There are growing concerns that the insurgency in the Northeast is being prolonged by massive external funding from fundamentalist groups and foreign nations, forcing former president, Olusegun Obasanjo to add his voice to these concerns, saying foreign funding for Boko Haram has risen to 50%.
Speaking at the President Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC on “Managing Nigeria’s Diversity Amidst Rising Ethno-religious Tensions,” OBJ in a video of the event, revealed that foreign funding for Boko Haram had reached 50% compared to 10-15% as at 2011. He said when he first inquired from intermediaries about Boko Haram’s external support; he was informed that it was just about 10-15% as much of their funding was local then.
However, upon recent inquiry, the former president said he was told external support for Boko Haram is now 50%. “Let me say this, the issue of Boko Haram is an internally generated issue. When I went to Maiduguri, I asked how much was Boko Haram externalized and the man, who was talking to me, the middle man between me and Boko Haram leadership, who were out of the country, said may be 10 to 15% and I said how do you know.
“He said he knew the leaders; they are not men of any means and that they are bringing in some new weapons and that somebody must be paying for those weapons; either Nigerians, who have the resources, or some external resources. Now if that is the case, we are in danger.”
Obasanjo’s assertion came as top military sources expressed concerns that the war against insurgency is prolonged by foreign funding and interference. Intelligence sources also confirmed to Huhuonline.com that the possession of sophisticated weapons like drones for logistics and medical supplies showed signs of funding by foreign interests. “We have seen these types of automatic weapons when they are dislodged or killed. These are not ordinary weapons; they are sophisticated machine guns and rifles and sometimes they have tanks that are not our tanks. We have seen weapons with numbers that show that they were not just sourced through the black market but directly supplied by known arms manufacturers from particular countries,” a military source said.
The source stated that investigations had shown some foreign-based NGOs were being used to supply fuel, food and medication to insurgents under the guise of humanitarian aid. “Physical and documentary evidence that indicate foreign funding for these people (insurgents) are everywhere and those who should know are aware of it. Are you not aware of the ties between ISIS, ISWAP and Boko Haram? Do you not know that ISIS is funded by some nations and that is the same with this insurgency war? How do you even buy a single bullet as a non-state actor without significant funding?” the source asked.
The anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has also raised the alarm that some NGOs operating in the North-east were keeping over 50 bank accounts and warned banks to desist from such practice or face the wrath of the law.
“Now look at this scenario. Go to Maiduguri. Foreign Non-governmental Organisations have booked all the hotels there but here is the most interesting part. They paid to stay in hotels in Maiduguri for 10-15 years. “How do you explain that? So, they and their backers are working to ensure that the war never ends,” the source added.
A Boko Haram fighter recently killed in Gubio by troops of the Nigerian Army was reportedly carrying an identification card of a France-based NGO, Première Urgence Internationale. He was identified as a pharmacist working with the French NGO but allegedly had direct dealings with Boko Haram.
Foreign interest in oil deposits around Lake Chad is also believed to be fueling the insurgency. Another security source confided to Huhuonline.com that some countries were scheming for the oil and funding the insurgency as a way of mounting pressure on Nigeria in order to secure a stake.
A military source who spoke against the backdrop of the recent announcement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it just discovered oil in the Northeast said: “If Nigeria starts her own exploration, it would be against French interest. The topography of the area where you have the crude oil deposits is tilted towards Nigerian side and when Nigeria starts exploration, they will lose out.”
However, in a bid to boost the morale of troops on the frontlines, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered service chiefs to take urgent steps to settle the outstanding entitlements of soldiers fighting the insurgents as well as the welfare packages for their dependents.
Also, a group, National Democratic Front (NDF), has criticized the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, over his claim that 847 soldiers were killed by insurgents in the last six years.
NDF faulted Ndume of insensitivity to the plight of families who lost soldiers in the war. It also accused him of having links with the insurgents by the way he has spoken.
In a statement by its Secretary General, Dr. Bolaji Abdulkadir, the NDF reckoned it was time to address Ndume’s alleged inglorious role in the Boko Haram conundrum. It said: “The National Democratic Front is constrained in light of the shameful and dishonorable statement credited to Senator Ali Ndume, the senator representing Borno South Senatorial District of Borno State, wherein he mischievously stated that over 847 soldiers had been killed by Boko Haram and buried in Borno cemetery.
“The statement credited to Senator Ali Ndume is not only mischievous. The National Democratic Front views his utterances as insensitive and an affront to the sensibilities of those whose families and relatives have been affected in one way or the other by the Boko Haram crisis.”