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Nigeria/ Bangladesh Military Partnership as a Vista in the War Against Terror – By David Onmeje

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In Nigeria, the war against insurgency gathered momentum since the inception of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. In some quarters, it was stated that the appointment of Service Chiefs indeed contributed to the way and manner Nigeria was able to confront the Boko Haram Insurgents that occupied several swathes of land in North-East Nigeria and over 16 local government areas in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

It has been stated in numerous forums that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Turkur Buratai has led the battle for the soul of Nigeria with the display of an unalloyed commitment to the unity of Nigeria through the introduction of novel ideas in the operations of the Nigerian Army since 2015.

The recent is the revelation that 223 officers of the Nigerian Army have so far received training in various military institutions in Bangladesh under the Nigeria/Bangladesh military partnership.

It would be recalled that sometime in 2017, the Bangladesh Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Hug was in Nigeria where he met with key government officials to discuss bilateral issues relating to strengthening the relationship between the Armed Forces of Nigeria and Bangladesh. He stated that “Nigeria sends many officers to train in Bangladesh in different training institutions like the National Defence College and Defence Chief of Staff College all in Bangladesh.”

This strategic partnership has seen to the training of over 223 military officers from the Nigerian Army from the over 30 military training institutions in Bangladesh. This much was corroborated by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who himself at some point in his military career attended a National Defence Course from the National Defence University in Bangladesh.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has stated that the training he received from the National Defence University in Bangladesh equipped him better for the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. “My sojourn in Nepal during the period exposed me to how efforts of the Bangladesh Defence forces combined to defeat the insurgents and criminals of the Chittagong Hills.”

It can be stated that the impact of the strategic military partnership between Nigeria and Bangladesh has yielded multiple gains for Nigeria, especially in the war against terrorism. This is on the heels that the lessons learned from the Bangladesh experience in dealing with insurgency have been valuable in Nigeria. Moreover, coupled with the fact that Bangladesh and Nigeria are strong military contributors to United Nations Peacekeeping operations and both countries seek for and work for peace and stability in the international community.

The Nigerian Army has indeed fared well concerning the fight against insurgency with the level of training its personnel have been subjected to. The training received by officers of the Nigerian Army in Bangladesh is an indication of the leadership style of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai that is harped on dynamism especially in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

According to Prof Stephen Bature of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, he opined that the strategic Military partnership between Nigerian and Bangladesh has yielded positives in the sense that the training the Nigerian Army has received from the military institutions in Bangladesh have been somewhat brought to bear in the fight against insurgency in Northeast Nigeria.

The Chief of Army Staff stated this much when he received the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr. Mohammad Shammeen Ashan during a courtesy visit at Army headquarters, He said that lessons he learned from Bangladesh as a student of the National Defence University in the art of counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism warfare contributed to the massive decapitation of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorist in the North-East by the Nigerian Army.

As simple as the above might sound, it must be noted that when military units participate in bilateral exercises with other countries, the interaction increases interoperability between the militaries, provides for cultural exchange and understanding, and offers an opportunity to expand each nation’s capabilities while exercising potential contingencies.

This is what the Nigeria/Bangladesh military partnership has brought to the table for Nigeria and it must to noted that the foresight displayed by the Chief of Army Staff, in seeing to the sustainability of the military pact with Bangladesh must be commended.

In an interactive session by Defence Correspondents in North-East Nigeria, it was stated that the strategies employed by the Nigerian Army in recent times have been quite alien to the Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters who have continued to suffer heavy casualties and retreating to the fringes around the Lake Chad Basin region.

“The operational strategy of the Nigerian Army in Northeast Nigeria is a blend exposure and the willingness to confront the Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters headlong and this has paid off handsomely as it has been stated in numerous forums that the Nigerian Army under the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai had made tremendous inroads in North-East Nigeria and other parts of Nigeria.”

It can be this stated that these are some of the positives from the strategic military partnership between Nigeria and Bangladesh are evident in the setback experienced by Boko Haram/ISWAP whose ranks have been highly decimated. Thus it has been put forward that the tipping point between muddling through and moving toward victory in Nigeria was the election of leaders who translated bold vision into action since the beginning of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015. Consequently, Nigeria has been able to transform its Army from an ineffective, garrison-bound band into an aggressive force that has crippled Boko Haram/ISWAP and other militant organization in the country.

