By Karen Goulding
The Nigerian military is in a bind. It makes progress in its war on Boko Haram insurgents in the country’s northeast only to see the progress relatively rolled back by forces that appear to have defied all efforts directed at making them relent and allow Nigeria have peace. The output of the sabotage by these forces is best reflected by the reported ambushes and surprise attacks on military convoys and outposts by Boko Haram terrorists, attacks that have all the markings of being plotted in territories outside the boundaries of Nigeria and organized by interests that increasingly show sophistication available only to state actors.
What makes the situation tough for the military is the mistake being collectively made by Nigerians, who have been socialized to see everything about the insurgency from the prism of high politics. Certainly politics is involved but not the local variant that citizens have in mind, the type being highlighted by armchair critics that are half informed about the true nature and import of what is truly happening in their country and to their people.
A more circumspect assessment of what is going on would have seen these critics taking second looks at the scenario where Agence France-Presse (AFP) is always first with the news about the terrorists making gains against the military – the high casualty figures it usually report on the military side are subsequently successfully disputed by authorities. AFP has also come to be the official outlet that Boko Haram uses to distribute its videos and audio recordings, which has sort of conferred some measure of legitimacy on the group, a situation that has created the impression that Nigerian troops are fighting a rival country and not a bunch of bloodthirsty terrorists.
These AFP’s report often cite “military sources” to publish reports that can best be described as intended to terrorize the wider population. It is of note that AFP has never treated reporting of terrorism in this manner when dealing with western economies. When dealing with these countries, AFP tends to stick with positions that have been verified by persons authorized to speak on the matter – even where it used unanimous sources it makes the efforts to get a corresponding official position and not a conflicting official position.
Knowing its French origin and nationality, it is no surprise that AFP has this belligerent approach towards Nigeria, after all, the hand of France in the Boko Haram scourge is well known and documented. The northeast of Nigeria and the swathe stretching from Northern Mali through Algeria to the Mediterranean Sea looping back through Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Central Africa is a region to which France sees itself as being the imperial owner. Since Nigeria is not a francophone outpost, the French approach has been to support any form of insurrection in the northeast to allow the creation of a micro nation, possibly ruled by a despot, that will be a colony of France. It tried to pull such trick with the failed bid to prop up Azawad as an independent country in Northern Mali – with disastrous consequences of course.
Any enclave created by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and answering to France automatically gives the French access to the oil reserve in the Lake Chad Basin, while the reserve is not proven advancement in mining technology like fracking makes it an attractive prospect, tempting enough for France to risk regional instability in Western Africa to secure. The possibility of mining Uranium in the region is an icing on the cake at a time when alternative energy source is an in thing. Hence the inordinate ambition of France to win a new country from Nigeria’s northeast to which AFP is pledged.
It is important not to lose sight of the reality that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have on several occasions reported seeing aircrafts of French origin airdropping supplies to Boko Haram terrorists during wee hours. Curiously, with the resources it has devoted to reporting that part of Nigeria, AFP has never deemed it fit to report on this unusual sightings in a way that will bring closure and reassure all as to the real mission of these aircrafts.
AFP, and France as the hands inside the glove, have never thought to interrogate the terrorists’ strategy of launching attacks into Nigeria from inside the trio of Niger, Chad and Cameroun only to flee back into these same countries once Nigerians troops is hot on their trail. It will seem crimes against humanity are okay so long as they are being committed against Nigeria and by countries loyal to France and its perverted interest in Nigeria.
It is interesting that AFP is not singing from a new hymn book. It is regurgitating a tired script, one written by France and the other sick entities in its unholy alliance. In the coming weeks, the “international NGOs” components would be drafted into the fray and they will alleged that troops committed war crimes when they were chasing down the Boko Haram terrorists sent to snuff life out of them. AFP will then latch on the reports issued by these NGOs to chorus the refrains about crimes against humanity, a crime that Boko Haram terrorists are never capable of committing in the estimate of French AFP and all the other elements that will join the charade.
The Nigerian military has to wake up to the reality that this is the war it is fighting. Boko Haram is merely a component, a facet of a monster that has too many tentacles. Even when troops roundly defeat terrorists in any particular battle AFP can go ahead to tell the world otherwise and its account is the one to be believed by the publics, where the military is able to prove that it decimated insurgents it is not unusual for the body count to be declared civilian casualty, “evidence of crime against humanity”.
What is then needed is for the Nigerian military to expand the war beyond the physical battleground and clash with these entities on its own terms. It can begin by letting Nigerians and world know the magnitude of evil it is battling, which would then let people know how these vampires have recruited foreign fighters, some from the Islamic State (ISIS), to wage war against Nigeria. These are the people that AFP is fronting for and supporting with questionable reporting.
Goulding is a security communication Expert and writes from the United Kingdom