Special Report by Simon Ateba/Lagos
A year after it was formed, the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram remains starved of funds pledged by African heads of state, including the $100 million promised by Nigerian leader, Muhammadu Buhari in June last year.
Created in Niamey, Niger, on 20 January 2015, and adopted by African heads of state and government on 31 January last year during the 24th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the regional task force remains starved of funds needed to fight a group of about 10, 000 ruthless terrorists.
While money remains scarce and African leaders play deaf and blind to the needs of the gallant soldiers, Boko Haram terrorists, led by Abubakar Shekau, continue to wreak havoc in the region, killing, bombing, kidnapping and driving people away from their homes and farms.
Last year alone, they killed about 3500 people in the region, sent hundreds of thousands away from their homes and farms and kidnapped many girls believed to have been turned into sex slaves. They also recruited many boys and turned them into master killers and suicide bombers.
In all, Boko Haram has killed more than 25, 000 people in Nigeria in seven years and over 1200 in Cameroon, including 67 soldiers since 2013, as well as hundreds of people in Chad and Niger.
These four countries; Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, form, along with Benin, the MNJTF as the regional task force is known. The force has roughly 8700 people and is headquartered in Ndjamena, Chad. But money is what is lacking the most.
Terrorism is a global war and America has been trying to help with security vehicle donations to Cameroon and Nigeria and the deployment of some personnel to Garoua in Cameroon. But African countries that may be affected the most if Boko Haram atrocities spread beyond West Africa, have remained deaf, looking the other way and pretending that nothing was happening.
During the last gathering of African heads of State on 31 January 2016 in Ethiopia, apart from announcing that Idriss Déby Itno of Chad was replacing Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as the Chairman of the African Union, the gathering was almost useless as far as fighting terrorism and Boko Haram in particular was concerned.
Yet, there had been announcements last January before the gathering that funds would be raised by the Pan-African Commission to tackle Boko Haram tooth and nail. About 15 billion naira was expected to be raised (50 billion francs Cfa) but nothing happened in the end.
America had promised to donate only 5 million dollars while it is spending billions of dollars in the Middle East to fight ISIS. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March last year and has since modelled their barbarism after the Middle East killers.
President Buhari had only released 21 million dollars out the 100 million he had promised. Buhari recently promised again that he will fulfil his pledge. SimonAtebaNews could not confirm whether Cameroon, Niger, Benin and Chad, countries directly involved in the war against insurgency have contributed a dime.
With lack of funds, Boko Haram had stepped up attacks in Cameroon and Nigeria in recent weeks, killing hundreds of people, burning women and children alive and sending many away from their homes even as the Nigerian government claimed that the terrorists have been decimated.
With Boko Haram in West Africa, Shabab in East Africa and Al-Qaeda in Lybia and elsewhere, terrorism should be of great concerns to African leaders, yet most of them want only two things, gain power and die in power, like President Paul Biya of Cameroon who has ruled for 33 years but still wants to contest in 2018, or President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who has ruled for 30 years and just won a fifth term in office in a discredited election full of rage and intimidation.
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