Blowback from Chad would damage the fight against Boko Haram for Nigeria

Déby saw himself as a soldier rather than a politician
A Chadian man leaving in France holds the national flag and a placard that reads, : the people of Chad has a say'” during a protest with their national flags in Paris, Sunday, April 25, 2021. Chadia

The rebels who assassinated Chadian President Idris Déby Itno are still fighting in the northern Kanem region, about 330 kilometers from Nigeria's border communities, more than a week after his death. Experts are worried that Chad's rising political instability would weaken the Sahel security apparatus, with Nigeria being one of the worst-affected countries. The Nigerian army, on the other hand, assures The Africa Report that it will 'fill the void' in the regional security equation left by Déby's death.

What effect would the death of the Chadian have in Niger State, where Boko Haram is waving a black flag and Nigerian security forces are stretched as never before?

“Under Déby’s leadership, the Chadian army was crucial to the fight against the Boko Haram factions,” says Nnamdi Obasi, Senior Adviser on Nigeria at the International Crisis Group, who adds that “Déby’s death is certainly a hard blow to the multinational efforts for both security and development cooperation in the Lake Chad region.”

Déby’s regional role

Déby was a warrior who had just secured a new mandate to prolong his 30-year reign before his death. He seized power in 1990 after rebelling against President Hissène Habré, and in 2005 re-engineered the constitution to allow him to remain in power indefinitely.

He was a cornerstone of the Sahel's security architecture, as well as the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sub-Saharan region. Although he was a formidable force outside of Chad, he was killed by an internal rebellion while leading his troops to battle the Front pour l'Alternance et la Concorde au Tchad (FACT) 300 kilometers north of the capital N'Djamena.

Déby's death was characterized as a "immense loss for Central Africa and our continent" by Cameroon's President Paul Biya, while Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari described the 68-year-old as "a friend of Nigeria who had enthusiastically lent his hand in our efforts to defeat the murderous Boko Haram terrorists."

Chad's President, Idriss Deby

Marshal Déby pushed Chadian troops to crush Boko Haram

Déby saw himself as a soldier rather than a politician, and in August 2020, he was given the honorary title of Field Marshal in recognition of his dedication to leading counter-offensives against "state enemies," such as the Boko Haram Jihadist party.

Déby was on all sides of the war against jihadist terrorism, according to Mbaindangroa Djekornondé Adelph, a political scientist and journalist based in Chad.