Visit of the Executive Secretary, Head of Mission of MNJTF to Sector 4
N’Djamena, 2 September 2019 From 26 - 28 August 2019, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Head of Mission of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, conducted a field visit to Sector 4 (Diffa, Niger). The MNJTF comprises troops from Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Benin, engaged in the fight against Boko Haram. Ambassador Mamman Nuhu led a delegation including the Force Commander of MNJTF, the Representative of the African Union Commission (AUC) for Chad and his close collaborators. They met with the main administrative and military officials of this region; south-east of Niger, before carrying out a field visit for the inauguration of a health care centre, built by the AU, in the village of Nouri (Chetimari Council).
This visit, the first of its kind since taking office was intended, on the one hand, to support the efforts of the troops engaged in the fight against Boko Haram and, on the other hand, to better understand the causes of the security, humanitarian, economic and development crisis affecting the Diffa Region in particular and the Lake Chad Basin in general. Incidentally, it was also an opportunity to see the challenges first hand, listen carefully and further explain the challenges and the spirit and letter of the Regional Stabilisation Strategy for the Recovery and Resilience of the Areas of the Lake Chad Basin affected by the Boko Haram crisis, adopted by member states and endorsed by the AUC and the United Nations organizations.
“It was extremely important for my delegation and I to come to Diffa to meet and listen to local authorities and communities. With the obvious aim of directly assessing the work carried out by the MNJTF in Sector 4 but also to better identify the needs, current practices and obstacles currently facing the Diffa Region with regard to the fight against Boko Haram on the one hand and the implementation of sustainable solutions to this crisis for the short, medium and long term. Moreover, this visit allowed me to fine-tune my understanding of the issues and especially the difficulties that directly affect people’s lives, unlike the best reports I have been reading”, summed up the NUHU Ambassador.
Welcomed with great fanfare at the Diffa airport by the Governor of the Region, the Commander of Sector 4 of the MNJTF, the Commander of Defence Zone No.5 and officials of the region’s defence and security forces, the ES/HoM and his delegation immediately went to the Governor’s Office where they were presented with an overview of the security situation in the area. This situation has caused a deep economic crisis with disastrous humanitarian repercussions. As a result, more than one in three people in this once stable and dynamic region is now a forced displaced person.
The newly appointed Governor of the Region, Mr. Issa Lamine, expressed his great honour at the visit of the Executive Secretary of LCBC, the first of its kind since the establishment of LCBC. He also highlighted the efforts and commitment of the MNJTF to improve the security and living conditions of his citizens. He said that the kidnapping attempts with ransom demands, food looting and cattle thefts that this outlaw gang is now carrying out are all clear signs of a desperate organization that is now unable to carry out large-scale and shattered attacks to strike public opinion. The Governor also raised the issues of endemic poverty, inequality, exclusion, limited access to basic services such as health, education, water and energy, high youth unemployment, governance and public service deficits, as the main problems making young people in the region to join Boko Haram. He added that today “many of them are disillusioned and have turned their backs on this one-time adventure”, before concluding: “Administrative and customary authorities, defence and security forces, communities, everyone must play their part to put an end once and for all to this terrorist group. For, however strong and valiant our troops may be, they cannot be everywhere at once, behind every man or woman. They therefore need the populations to inform them and provide them with intelligence information about each suspicious movement. Otherwise, all the acts committed by these enemies suggest that they are at bay and that the victory of the forces of good against this horde of criminals is within reach”.
In response, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu reiterated the support of LCBC and its member states “to the communities bordering the Lake Chad Basin in general and Diffa in particular, in mobilizing the necessary resources and investments to support efforts and initiatives to stabilize the situation and improve the living conditions of the populations”. He acknowledged that the sustainable recovery of the area requires the construction or reconstruction of schools and health facilities, the rehabilitation of essential infrastructure, particularly in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and water supply, on which the population depends mainly. As advocated by the Regional Stabilization Strategy, in order to achieve lasting peace, it is essential to address the root causes of this crisis. This would not only occupy and give better opportunities to youth and all marginalized groups, but also cut the ground under the feet of all extremists and radicals of all kinds with comprehensive interventions for the benefit of all members of society.
He reaffirmed that LCBC and its partners, through the implementation of the Regional Stabilization Strategy, are working on local, national and transnational initiatives to contribute to poverty reduction, capacity development, effective governance, natural resource management, early recovery, disaster risk reduction, social cohesion, peacebuilding and resilience.
Another priority is the regeneration of Lake Chad, he continued. Because, the lake and its wetlands have lost 90% of their water due to unsustainable water resource management and climate change. “This issue of the revitalization of Lake Chad and its water resources is at the heart of the priorities of the Heads of State and Government of member states. They attach great importance to this issue.”, he stressed, pointing to the recommendations of the International Conference on Lake Chad, held in Abuja in February 2018. At the of which it was decided to set up a fund to safeguard Lake Chad and its resources.
All these issues are closely linked, he continued. It is therefore important to consider them as a whole. For the solution to the complex multidimensional crises facing Lake Chad lies in a global regional approach. It must therefore be addressed through targeted and coordinated action to strengthen stability, increase government presence, encourage development, increase resilience and reduce poverty. Thus, the importance of the Regional Stabilization Strategy. It is a global approach, based on competencies and a shared willingness to cooperate among States united by a common destiny, which sets out in advance the path to be followed, highlighting the goals to be achieved, the frameworks and means of action for achieving the objectives at the local, national, regional and international levels, in the short, medium and long term...
“I have learned a lot. And what I have seen with my own eyes comforts me in my analysis that our people, who are mostly farmers, fishermen, herders, craftsmen or a little bit of everything at a time, need more help to rebuild their livelihoods than to give them food”, he stressed.
The Executive Secretary also used his stay to inaugurate the health care centre in the village of Nouri, in the Council of Chetimari. Built by the AU as part of quick-impact projects to support the stabilization of the Lake Chad Basin, this infrastructure aims in particular to help alleviate the plight of this population while improving the image of the Multinational Joint Task Force among the latter.
As before in Cameroon, the Executive Secretary, Head of Mission MNJTF took the opportunity to award testimonies of satisfaction to both civilian and military officials for their commitment and dedication to the stabilization and development of the Lake Chad Basin region. Thus, in turn, the Governor of the Region, the Commander of Sector 4 of the MNJTF, the Zone Commander of the Diffa Region, the Deputy Force Commander of the MNJTF were distinguished.