Chris Steven, Abuja
Security sources in the North East have revealed that crude oil refining exploration in the Lake Chad basin might be the primary motive of the sponsors of the Boko Haram terrorists and the real reason the terrorists have launched their recent comeback.
Nigeria shares borders with francophone countries like Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. These boundaries are in the North east where activities of the Boko Haram terrorists are carried out.
According to a highly placed source who pleaded anonymity, the motive behind the operations of the Boko Haram terrorists is politically motivated with the aid of foreign sponsors who have their eyes on the crude oil deposit in the Lake Chad region.
“Recent advances have given the militants two clusters of territory which form a strategic crescent around the Borno State capital Maiduguri, a swathe of land along the southwestern shore of Lake Chad, a number of towns in Yobe and Adamawa in Nigeria and along the unmanned Cameroonian border, and Fokotol and surrounding areas in northern Cameroon,” says the source.
Findings also revealed quarters that Idriss Deby, the Chadian President has fostered a cordial relationship with Boko Haram. Indeed, the Chadian Government has been criticized for its inaction against Boko Haram, only joining anti-insurgency operations in July 2014 after a suspected intervention François Hollande, former French President.
Chad is also understood to be benefitting from the delayed commercial exploration of oil on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, as it taps oil from shared underground reserves irrespective of geographical sovereignty.
It is reported that some prominent Nigerian and Chadian politicians have personal business interests in the Chadian oil industry and consequently have a vested interest in ensuring the Boko Haram militancy continues to destabilize north-eastern Nigeria and prevent Nigerian commercial oil production.
Another source in the know of the happenings in the international arena stated that “due to the scale of potential revenues and the importance of these funds for the Chadian Government and investors, it is likely these oil fields will be rigorously protected from potential insecurity.
A sustained Boko Haram attack on the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, is also unlikely, because of a 3000 strong French anti-Islamist force headquartered in the city.”
Security sources said they have established that Chadian citizens are serving as foot soldiers for Boko Haram, which is attempting a dramatic comeback with scores of pocket attacks and recently the killing of over 40 people that included staff of Nigeria’s NNPC and those of the University of Maiduguri researching on the crude oil prospects in Lake Chad.
Oil reserves exist in the Chad basin, which is centered in Lake Chad that is surrounded by Niger, Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria. Chad is an exporter of oil which runs in 1070 km pipelines through Cameroon.
The Boko Haram insurgency has conveniently provided Chad, under the government of Idriss Deby, unfettered access to oil under Nigeria’s soils through 3D oil drilling from within its territorial borders, which the country exports.
According to investigations, the neighboring Francophone colonies of France, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger without compensating Nigeria are now drilling off and selling significant quantities of Nigeria’s oil under partnerships with multinationals. It was also discovered that big players have abandoned Nigeria and invested heavily in its neighbors.
Billions of dollars have been spent by multinationals in the Lake Chad exploration in Chad, and this oil is tapped through Chad.
The over two billion oil reserves are flowing through the Chad-Cameroon pipeline leaving Nigeria out of the loop.
A top staff of one of the international oil corporations based in Chad stated that “currently, oil from Lake Chad being drilled by the Republic of Chad is transferred to a stationary FPSO –Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel, which can store over 2 million barrels of oil and processed oil shipped through tankers to the international refineries at the Port of Le Havre in France.”
In 2000, the Chad–Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project was developed to increase the production capacity of oil fields near Doba in southern Chad, and to create a 1,070-kilometre (660 mi) pipeline to transport the oil to a floating storage and offloading vessel (FSO), anchored off the coast of Cameroon, near the city of Kribi.
France’s export credit agency COFACE alongside some international financiers provided funding for the project. COFACE provided the sum of $200 million.
A staff of COFACE who spoke without mentioning his name asked “why are most Boko Haram commanders’ French-Speaking nationals of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon?
“The history of France and French colonies sponsoring Boko Haram terror did not first become publicly known in 2014. This has been commonly known information in global security circuits. It is no surprise that when Boko Haram abducted 234 girls from Chibok, the meeting to address the crises was immediately summoned at the behest of the French President and was held under his watch in Paris.”
