The December ultimatum given by President Muhammadu Buhari to crush Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east is looking highly unlikely as a result of operational, logistic and administrative setbacks that are beyond the control of the military authorities.
THISDAY findings have revealed that there is growing uncertainty about the deadline despite recent gains and the best efforts of the Service Chiefs, who have brought in new ideas and energy to the fighting troops.
However, the earlier momentum is waning with the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations looking like a stalemate owing to the change of tactics by the Boko Haram, the erratic attitude of Chadians towards effective take off of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and dwindling supply of arms and ammunition.
THISDAY had reported how the alleged reluctance of Chad to station its forces along its contiguous border with other member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) was said to be jeopardising the effective operations of the MNJT, which was recently reactivated to checkmate the activities of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT).
Sources within the military circle who have expressed concern over the unpredictable nature of Chad Republic in the ongoing war against Boko Haram in the North-east, attributed it to both economic sabotage and geopolitical strategy around the Lake Chad Basin.
The military sources noted that Chad is using the war to extract a lot of financial and strategic concessions from Nigeria. It was even revealed that one of the reasons the Nigerien Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) visited Nigeria was for the same financial support.
“Do you know that Nigeria has practically been forced to cede the headquarters of MNJT to Chad because of their blackmail, which was supported by their Francophone sister countries? They have turned Nigeria to a cash cow and tax haven.
“We know that the Federal Government released about $20million for the MNJTF, and each personnel are paid N1,500 per day. So we don’t know yet why the Chadians are reluctant and if they are not being paid,” the officer said.
The senior officer noted that line with the arrangement establishing the MNTF, each member countries including Nigeria, Chad, Niger Republic and Cameroon were expected to contribute troops towards effective control of the contiguous borders aimed at stopping easy movement of terrorists.
“This has however proved difficult because Chad has pulled away from their borders and has not contributed troops for the effective operation of MNJTF. As it stands now, it is like Nigeria is still practically piloting the whole process as Cameroun and Niger Republic are also busy dealing with increasing Boko Haram attacks within their respective territories,” a source explained.
This was also confirmed last week by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, who said the Chadian government was yet to contribute the needed troops to man their side of the common borders.
Olonisakin who disclosed this recently while fielding questions from journalists after meeting with the Nigerien Defence team led by their Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Seyni Garba, admitted that the military are having issues with the Chadians but the military authorities are working round the clock to address the issue.
He said: “The troops for the MNJTF are drawn from five nations, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic. Most of the troops have been deployed especially from Niger which is in the same sector with Nigeria and they are performing their roles effectively.
“The importance of this meeting is to deepen our collaboration, our cooperation and coordination to ensure that the menace of terrorism is brought to a logical conclusion soonest.
“Most of the countries in the MNJTF arrangement have deployed troops except for areas relating to Chad. They are having some issues which we are addressing, the commander of the MNJTF have gone round the countries involved in this operation to ensure that they are well deployed in their location.”
Further enquiries also revealed that the latest ambush by Boko Haram, which allegedly left some soldiers dead and several others missing, has caused a lot of apprehension and consternation about the feasibility of the December deadline.
Even though some of the officers and soldiers who confided to THISDAY could confirm that the missing soldiers have returned and joined their units, they were however uncertain about meeting the deadline.
The sources also complained that no new weapons, arms and ammunition have been supplied for some time now as they are fast running out of stock.
Similarly one of the soldiers close to the theatre of operation was much more sceptical about the missing colleagues, saying; “soldiers missing were about 125 were not accounted for as at then, however we heard they have returned but you know our people that they will never give you the correct number of troops