By Magdalen Apiah
The war against terrorism in Africa is indeed an interesting one. Interesting in the sense that there are a series of variables outside the public domain that comes into play. Conspiracy theorists would argue that behind an event or situation, there is always a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation. This is the case of the ongoing Boko Haram war in North-East Nigeria, as well as the spread of terrorism in Africa.
So many arguments have consequently been advanced as regards the role of some foreign interest in the war, mainly for political or economic reasons. As a researcher, I took the time to study the trend in the operations of the Boko Haram group and concluded that indeed there is logistics support from France for some reasons.
As a start, Nigeria is surrounded by francophone countries whose allegiance is to France their colonial masters. And for any government to survive the political atmosphere in these countries, it must have protection from France. This is evident in the presence of a strong French military presence in these countries under the code-named Operation Barkhane.
Operation Barkhane is a supposed anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region. The operation has been designed with five countries and former French colonies that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. These countries are collectively referred to as the “G5 Sahel”. The operation is named after a crescent-shaped dune in the Sahara desert.
The question now is, with the presence of such an arrangement, how come the Boko Haram terrorist group has found the francophone countries as safe havens for their operations? It is on record that since the Nigerian military gained ascendency in the fight against terrorism in North-East Nigeria, the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists have retreated to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region from where they get logistic supplies, train, recruit new members and consequently launch attacks in Nigeria.
We must ask questions on the role of France in fueling the crisis. We must also ask how Boko Haram terrorists can take delivery of battle tanks and arms and ammunition from these countries even with the presence of Operation Barkhane. Whom are we fooling?
Another disturbing and questionable trend is the influx of French NGOs in North-East Nigeria under various nomenclatures, purportedly to be involved in humanitarian services, but in truth, they are giving Boko Haram logistic support in the form of drugs, monies, and arms. I recall a particular case that was investigated in Nigeria, where a supposed French NGO was intercepted with a large amount of cash en route the theatre of operations. The explanation that was put forward was that the monies were meant for the purchase of foodstuffs.
There was another case of a French cargo plane seen discharging military hardware in one of the Francophone countries. Incidentally, this was the same vehicle and desert bikes used by the Boko Haram fighters. This could also be a strange coincidence.
Like I stated earlier, we must tell ourselves the bitter truth by coming out to ask the French President Emmanuel Macron why the French authorities are interested in destabilizing the African continent. In the case of Nigeria, it is common knowledge that the economic resources in the Lake Chad Basin region are of interest to France. As such, for them to have access to these resources, North-East Nigeria must be rendered unstable to shift the attention so that they can perpetuate their nefarious activities.
And how are they involved in this? France has been selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram fighters. They have turned a blind eye to the various Boko Haram recruitment cells in most francophone countries where they have military bases. They have also infiltrated North-East Nigeria with phony organizations under the umbrella of rendering humanitarian services.
This is the stark reality on the ground. Lest I forget, it is also on record that some of these NGOs have taken up all available hotel spaces in Borno State and some making upfront payments for up to 10 years. As strange as this might sound, it is very real and an indication that there is more than meets the eyes in the Boko Haram war in Nigeria.
My research concluded that France is indeed involved in promoting terrorist activities in Nigeria and by extension Africa. They are creating a humanitarian crisis and, at the same time claiming to be addressing same. They are busy exploiting the mess they created to advance their economic interest in the African region. Indeed France is the new Father Christmas on terrorism. But for how long they intend to continue with this trade is left to be imagined.
I am also at a loss as to why the international community has maintained an unholy silence by refusing to call France to question in its inglorious role in fueling the humanitarian crisis in Africa. I am also afraid to state that should we allow the impunity by France to continue unabated; the consequences might be severe.
As in the case of Nigeria, the relevant authorities must rise to the occasion to address this challenge. Else, the fight against terrorism might be a mirage. The African continent must come together in one voice to resist the French incursion in the affairs of sovereign countries. The earlier we remove the veil from our faces to see the real motive of France, the better for the African continent. A word should be sufficient for the wise.
Apiah contributed this piece from Brussel, Belgium.