According to a report by Reuters in 2013, it stated that “France was said to have sponsored Boko Haram with a donation of a whopping sum of 3.15 million dollars which was supposedly paid as “ransom” for the release of a single abducted French family. In that transaction, France had Cameroon also release several top Boko Haram commanders who were in Cameroonian jails.”
“Most Boko Haram leaders are French-speaking nationals of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, including Abu Mahjin, Mamman Nur, and Khalid al-Barnawi. Boko Haram propaganda messages are also almost exclusively broadcast and promoted through French/France media.”
It is believed in some quarters that exploring oil in Chad Basin by Nigeria is against French interest. Chad is a key country of the French presence in Africa, located in a strategic area. Chad belongs to the “French family” of Central Africa with Gabon and Congo.
In 1976, France and Chad signed a technical military cooperation agreement. It currently contributes to the stability of Chad and the sub region. The Hawk force provides two permanent missions: it can ensure, if necessary, the protection of French interests and, in particular, the security of French nationals residing in Chad: and by the technical cooperation agreement signed between France and Chad, it provides logistical support to the Chadian armed and security forces.
For example, during the Darfur crisis, France took many steps to support Chad, in order to find a political solution and address the regional dimension of this crisis, especially the security and humanitarian aspects, and to help the regions concerned: France initiated the Security Council resolution on the deployment of an international presence in eastern Chad and the north-east of the Central African Republic, to which it was the main contributor.
In return for the support, Chad has reciprocated in a couple of ways. One of which is the three-year sponsorship deal with France’s FC Metz football team by the Chadian tourism office in 2016. The deal was organized on behalf of the Chadian government by pan-African media group LC2, which has recently launched a television channel in Chad.
Another source in the know of the relationship between France and Chad said that “Since France failed to break-up Nigeria by supporting the Biafra rebels during the 1967-1970 civil war, how it could hope to succeed so many years after independence and generations of intermingling? The answer is that it comes well prepared and has been operating with silence and cynical diplomacy as a strategy.”
A report entitled “Boko Haram’s anti-aircraft training camp uncovered in Niger” in the Punch newspaper of 19th February 2014, disclosed that 20 insurgents were arrested at a camp located in Diffa, just across the Nigerian border which specialized in training for the use of long-range anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. According to the report, “Security personnel believe new arms were being acquired with ransom money.”
Similarly, Brimmy Olaghere, President of the United African Diaspora States (UADS) at a public lecture held at the National Women Centre, Abuja, accused France of providing finance, equipment, and training to the Boko Haram sect in a bid to continue with its destabilization plot against Nigeria and Africa in general. “I want to use this platform to let Nigerians know that France is ready to come and invade Africa and Nigeria is the target. They are right now training Cameroon. France is fighting you, and it is going to throw you out of your home, and it is your duty to defend Nigeria at all costs.” He stated.
He further stated that “France has already deployed 60,000 troops to Africa, preparatory to invade the whole continent of Africa. This figure would include soldiers stationed in all the Francophone countries for decades and the thousands added during the recent surge achieved by engineering brand new crises in Mali, Libya, and the now balkanized Central African Republic.”
“In 2006, the French completed their takeover of Chad when their troops saved the neck of President Idris Deby after ferociously armed militia surrounded him inside the country’s capital in over 400 Hilux trucks mounted to the teeth. The mindless insurgency in Nigeria is, of course, being directly fuelled through the Algerian-Libyan-Malian-Nigerien terror trail” he noted.
It is no longer news that Nigeria is surrounded by former French colonies, and with the narrative of the French government towards ending insurgency with the presence of French troops in these countries, Boko Haram rebels still thrive unabated.
For example, it was reported that hundreds of Boko Haram members stayed at training camps with Malian militants for months in Timbuktu, learning to fix Kalashnikovs and launch shoulder-fired weapons, under the full glare of Operation Barkhane.
A man who said he was hired to cook for the militants said Boko Haram members trained for about ten months at what is now a bombed-out customs-police building on Timbuktu’s desert fringe, intermingling with a local al-Qaeda offshoot called Ansar Dine.
Commanders from Boko Haram and Ansar Dine gave newcomers 4,000 West African CFA, the local equivalent of N1, 250, to enlist, the cook said.
After training, he said, recruits were given about N4, 700—their first taste of money following months of sharing bathrooms with scores of militants.