Neighbouring Chad Republic has slid deeper into insecurity following the killing of the country’s president, Idris Debby by secessionist groups on Monday after he won for the 6th time another tenure since he forcefully took power in 1990.
The wider implication of his death for Nigeria is that being a reliable ally in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram, instability in Chad will worsen Nigeria’s security challenges in the Northeast, experts have warned.
President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged the support of the late President and his country in Nigeria’s battle against insurgency.
He described the late Deby as having “played a very active role in our regional joint collaboration in the military campaign against the Boko Haram terrorists.”
President Buhari said he was “a friend of Nigeria who had enthusiastically lent his hand in our efforts to defeat the murderous Boko Haram terrorists that have posed grave security challenges not only for Nigeria but also our African neighbours, particularly Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.”
He added that “the death of Deby will surely create a big vacuum in the efforts to jointly confront the Boko Haram terrorists and the Islamic State West Africa Province.
“I’m deeply shocked and devastated by the sudden death of Idriss Deby on the battlefront to defend the sovereignty of his country.”
International Affairs experts, including a former Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, Ambassadors Bulus Lolo, Ogbole Amedu-Odu and Mr Paul Ejime, described Deby’s death as a bad omen for Nigeria and the Sahel region.
Deby, 68, was considered a vanguard in the international fight against armed groups in West and Central Africa.
He was also a key ally of Western Powers. Under him, Chadian troops became the key regional force in the battle against ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahel and Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin.
Chad is the headquarters of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which is fighting Boko Haram. The country also enjoys the conference of Western Powers.
Deby’s son, Gen. Mahamat Idris Deby took over power as head of a Military Transition Council that will serve for 18 months before elections are held.
However, this is against the constitutional provision which allows the Speaker of parliament, in case of death and incapacitation of the leader, to take charge for 40 days before elections are held.
The uncertainty in the country deepened with the dissolution of democratic institutions by the new leader, who slammed curfew and three months mourning period.
Prof. Akinterinwa said Deby’s death raises a fundamental problem of regional security.
“His style of dictatorship was acceptable to his countrymen because he led by example by participating in fighting terrorism. The Western leaders found an ally in him for leading anti-jihadists battle. Remember, last year April, he led Chadian soldiers to fight Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest. A vacuum has been created. How they would get a worthy and trusted replacement would be the issue now. The insurrectionists appeared to have won the battle but not the war. They luckily killed him but the war to take over Chad by them is still ongoing,” he said.
Akinterinwa added: “If we do not have a strong force to counter the insurgents, we’ll see Boko Haram freer than ever before in launching attacks on Nigeria. Nigeria cannot do much in this case because of the expanse land of Sambisa forest where the Boko Haram take refuge. We need Niger, Cameroon and Chad to jointly fight them. Our country is even on many battlefields – banditry, Eastern Security Network (ESN) and the one in the Southwest. You can’t fight many battles and succeed without good weapons.
“If the stolen money is diverted to acquire weapons including powerful surveillance technology to monitor the activities of Boko Haram without sending thousands of soldiers, then you can curtail their aggression and successfully fight them.”
Lolo, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affrais, said: “Instability in Chad is not good for us. Beyond that, Chad is the headquarters of the multi-national force fighting against Boko Haram in the Northeast.
“The military has been very careful to bring on the 37-year-old young man who is a general. It is a strategic move to ensure a kind of protection of the dynasty.”
The former envoy said it is not going to be an easy task for the young Derby.
“The choice is a herculean task. Chad does not have a Vice President and the position of the prime minister is a ceremonial one.”
Amedu-Ode, one-time spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said a destabilised Chad would likely impact negatively on Nigeria.
“Whatever is the situation, Nigeria must take a keen interest because Chad is central to the fight against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the Sahel region.
“We cannot afford to have a destabilised Chad as it will negatively impact the fight against terrorism which Chad is central to. There must be stability within the country’s neighbourhood.”
Ejine said: “Deby’s absence could lead to further crisis within the G5 Sahel region which comprises Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad,” he said.
Chad under the late Deby, Ejime said, helped Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.
He urged the Nigerian government to act fast before the rebel group that claimed responsibility for Deby’s death turn their attention to the country.
SUPPORT LEAKBLAST JOURNALISM OF INTEGRITY AND CREDIBILITY
Good journalism costs a lot of money.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble Endeavor.
By contributing to LeakBlast, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.