PARIS: Chad’s President Idriss Deby has accused Nigeria of downplaying the threat from Boko Haram and failing to cooperate with the regional coalition battling the jihadists, saying there had been zero contact between their armies.
“The whole world is asking why the Nigerian army, which is a big army… is not in a position to stand up to untrained kids armed with Kalashnikovs,” Deby told French magazine Le Point, in an interview published this week.
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have joined forces since January to battle Boko Haram, whose insurgency has claimed more than 13,000 lives in northern Nigeria since 2009.
But Deby said he was baffled by the Nigerian government’s lack of cooperation with the offensive.
“Two months after the start of this war, we have not had any direct contact with the Nigerian army units on the ground,” he told the French weekly.
“We would have hoped to have at least one Nigerian unit with us.
It was even a direct request to the Nigerian government, but for reasons that escape us, up to now we have been unable to work together.”
Not wishing to be seen as foreign occupiers, Chadian troops have had to abandon towns they have taken from Boko Haram forces, letting the jihadists return.
“The Chadian army is fighting alone in its part of the Nigerian interior and that is a problem. We have had to retake certain towns twice,” Deby told Le Point.
“We are forced to abandon them and Boko Haram returns, and we have to go back.
That has a human and material cost.”