On 18 April 1983, in a well planned operation, Chadian troops invaded and seized 19 Islands in the Lake Chad axis in Borno State of Nigeria.
This deliberate territorial violation happened with the then younger Idriss Deby as the head of Chadian armed forces and Hissene Habre as President.
In reaction, Nigerian armed forces led by then GOC 3rd Division of Nigerian Army, Muhammadu Buhari countered the invading Chadian forces. Determined to make a bold statement to the Chadians and teach them a bitter lesson, General Buhari’s troops did not just flush out the invaders.
They crossed the border into Chadian territory and continued its pursuit. Orders from Nigeria’s President to halt his advance fell on deaf ears. Nigerian troops continued its advance until they were 50 kilometres from the N’Djamena, the Chadian Capital. Facing possible court marshal General Buhari stoped the advance and withdrew his forces.
Thus, while it was a humiliating defeat for Chad, it was was a sad experience and personal humiliation for Idriss Deby as head of Chadian armed forces. It was a dent on his career as a military commander. He never forgot that event. Eventually, he fought his way to become the President of Chad Republic, unseating Hissene Habre.
Consequently, when Boko Haram insurgency escalated in 2014 necessitating the formation of a Multinational force by Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger , President Idriss Deby of Chad played hide and seek game with Nigeria under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Chadian forces often fought independently and habitually whine about Nigerian Army being absent on war against Boko haram. He seemingly nursed a complex about Nigerian Army.
He obviously had not forgotten the humiliating way Nigeria army repelled the Chadian army under his command back in 1983. Eventually, when President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015, President Deby became completely non-committal, deliberately frustrating every attempt to make the multinational force work.
Meanwhile, Nigerian forces remained helpless about about terrorists that routinely cross border from Chadian territory to attack Nigerian communities and then ran back. Obviously, for President Deby, it was payback time for the man who once humiliated him and his soldiers.
Fortunately, something happened recently and the Boko haram terrorists attacked and killed Chadian soldiers. This sent a dangerous signal to President Idriss Deby and woke him up from from his pretentious slumber. Working with some Israeli mercenaries who had mapped the Lake Chad area, he simply gathered some of his elite soldiers and attacked the terrorists’ camps and bunkers where the terrorists usually run back to and hide as safe haven after attacking Nigeria soldiers.
Having decimated the terrorists and in the process putting a big question mark of the attacking efforts of Nigerian Army’s Operation Lafia Dole, which he indirectly frustrated, President Deby is prancing around sneeringly with braggadocious attitude to emotionally hurt the man who once humiliated him: General Muhammadu Buhari the Commander-in-Chief once feared Nigerian armed forces.
I hope this new-found sense of pride in him will make him not to relent but to make good his words to continue his offensive and if possible kill the loquacious and blood-thirsty Abubakar Shekau.
I also pray that this recent successes will not get to his head and drive him to attempt another invasion of Nigeria territory as it happened in 1983. Any such attempt will add another humiliation to his military career.