The credit must go to the leadership of the Nigerian Army whose operational policies in ways too numerous to mention have brought about the much-needed bite in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency. The Chief of Army Staff admitted that what he learned from his study in Bangladesh indeed prepared him for the task ahead. This is indeed a welcome development, especially with the fact that he has been able to avail officers of the Nigerian Army that opportunity to benefit from the same training he received.
The number 223 might not sound like a big deal, but the implication is that these officers would in turn pass on knowledge to their various units and the consequent multiplier effect and boost on the morale of the troops in the battlefront.

Nigeria has indeed made substantial inroads in the fight against terrorism in the past four years, and this had been made possible through a combination of factors. Also, one of them is the strategic military partnership between Nigeria and Bangladesh. While Nigeria continues to bask in this partnership, it must be stated that the leadership style of the Chief of Army Staff came out glaring.

Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai is worthy of emulation by all and sundry who recently disclosed that the Nigerian Army would continue to explore the available opportunity for further training of its officers and soldiers in the areas of tactics, staff duties, and intelligence among others.
This is indeed a welcome development and an indication that Nigeria needs more of such partnership in the future.

Onmeje wrote this piece from London, United Kingdom.

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Opinion

The Scam In Deby’s Fight Against Boko Haram – By Francois Bonaventure

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In November 2014, Mahamat Bichara Gnoti, a political associate of Chadian President, Idriss Déby Itno, was arrested with missiles.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the missiles were meant for the terrorist group, Boko Haram and that the associate of Deby was indeed one of their suppliers of arms.

Since the arrest of Gnoti, not much has been heard about the case because as is widely known, the man is well connected with the Chadian President.

Th connection between him and the Chadian President was remarkable because of the claims to counter-insurgency  and anti terrorism stance of the Chadian President in the wake of Boko Haram attacks on Nigeria.

The Nigerian government, then led by President Goodluck Jonathan was irked by the activities of the terrorists especially the abduction of the over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State and wanted to do all it could, not to appear helpless.

That was when the idea of the multinational task force that operate within the sub region without hindrance was mooted and Nigeria bought into it wholesale.

The understanding of Nigeria was that since the terrorists were operating along the border towns and normally cross over to other territories when the heat turns on them, the best way to handle the situation was to seek the cooperation of those countries that Nigeria shares common border with so that military cooperation would be made feasible.

Nigeria shares border with Cameroun, Niger and Chad on the fringe affected by Boko Haram insurgency, but it was suggested to Jonathan that it was important he meets with the president of Chad, as they said a lot depends on his cooperation since his country links the operational  base of the insurgents.

Jonathan agreed and in spite of the status of Nigeria in the sub region,  travelled to Ndjamena to meet with Deby in his capital of Ndjamena.

If Jonathan had bothered to do  a little background check on his host, he would have been a little circumspect on his dealing with his Chadian counterpart.

Deby, is not new to schemes and subterfuges. He took over power from President Hissène Habré in December 1990 through a well organised rebellion and has since survived various rebellions against his own rule.

The highpoint of his scheme to remain in power was the removal of term limits for the president in 2006 paving the way for a life presidency.

This was the man Jonathan was dealing with and without realising what was happening  found himself in the meeting that had been prearranged to extort Nigeria.

But typical of Jonathan, even when he saw some prominent Nigerians on the team of the Chadian president ‘welcoming’ him to the crisis ridden country, he did not suspect foul play and went on with the deal and in fact, travelled  twice to Ndjamena to wrap up the agreement.

Jonathan after the meeting in N’Djamena, told newsmen that there was a need for Nigeria and her neighbours to intensify joint actions and cooperation to win the war against terrorism and insurgency.

He said, “If you look at the economies of Nigeria and Chad, both are linked. The Boko Haram people don’t ask permission to move from Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria.

“If the countries do not cooperate, we will not find it easy to win the war, because when the heat is strong in one country, the criminals and terrorists will go to  another one and hide. So we must work together and we are discussing along that line.”

But this was only the side Jonathan was exposed to.

Details of the negotiations that would emerge later indicated  that the Chadian President, had already been groomed to make certain financial demands on the Nigerian president, which he did and was paid handsomely before he accepted to allow his troops participate in the multinational task force.

