written by Obinna Akukwe
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Prof Ade Adefuye suggested recently that the United States deliberately refused to assist Nigeria with technology to fight Boko Haram. Adefuye made it known to members of the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday that “The Nigerian leadership… are not satisfied with the scope, nature and content of the United States’ support for us in our struggle against terrorists,”. He added that “We find it difficult to understand how and why in spite of US presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram is expanding and becoming even more deadly,”
Since the Boko Haram insurgency started, I am personally aware through reliable military and diplomatic sources that the United States had always availed Nigeria of the list of those they suspect to be sponsors of Boko Haram. Immediately after the United Nations House Bombings at Abuja on the 26th of August, 2011, the US alarmed President Goodluck Jonathan and provided him a list of Boko Haram sponsors with an advice to act fast before Nigeria disintegrates.
This fact formed part of a piece published earlier in 2012 titled ‘PDP Boko Haram and their 2015 Succession Politics’ where I stated that “Immediately after the bombings at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, intelligence reports indicted high level friends of government in the executive, legislature, senior party officials, elder statesmen and security officers including retired ones. It was expected that President Goodluck would seize the opportunity of the uproar and outrage against the bombings to confront the indicted senior members of the party. Instead he chose to appeal to some of them to turn a new leaf. Emboldened by presidential timidity the murderers recruited more high level personalities, hitherto sitting on the fence, into the murderous chess game”.
The president continued to foot drag on taking actions till the Madallah Christmas Day Bombings which took 80 lives in the same year before a traumatized Goodluck Jonathan admitted two weeks later on the 8th of January 2012, for the first time, that Boko Haram Sponsors have infiltrated his government.
The military authorities, which was at the time under Generals Owoiye Azazi as NSA and Azubuike Ihejirika as Army Chief including other service chiefs pushed for the arrest of the political sponsors of the group, most of which were in the ruling party. Jonathan was said to have replied that arresting key political figures would scatter his government. Thus political expediency and 2015 elections permutations overshadowed the earlier resolve of the military authorities to stamp out the insurgents until some of them decided to help themselves with a bit of the national cake politicians are looting with impunity, before their tenure expires. This turn of events led to the frustration of Azazi, who was aware of the mistrustful observation of the US, which came to Asaba and exposed to the nation that the real sponsors of Boko Haram are in the PDP.
Azazi was hounded for his frank observation till Jonathan was forced to sack him as NSA. He was however replaced with a northerner. Months after Azazi’s sack, contrary to the advice that some of us gave him, he continued to gallivant around Jonathan until his enemies (sponsors of Boko Haram) plotted an helicopter accident for him. All these developments were not lost on the US military and defense analysts and advisers.
The public outcry against the abduction of some 276 girls of Christian background from Chibok, by the terrorists, and the fear that if the conspiracy is misunderstood by Nigerian Christians, a religious conflict might ensue, coupled with other strategic reasons not excluding humanitarian, the US volunteered to help Nigeria rescue the Chibok girls and turn the tide against the insurgents.
What US military officials met on ground physically physically was enough for any sane nation not to commit its troops and weapons into operations likely to be sabotaged even before take-off.
1 It was the US that first alerted the world that 10 Generals of the Nigerian Army were among 15 officers being secretly investigated for passing sensitive information to Boko Haram.
2. It was the US that officially verified information from local observers, villagers and hunters that Boko Haram had split the Chibok Girls into three, taking them into different camps.
3 It was the US that confirmed that due to probable high level sabotage, the only way to release the Chibok girls would be through high powered negotiations since any attempt to embark on a rescue operation would likely be sabotaged, endangering the lives of both the Chibok Girls and the US troops.
4. The US military officials, after interacting with the rank and file and inspecting what is on ground in Borno 7th Division specifically created to contain the militants, alerted their home country that there is a deliberate attempt to issue the combatants with inadequate ammunition, thereby making them easy target for the insurgents.
5 The US military officials discovered that funds meant for the welfare of troops while in the combat zone is being scammed from the top, and they fingered top political sources and their military collaborators.
6 The US military officials discovered that in some cases where enough ammunitions were issued, as in the case of Mohammed Kur Barracks, Bama, that officers deliberately misled their troops to abandon their position including caches of weapons and armory for use by the insurgents.
7. The fall of Bama, despite the heavy assemblage of arms, ammunitions and the recently improved welfare of soldiers, have been a source of discussion within informed US military circles till date. The US authorities believe that with secured supply lines between Bama and the Divisional Headquarters in Maiduguri, a three hour journey through bad roads, and another support military base in Konduga, Nigerian soldiers have no business fleeing Bama.
8 The US believes that the moment Boko Haram overran the prestigious Police Mobil Training Facility in Gwoza, the Nigerian Police Force lost its pride to the insurgents, and gave them the boost to plot the fall of Bama and the ill-fated march to Maiduguri though Konduga, which was halted by soldiers and civilian JTF by the mercy of God.
9 The US is still wondering how weapons which belongs to the Nigerian Army easily gets into the hands of the insurgents and they are still investigating all the routes through which the Nigerian Army supposedly donated or sold the weapons to them.
10 The Heroic welcome of the ruling PDP gave the political founder of Boko Haram, and former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, and how an airport closed for months over security concerns, was opened just for the use of the former governor, was a political mis-step from Jonathan’s men which raised concerns within the US.
11 The internal sabotage which led to the botched phased release of the Chibok girls was a source of worry, especially when it was discovered that two groups played role in the botched operation independently, without the knowledge of the other. The first group has the Presidency fingered while the second group believes that opposition financiers of Boko Haram created the fear that botched the earlier scheduled release of the Chibok girls.
12 The US tipped off South African authorities that fund for illegal purchase of arms is being carried through their shores, and they suspected that the arms might end in the hands of the insurgents. The South African authorities, bent on ridding Africa of this scourge, failed to cooperate with the unknown arms vendors and buyers.
13. The US believes that any lethal weapon they give to the military authorities might end up in the hands of the insurgents, and that any deployment of American troops as combatants would be easily sabotaged, their soldiers captured and another dimension to the war on terror will be introduced.
14 The US believes that if the Nigerian Government handles high level corruption, poverty, unemployment and social unrest will reduce drastically and the insurgents may find the business of bloodletting unattractive.
The Nigerian Government knows why the US cannot commit sensitive men and materials to aid its fight against terror. Prof Adefuye’s vituperation, though patriotic, is highly inconsistent with situations the US met on ground. Blaming the foreigners for letting Nigeria down in the fight against Boko Haram is sweeping sensitive puzzles under the carpet. The erudite professor should interact with the US military advisers and officials in Washington and around the US, and they will avail him of the rot they met on ground and get more insight into why the US Govt refused to assist Nigeria with the needed technology to fight Boko Haram and maybe he will apportion the blames more proportionally