Victor C. Ariole writes that it is time to discuss the future of Lake Chad
It was a portentous statement when the C- in- C commented that the 1400km-stretch of the Niger Republic and Nigeria border is in the hands of God. And the stretch that unites both the 1400km Chad and Cameroon remains boundary-less zone. With the combined forces of elements of NATO and elements of Warsaw Pact operating in Niger Republic as per how to control the Uranium fields – about to be opened beyond Airlit and Akonan 900km of Niamey northward, now extending to Imouraren, Abokorum, Madouela, Agadez and Azelik, all within a radius of 1000km of Niamey, Niger Republic’s presidential election pitched between “inclusiveness” as led by the Arab, Mohammed Bazoum, supported by the outgoing Hausa “Zaki” Mahamadou Issoufou and the ECOWAS loyalist, former deposed president, another Hausa, Mahamane Ousmane, should be of interest to Nigeria. First round of that election produced 39% and 17% respectively for the former and latter. Come February 21, so near, 7.5million Nigeriens will be out again to cast their final votes on how they intend to see Niger Republic governed – either as minority inclusive nation or as Hausa or Djerma dominated nation. This emphasis is important because the outgoing president, Issoufou, wants to be seen as more African than Hausa.
These two perspectives are germane to actuating the kind of Africa inclusiveness project Professor Dikwa seems to acknowledge as evasive in the quest for peace in the north – east, Borno; especially, where he comes from and where beyond the Boko Haram insurgency, he sees international conspiracy supported by those making money in Nigeria igniting, more, the fire burning in that space once noted to be the shining light of Borno – Kanem Kingdom, incorporating Chadic Arabs who seem to be migrating now to Niger Republic and controlling almost 60% of industrial activities there.
Professor Dikwa, on Channels Tv, relates what is happening to that region to what he noticed, had been happening in Congo Democratic Republic as mineral resource hungry investors deploy all arsenals to keep exploiting the DR Congo.
Uranium is undoubtedly spotted to be available in the north – east of Nigeria and as a weapon of both peace and war, NATO and WARSAW elements must go for the scramble like the scramble of mineral resources among them that had kept Congo Democratic greatly unstable.
Niger Republic is bordered by seven countries and if you extend Sudan, Tuareg and Janjaweed interests, it equates to having 10 bordering distinct interests like Congo Democratic Republic. Pockets of war mongers exist in all those bordering countries – Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali.
The relative calm experienced there has to do with Areva presence, the only French company mining the uranium for now and the French army that controls the French speaking countries’ borders including the pact France has with the countries occupying the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and even Israel. Except Israel, about 350 million Arabs are involved and they do seem agreeable only to the extent that a given economic interest unites them all – the peace of Mediterranean Sea. Same concerted efforts that make so seemingly unfriendly states cooperate must be explored for Lake Chad Basin.
Now extrapolate it to how the peace of Lake Chad must drive Nigeria’s mind so as to obliterate insurgency in the region Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic share together before the explosion of uranium exploration takes over. For sure, like crude oil, uranium must be exploited by agreement or war.
Uranium is going to make life more miserable than Professor Dikwa thinks of now with just Boko Haram insurgency. Beyond USA drone station in Niger Republic, companies like Chinese SinoU, Korea’s EPC, Japan’s OURD and Spain’s Enusa are racing to have more of the uranium fields to exploit and in all, poverty abound in Niger Republic as well as the littering of over 200,000 litres of radioactive waste eating deep into the health of their inhabitants in Arlit alone as reported by “nuclear-risks.org”. In all, Africans are the suffering humans like it is in Borno.
More of the Nigerien Hausas, Fulanis, Chadic Arabs and even the Zarmas would find their ways to Nigeria if a clear policy of how best to tie everyone’s interest to the survival of Lake Chad is not quickly embarked upon.
Remember that Professor Zulum, the governor of Borno State, out of frustration, was asking the military to take the combat to the insurgency in the Sambisa forest and Lake Chad areas. The military is yet to tell him why it is not possible for now. It is not far from understanding that over 90 Islands in that space have borders not clearly demarcated, and any attempt by Nigerian army to enter the radar detectable space – well viewed by the great powers scrambling for the soul of part of a space they have mapped out as Evil Axis. And as stated by Harari (2017,17)… as knowledge became the most important economic resource, the profitability of war declined and wars became increasingly restricted to those parts of the world – such as the Middle East and central Africa – where the economies are still old – fashioned, material – based. With over 100 universities in Nigeria, how can knowledge economics be missing for a better Nigeria nay Africa? African Union (AU) must wake up to that reality. Luckily the current Chief of Staff, Prof. Gambari knows all these having served as former UN Deputy Secretary.
So like Professor Dikwa worries, the time for a great roundtable to discuss the future of Lake Chad beyond the scramble it is suffering beckons. And by February 2021 when a coalition of other ethnic groups combine to deny Bazoum power in Niger Republic, the whole region should expect more of Janjaweed operations, remember Sudan. Time to act is now and France must collaborate with AU and lead in the roundtable as it did in Mali and the Mediterranean Region.
Ariole is a Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Lagos