Knowing how desperate Jonathan was, the Chadian president who is said to be worth  millions of dollars continued to squeeze his Nigerian counterpart any time he needs money using the participation of his troops and use of his territories as bait.

In March 2015, Deby was furious that the Jonathan government  negotiated a ceasefire with the Boko Haram in a deal he facilitated.

“I told President Goodluck not to open negotiations with terrorists … but it was a political choice,” Mr. Deby told a French magazine.

The Boko Haram openly denounced the ceasefire as they did not get anything from the deal and launched assaults on communities.

It was only then that Deby raised his voice against the ceasefire but made no mention of the amount that went with it.

The Nigerian government initially claimed splinter groups of the Boko Haram were responsible for the continued fighting, but later blamed the failure on sabotage while saying nothing about the money involved.

Deby and his collaborators continued to explore ways of bilking an unsuspecting government but unfortunately for them, Jonathan lost the 2015 elections and a new man, Muhammadu Buhari came in as president.

Seeing the commitment of the new helmsman to live up to his promise to defeat the insurgency and terrorism, the Chadian President put on the same act and had the Nigerian President visit him in his nation’s capital.

But President Buhari was a different meat to chew. After listening to the Chadian President with his so called commitment to fight the insurgents and the financial demands he was making on Nigeria, President Buhari saw through the plot to extort Nigeria, but rather than decline flatly, offered a diplomatic approach by offering to make the financial contribution to the multinational task force which was headed by Nigeria.

Deby did not like the idea and not long after, Chad’s cooperation in the multinational task force waned.

But Nigeria continued the fight and as the insurgents saw the renewed vigour from the Nigerian side, many of them took to their heels and ran into Chadian territories for cover.

This is because most of them are dregs of Chadian rebels that helped Deby to power when he ousted the regime of Hissen Habre.

Deby, knowing fully well that the terrorists were using his country as a base did nothing ostensibly to get back at the Nigerian president for refusing to make financial payments to him directly.

But the number of terrorists in his country continued to increase as Nigeria became unbearable for them.

When the terrorists could no longer fend for themselves as they could no longer cross over and raid Nigerian villages as they used to, they turned their guns on their fellow country men and women in Chad who called on the Chadian government to wade in.

As the Deby led goverment dilly-dallied , the people, whose lives were being snuffed out in hundreds by the terrorists rose in revolt against the Chadian government.

Knowing the extent his people can go if he fails to do something, the Chadian President shamelessly turned the heat on the Boko Haram who he was using to extort Nigeria and other countries.

But rather than let it lie low as a price he had to pay for his greed, Deby decided to use the attack as another opportunity to bend the hands of the Nigerian government by running a propaganda that he was leading the war from front.

Unfortunately some gullible Nigerians took the claim seriously and began to blackmail Nigeria.

But everyone knows it was not  the Chadian soldiers that have secured Nigeria and made it impossible for the insurgents to do as they wished all these years.

The recruitment of some unpatriotic elements to help Deby with his propaganda so that he would further extort Nigeria and share the loot with them has been exposed.

Bonaventure wrote this piece from London.

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RevolutionNow: Unveiling The Hidden Agenda of Nigeria’s Enemies – By Dauda Alkali

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The coronavirus pandemic has indeed brought the world to its knees. Countries in the world have adopted measures to contain the further spread of the virus in line with the advisory issued by the World Health Organization. (WHO).

Nigeria is not left out of this pandemic, and it is most impressive how the Federal government has responded so far in the containment of the coronavirus pandemic. I recall that the World Health Organization, as well as the United Nations, has commended the proactive steps taken by the Federal government of Nigeria. This is gladdening and gives a ray of hope that soonest Nigeria shall be free from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic reminds me of the RevolutionNow uprising that was planned in Nigeria by some that do not have the interest of the country at heart. It was such a horrifying experience for some of us that understood the impact it would have had on the economic and social fiber of the country.

That the government was able to nip it in the bud in record time remains our saving grace because the proponents were ferocious and adequately mobilized to unleash Armageddon in Nigeria. But the government responded promptly that indeed saved the day.

Some of us might have forgetten in a hurry that there was more than meets the eyes with the RevolutionNow protest. Probably they didn’t realize the quantum of funds that went into the ill-fated project. They also didn’t know that it was ultimately planned to destroy Nigeria by enemies of our great country that were not happy with the multiple gains recorded in critical sectors of our economy.

