16 October 2014

MrAyeDee: Why #BokoHaram’s Freeing of 25 Camerounian hostages is bad for Nigeria

On October 7th, Nigeria’s GEJ met with the leaders of Niger, Chad and Cameroon at a one day Summit of the Lake Chad Basin Commission held in Niamey, Niger. Benin Republic’s President was present as an observer, and Cameroon’s Biya had sent his Foreign Minister as a representative.




Top of the agenda was taking on and destroying Boko Haram, which continues to hold sway over a large section of North Eastern Nigeria and the Far North Region of Cameroon.
While GEJ was at that meeting, REDACTED who is the REDACTED in Cameroon’s government was in that nation’s Far North region negotiating the release of 27 hostages.
These hostages included Akaoua Babiana, the wife of Cameroon’s deputy PM, 10 Chinese workers, the Lamido of Kolofata and 15 others held by Boko Haram.
The hostages had been abducted on May 16, 2014, at Waza and on July 27, 2014, at Kolofata, both in Cameroon’s Far North Region.
The final agreement for their release was reached late night, Friday, October 10th, and hostages were flown  to Yaounde early Saturday morning.
In exchange for their freedom, Cameroon’s government:
1) Paid Boko Haram a few million US$  (still trying to ascertain exact amount) most if not all of which came from China
2) Pledged to give the organization more room to operate and maneuver in Cameroon’s Far North Region without interference from the nation’s authorities.
These terms should give anyone interested in defeating Boko Haram grave cause for concern for a number of reasons.
On the first agreement:
Boko Haram’s Al-Bidayah (the Beginning) campaign is still very much in effect, so is Operation Zalzala (Earthquake), the plan to takeover Maiduguri.
The sect has been smuggling small arms into Maiduguri for a while, and it’s estimated that even though thousands of AK-47s and similar assault rifles have been successfully smuggled into the city, there are plans to bring thousands more in.
Since the bulk of Boko Haram’s current stock of small arms comes from the inventory of the Nigerian Army, and in recent times the insurgents have seized no new territory, safe to say supplies are running low.
With their connection to #IS, every US$ million they spend can bring in significant quantities of small arms.
With Maiduguri still a major objective, most shall probably end up there.
Of course, with this influx of cash, they can also procure and bring in artillery and heavy artillery to bolster defenses in other areas they control.
On the second agreement:
With their main training camps on the Cameroon side of the Mandara Mountain range, Boko Haram has already been able to operate freely within Cameroon’s Far North Region.
These camps contain not only their most hardened fighters, the abducted Chibok girls, but also leaders like Abubakar Shekau.
Consequently, not a stretch to assume this new agreement probably deals with removing any previous hinderance affecting movement of supply lines and ‘permission’ to operate beyond the Mountain range.
With places like Limani, Cameroon being a mere 134 km from Maiduguri (60km to Bama), Boko Haram can very easily create supply depots in that town (or others nearby), and replenish their mechanized and motorized infantry , without having to worry about an assault coming from the rear.
They can also rotate men in and out of areas they control (e.g Bama and Gwoza) which are under assault by the Nigerian Air Force and Army.
Postscript:
Overall, my assessment is that freeing the 27 hostages is at its best a pyrrhic victory against BH, and will have far reaching negative consequences for the Nigerian military and people down the line.
It has also shown that Cameroon merely pays lip service to Nigeria when it comes to tackling Boko Haram, and that China which claims to be a friend of Nigeria would choose to secure the lives of 10 chinese workers in exchange for putting the lives of tens of thousands of Nigerians at risk.
In other words, with friends like these, Nigeria continues to be on it’s own in this fight.

Written by @MrAyeDee

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