Friday 6 August 2021


The United States Institute for Peace (USIP) report titled: 'Civilian-led governance & security in the Lake Chad Basin' was dissected in Abuja on the 27th of July, 2021 by a select group which included me. The meeting was hosted by the USIP Country Director. Some of the participants are:

*Amb. Abdu Zango - USIP Country Director

*Amb. Mamman Nuhu - Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC)

*Dr. Usman Bugaje - Covener, Arewa Research & Development Project (ARDP)

*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Independent Conflict Transformation Strategist

*Dr. Chris Kwaja - Modibo Adamawa University of Technology, Yola

*Brig-Gen Saleh Bala - White Ink Institute for Strategy, Education & Research (WISER)

*Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim - Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD)

Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

The parley focused on three major areas:

The implications of: 

*Boko Haram's collaboration with criminal banditry in NW Nigeria. This is similar to the Sahel three-frontier zone between the borders of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali for the LCBC and countries involved in defeating the BH insurgency.

*ISWAP consolidating joint forces with BH following the death of former leader, Shekau and attempts to end the insurgency.

*The death of Chadian President, Idris Deby, non-constitutional take-over by his son, Mohama Deby and the war against insurgency in the Lake Chad Region. We note here that Mohama's mother is from another tribe and he had been controlling the Elite Guard for long time before his father's death.

In my intervention, I was in sync with the recommendation in the USIP report that a Public Protection Service Commission (PPSC) should be set up to coordinate a unified inter-agency cooperation between the NPF, NSCDC, NIS, CJTF and non-state actors in the security sector. Such collaboration should embrace community policing. Besides, I noted that defeating insurgents is not an end in itself. Beyond insurgency, a new era of intensive and inclusive peace-building process should commence, which would take care IDPs, women and children, PLWDs, etc.

I noted that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics for peaceful purposes should be examined with a view to employing same to locate remnants of insurgents, conduct aerial view of targeted areas, ensure adequate perimeter fencing, etc. In the same vein, DDRR should not be executed in a shoddy manner. The 'safe corridor' for repentant insurgents should be indeed safe for citizens in ungoverned spaces. Former insurgents should not be hastily unleashed on their home communities.

The setting of the meeting. Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (backing the camera). Opposite her is Amb. Mamman Nuhu (Executive Secretary, LCBC)

Many participants noted that since 2009, the conflict in NE Nigeria has resulted in the deaths of approximately 35,000 people. According to the UNDP, the conflict could claim 1.1 million lives in Nigeria alone. The BH insurgency cuts across the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Chad, creating a regional conflict in the LCB. The LCBC has developed a comprehensive study with the support of the AU, titled 'Regional strategy for the stabilisation, recovery & resilience of the BH-affected areas of the LCB'.

The study establishes a common approach and inclusion framework for all stakeholders to support a timely, coordinated and effective transition from stabilisation to early recovery and resumption of the stalled development process in the zone. According to Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, the strategy was put together in anticipation of the expected success of the MJTF to quickly defeat the insurgents. But the insurgency has endured for the past 12 years, and appears to be in no hurry to be completely defeated.

Over the years, two BH factions have emerged - Ansaru & ISWAP. Amb. Mamman Nuhu said that in the past one year, however, the ISWAP faction has gained strength. There has been a dramatic turn with the death of Shekau, leader of Ansaru. It's important to note that the ISWAP faction, unlike Shekau's does not attack and kill members of the community. For some time now, the ISWAP faction has been imposing taxes on the communities they have control over, and offering them protection in return!
The implication of ISWAP's approach is that farmers, herders, fishermen, etc. are attracted because they appreciate the protection provided. Note that the four states in the LCB are not able to provide such protection.

The BH insurgents have been collaborating with criminal bandits in NW Nigeria, especially in the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger. Some bandits have been converted to ideologically focused terrorists. With the death of Idris Deby, the 68 year old 'warrior president' of Chad, his 37 year old son, Mahamat, took over power in disobedience of the Constitutional order of secession. Jibrin Ibrahim believes that under pressure, Mahamat is likely to prioritise regime protection above help for neighbours (including Nigeria).

The near consensus at the parley was that we need to move away from focusing solely on the shrinking Lake Chad to strategies for conflict transformation in the region. Besides, the Lake Chad Basin Commission Report (LCBCR) and the Buhari Plan could provide the needed starting point in this positive direction. Do you share the palpable optimism of these panelists?... 

Related Links

*Islamic state determined expansion into Lake Chad Basin

*Islamic state wants to set up 4 caliphates in Borno state to oversee activities in the Lake Chad Basin & beyond

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