It was indeed a multidimensional war against the soul of Nigeria. And I dare say that chiefly the plot to destroy Nigeria through the RevolutionNow protest originated from Iran through their proxies in Nigeria, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and other militant groups.

What the majority of Nigerians do not know is that it was a plot orchestrated by the government of Iran to see to the disintegration of Nigeria in return for the fact the spiritual leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El Zakzaky was standing trial for acts of terrorism.

This also gave rise to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons through the Sahel routes for exclusive use by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. There was also the establishment of sleeper cells across the country with massive recruitments of young and brainwashed Nigerians by the IMN group.

As baffling as this revelation might sound, it was the starkness of reality that confronted Nigeria but for the swift response by the security agencies in Nigeria. Even though in some quarters, it was believed that the planned RevolutionNow protest was not to succeed, I dare say that with the quantum of funds and arms injected into the country from external sources, it was only a matter of time before the reality would hit us below the belt, and Nigeria would have been long history.

At some point, it was indeed baffling upon the realization that hundreds of millions of dollars were dedicated to Destroy Nigeria project by the Iranian authorities through the IMN. This is aside from the discreet funding of other terror groups in Nigeria.

The RevolutionNow protest was a three-pronged strategy that aimed to distract the government, confuse the citizenry and strike with full force. So much so that before Nigerians would realize what was happening, it would have been done and dusted. Nigeria was able to overcome this challenge because we had proactive political leadership and a security network that indeed rose to the occasion when it mattered most.

The planned RevolutionNow protest saw the IMN providing Hezbollah-style military training to hundreds of Nigerians in camps throughout Northern Nigeria.

For some of us that took out time to research extensively on the plot to destroy Nigeria quickly deciphered that the IMN was more than positioned to carry out the threat through massive recruitments, stocking of arms and ammunition, and other despicable actions that would aid their revolution against Nigeria. Little wonder why at some point, the IMN became aggressively involved in nationwide protests and frequently clashing with security operatives, which resulted in deaths.

The killing of a senior police officer in Abuja by members of the IMN during one of their protests indeed buttresses the point that the IMN is an armed and violent group whose excesses must be contained if Nigeria was desirous of peace.

The interesting thing now is that these agents of darkness have not given up on their nefarious plot to see to the disintegration of Nigeria. I dare say this time around they are more vociferous in their desire, and this much Nigerians must come to terms with and stay united in one voice to defeat a common enemy. These agents of darkness have continued to use every available opportunity to smuggle arms and ammunition into the country in an attempt to continue from where they stopped with the ill-fated RevolutionNow violent campaign.

This is the time for all Nigerians to be aware of the plot of these agents of darkness battling for the soul of Nigeria. This time around, they are coming out under a different nomenclature, and actively using the media to first off, cause confusion in the polity by promoting fake news. And if we must admit, the strategy of propagating fake news is gaining traction by the day. The overall aim is to make the people disgruntled with the leadership of the country for being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigerians must understand this strategy that is gaining traction by the day. It behooves on all well-meaning Nigerians to thread with utmost care with the kind of news they accept as a first, and process as a second. In this circumstance, the government must rise to the occasion as in times past to nip this emerging threat in the bud.

The rational thing to do in this circumstance is for the government and the people to be vigilant at all times. The desperation by these agents of darkness is not one that should be taken lightly for the continued growth and development of Nigeria. I salute the efforts so far; however, I feel more still has to be done hence this piece. It is hoped that those charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Nigerian experiences peace and progress must not relent. The time to act is now.

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Much Ado About Derby, Chadian Rebels And Boko Haram – By Evang Sunday Attah

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Last week, Chadian soldiers,  angered by an offensive on their men by the terrorist Boko Haram group, launched an onslaught on the insurgents and almost totally annihilated the remnants of the Boko Haram from their territory.

