The military in both Cameroon and Chad are deploying forces across their borders with Nigeria in a unified effort to neutralize Boko Haram extremists. Boko Haram extremists also continue to refuse negotiations and threaten even more attacks in the near future.

This news comes after a recent meeting of Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, Cameroon’s Defence Minister, and Chadian Defence Minister Benaindo Tatola. According to comments made by Mr Ngo’o to the national press both the Cameroon and Chad governments have begun stationing troops on their borders with Nigeria. In a collected stance, Nigeria and its neighbours look to take the fight on Nigerian soil to neutralize the Boko Haram threat that looks to take on more nations in the region.

The decision to deploy more troops came on the 22nd May after Chad’s President Idriss Deby spoke personally with Cameroon’s Head of State, Paul Biya. Following the Anti-Terrorism summit in Paris earlier this year the unified action of Nigeria and its neighbours seems to be the first strong step in tackling the Islamic extremist threat in their part of the continent. This comes after promises at the summit were made to strengthen the exchange of important information between neighbouring countries to keep communication over enemy activity in the region frequent enough to inspire action.

With the Boko Haram threatening to advance out of their conflict-ridden stronghold in the Northern mountain regions of Nigeria, military assistance from neighbouring Chad and Cameroon now seem to be nothing short of a necessity.

Cameroon’s Far North Region Governor Fonka Awah has further reiterated the need for unity with its Nigerian neighbours despite their many past conflicts as the Boko Haram threat looks to widen its deadly cause: “Until now, [they] could not get involved in an issue happening in another country.”

Up until recently Nigerian officials have often criticised their neighbours for their lack of action and intent against fighting terror in recent years. However, as Mr Awah pointed out, the Boko Haram threat in Nigeria has been an internal problem for a long period of time.

So as troops around the country begin to multiply and strengthen, diplomatic efforts are underway with the Nigerian government. In stark contrast to the growing military presence on their borders, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has announced that he is to offer amnesty for members of the Boko Haram. The idea being to neutralize any conflict in the long-term, whilst attempting to cool events in the short-term and break up any immediate attacks or plans the Islamist group look to make.

There is a lot of debate however surrounding President Jonathan’s decision. Many government officials of Nigeria and neighbouring officials such as those in nervy Cameroon and Chad feel that despite the good and calm intentions of offers for amnesty, it is an ultimatum that could further fuel the hatred of their enemies.

For example the Bauchi State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged for President Jonathan to seriously reconsider his decision to offer amnesty, claiming that Boko Haram’s recent strikes, including the well-publicised kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, are not just fuelled by religious divides. Bauchi State’s chapter of CAN is an important arm of the Christian community in Nigeria placed in the highly dangerous North-Eastern region of the country and is closer than many of their other chapters to Boko Haram’s stronghold in the mountains near the Cameroon border.

In a recent blog post in their official website, CAN announced that if strong and positive action is not taken in the very near future, the government runs a severe risk of losing the co-operation of the Christian community in Nigeria. Their latest blog post back on the 7th May said that: “The Christian Association of Nigeria has issued a ‘Final Call’ to the Federal Government to neutralize the violence against Christians or risk losing the co-operation of the Christian community in its fight against Boko Haram”.

Two of CAN’s six zones, namely those in the North-East and North-West, both of whom have a combined thirteen states in their community have been in severe danger over the last few years. However despite the religious divide of the nation, it is reported that the recent string of attacks are more in defiance to the notion that Boko Haram remain unsettled with the country being run by a Southerner.

Whilst their remains a clear lack of agreement between the threatened Christian community in the country and the Federal Government, events can only further play into the hands of Boko Haram. The shake-up that is causing tension between President Jonathan and the Christian community will be just what the Islamic extremists are looking to achieve. Whilst President Jonathan continues to offer amnesty for extremists willing to turn themselves in and surrender, Boko Haram’s historic and persistent denial of any form of treaty with the government should be an indicator that their defiance shouldn’t really be questioned much longer. Whilst it has been noble to see the nation look to unite their people, as long as a religious divide as strong as this remains there simply cannot be an entirely peaceful diplomatic solution.

The situation that occurred throughout the nation of Mali last year has been a very strong beacon of hope that unity between neighbouring nations and a strong stance against acts of terror against innocent people can, and will be driven out. Now that Nigeria as a nation is receiving the backing of both the Cameroon and Chadian armed forces, despite their clear differences for many years this is an obvious symbol that, yet again, despite each nation looking for individual gain, terrorism on any level cannot be allowed to detract from the progress of anyone.

Whilst Nigeria and their neighbours remain united and vigilant against the rising (now international) threat from Boko Haram, efforts can be made to liberate the people of the North from the fear and tyranny that has been engulfing them for so long.


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