's almost a historical low, to say the least!

Apart from this, Buhari hardly sees any reasonable need to visit the Northeast in the face of catastrophic onslaughts on the troops by the enemies. His handlers who might have limited faith in the troops' capacity to protect him could have concluded he isn't safe there. So in this case, Derby, the leader of a small and impoverished neighbouring country might be teaching Buhari how to go about his job in a result-oriented way.

Let's face it, the Boko Haram war has become a political one and issues of that class in Africa hardly have solutions. The war has been a conduit pipe through which the national treasury is severely drained by unscrupulous government officials. A glimpse of corruption in the war is the allegedly mismanaged $2.1 billion arms deal funds which indicted the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki. There have also been cases of service chiefs buying choice properties abroad after diverting the financial benefits of their soldiers and also funds to acquire modern weapons.

Deby has remained in the forest in the North-east as he threatened Shekau to surrender or risk being killed. Some of his lawmakers reportedly visit the valiant leader in the bush to discuss state affairs. This might look like a reckless decision until one digs deep into the resume of Deby who has led massive attacks on enemies in the past. His exploits in Libya deserve two statues in Imo State. His soldiers also have some sense of pride in the battlefield.

Nigeria and other countries of the world have a common interest of seeking the end of the Boko Haram sect and ISIL (ISIS) West Africa Province which a part of the deadly group appears to have metamorphosed into. But as a Nigerian and a citizen of a country that claims to be the 'giant of Africa', I wish we could get to Shekau and his fighters before the Chadian soldiers. Locals have been cheering the Chadian troops as they sack the sect from villages and the truth is that their reputation is increasing at the costly expense of the Nigerian troops. I have been following the security crisis in the North for years as a Political Scientist and it's common knowledge that locals regularly withdraw from flashpoints as soon as the Chadian fighters move out. History has it that Nigerian troops are one of the best on land in Africa. We have recorded successes in peacekeeping operations across Africa but how come we haven't been able to replicate that against unconventional and ill-trained fighters of the sect? Politics is involved, it's simple.

I have always advocated for international help from advanced countries to beat the sect and I still maintain that stand. We need the technology and military capability of war-hungry countries like Russia and Turkey to pound the sect. We need to deploy stealth drones and satellites to pick the locations and movements of the terrorists with a drastic plan to attack them. We also need more of intelligence gathering to enable us to nip their threats in the bud before they manifest. The rumour that the Chadian troops are now the ones rescuing Nigerian troops from the captivity of the Boko Haram fighters indirectly shows weakness on our path.

The Chadians have sent out a clear message which is that Boko Haram is highly beatable. The battle can be won and ended so that lives will be saved, properties secured, and government funds used in prosecuting the war could be deployed in setting up infrastructural facilities in the country that would stimulate the economy and attract foreign direct investments in the long run. We can do this, the only thing missing is the kind of motivation Deby and his legion of Chadian soldiers carry in their hearts. Wake up Nigeria, wake up!

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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