This is good given the bestiality of the insurgents, their recidivism and enormity of terror on innocent citizens.
Since the Chadian expedition, the Nigerian social media space urged on by a particular online publication that had made it a duty not to see anything good about the Nigerian armed forces,  began to sing the praises of the Chadian troops to the extent of giving the impression that the Chadians have done what Nigerians have not done in the fight against insurgency.
This was also worsened  by comments credited to the Chadian president, Idris Derby, that gave the impression that Nigerian troops are not playing their part on the war effectively.
But a pertinent question to ask is, how did the neighbouring Chad come to have such a high population of the insurgents in the first place when it started in Nigeria?
For anybody that has followed reports of the war against insurgency in Nigeria, they are two simple reasons Chad surged with the influx of the insurgents.
One, the insurgents are renegades of the terrorists who fled Nigerian territories and crossed over to the Chadian side after been mauled by Nigerian troops in the renewed wave of operations since Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai took over the command of the Nigerian army.
Since 2015, the insurgents have been wiped out and their bases destroyed and it became difficult for them to operate in Nigeria and many of them ran to countries that share borders with Nigeria including Chad.
The second reason in that due to the proximity of Chad to Nigeria and shared affinity with many communities in Nigeria, many Chadian citizens and rebels who had nothing to do had joined the ranks of the Boko Haram and found a safe haven to operate during the previous administration.
But with the renewed onslaught on the terrorists after the appointment of the current Chief of Army Staff, many of them decided to relocate to their country as they could no longer continue with the acts of banditry and for fear of being killed by Nigerian soldiers.
Nigerian troops in the last four years have done much more than the social media space is willing to admit in terms of defeating insurgency in the landscape.
For more than four years since the coming of the current administration, the terrorists have not found it easy operating on the Nigerian side the way they were used to.
Boko Haram terrorists under fire from Nigerian troops, run to take shelter in neighbouring African countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroun which they found less dangerous.
This has at several times frustrated the efforts of the Nigerian troops due to the diplomatic issues involved.
There was a time the insurgents came under intense fire from the Nigerian side that they had to blow up the bridge linking the communities on the border to make it impossible for Nigerian troops to cross over and continue the onslaught.
It would also interest people to know that the Nigerian government had in the past, tried to work out various arrangement for military cooperation with other African countries but these have  collapsed due to lack of trust and inadequate synergy for the joint effort.
At a point, the other countries quietly withdrew from the joint exercise leaving Nigerian troops to prosecute the war. But Nigeria was able to up the game and degraded the terrorists to the point where they could no longer launch attacks on Nigerian communities at will.
The fight became so successful that Nigeria no longer needed to wait for inspiration from other countries but trudged on till it began to win the respect of other nations.
In no time, Nigeria took back its leadership position in the fight and other nations began to watch keenly and copy from its strategy.
The success Nigeria recorded within the period, encouraged the other countries to begin to reconsider their positions on the war and began to once again mobilise troops for the fight.
It is within this period that Nigerian troops took the fight to the theatres of war and were able to penetrate the base of the insurgents at Sambisa Forest, took out a great number of them and destroyed their armoury and established a base at Camp Zero.
Nigerian soldiers also went after the insurgents and retook  military bases they had seized in towns like  Bama, Monguno and Gwoza.

Troops were also able to recapture territories captured by the terrorists which they severed from other parts of Nigeria and hoisted their flags.
The 14 local government that came under the authority of the insurgents were recaptured and liberated.
Internal security improved as many roads that were declared impassable due to the activities of insurgents were liberated and open for use.

The barricading of major roads by organizations and in worship centers in state capitals and other places was also reduced as people no longer fear conducting business within their premises.
Nigerian troops also put a stop to the  penetration of the hinterlands by terrorists  who were going as far as Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna and even to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, with their bloody campaigns.
Currently, Nigerian troops have put the terrorists in disarray.
They have made it impossible for them launch any attack on communities as they constantly repel them whenever they attempt to do so by destroying their bases and sending them fleeing in all directions.
This was the case in Biu, Michika, Maiduguri Garkida and other places where the insurgents had attempted to launch attacks in recent times.
So while we should commend the Chadian troops for how well it has performed in its latest effort to rid the sub region of terrorists, the Nigerian troops should be commended for setting the pace.

It takes more than one onslaught for the war on terrorism to be brought to an end hence the recent attack by the Chadian troops only comes as complementary to the efforts of Nigerian soldiers.
Many of our soldiers have died in this fight.  Many are in various hospitals with various degrees of injury.
The least we could do to appreciate them is to commend them.
We should not extend the kind of cynicism Nigerians display whenever their national team is playing another country and seems to be losing to issues of security.
We should learn to stand by our own to the very end.

Attah wrote from Abuja.

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