Demystifying Insurgency Supply Chains in Nigeria

Over the course of the last few months, I have been quite interested in the supply chain that embodies Nigeria. It is quite interesting that Nigeria is the largest and the most populous black country in the world as it is estimated that over 200 million people are currently living in it and according to the World Economic Forum’s statistics, Nigeria is on pace to surpass the United States in population and in the next eighty years, they are anticipating Nigeria’s population to be about 800 million.

Nigeria is a country that is unique in nature because of the potential it has and what it means to the continent of Africa. It is what I consider the centre of gravity for Africa as a whole because it has the most robust and buoyant economy. Some of it has to do with the population and some, the nature of the people over there. For years to come, Nigeria is going to be a powerful player in the African geo-political landscape.

I am conducting a research on the supply chain in Nigeria and I am quite interested in how insurgency as we call it right now, the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram, have been able to hold the country hostage in such a way and manner that the security agencies within the country cannot actually put their thumb on what is going on.

In my deep research and from the little I have done so far, I have reviewed certain things.

I know the Nigerian military or the security agencies have said that they’ve destroyed their supply chain but I’d like to shed some light on that.

The conventional knowledge of supply chain tells us that there are four elements of supply chain which includes: Integration, Operation, Purchasing and Distribution.

I understand that the Nigerian military has stressed that they’ve destroyed this supply chain but for them to do that, it means these four elements will cease to exist and I don’t think these four elements were touched at any point in time.  

One thing they must have done, however, is to disrupt their distribution network but they’ve not disrupted their purchasing power, their mode of operation or their integration.

I think they are alive and I would shed some light on it.

It is quite interesting that the Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen which constitute the internal insurgency within Nigeria have capitalised on certain networks within the country that most people don’t have a clue about.

Over the course of time, prior to Nigeria being Nigeria, there had been a lot of tribal wars internally and during these times there were a lot of heroes that were made.

This is because Nigerians were tribal before the country was carved out of it; so we have the Igbos, the Ijaws, the Itsekiris, the ibibios and then we have the Yorubas.

Even within the Yorubas, there are different ethnic groups. We then have the Middle Belt, and the North which is predominantly Hausa or Fulani. All these tribes had their own sense of governance, sense of security and sense of network.

Combine all these things together and you get a wide, robust and complex distribution network over the course of time. These things were never erased, actually, they are still active till now.

Now with civilisation, and the call for a new Nigeria, most people travelled on the new road networks but those predominantly old networks that served those tribes back in the days are still in existence.

As a result, it is possible for someone to be kidnapped in the South Eastern part of Nigeria and then few days later, find himself in the North Eastern part of Nigeria because those old road networks exist and are still being used today to move weapons, ammunitions, fuel and all other supplies that are needed to supply these insurgents in the North East.

When Nigeria was carved out, there were still tribes and tribes left.  The country was carved out in such a way that the same tribe can be found in two different countries simultaneously. Your brother can be living in one side of Nigeria and the other one probably in Chad or Niger.

This has cleared a lot of border crossing with no one challenging the in and out of citizens crossing one nation to the other and these are the things that have helped the movement of goods and services for insurgency.  

I know the Nigerian military has tried to alienate the supply chains but those road networks are so deep and there are people committed to the supply chain that it is going to take years and years of sensitising these communities for them to drop their support for the insurgencies.  

Boko Haram has taken up the airways, they are not recruiting using the old means. They are using technology; Twitter to recruit from the comfort of their rooms.

They’ve created channels on social media, so recruiting doesn’t have to be physical these days. It can be virtual and digital. Most of their integration is also done over social media so it will be quite ingenious for the Nigerian military to say that they’ve dismantled the Boko Haram insurgency social network.

Now, until Nigeria’s military finds a way to attack those social media networks, follow them and disintegrate this insurgency, then use those originally made road networks to monitor it, man it, interdict different logistics and different logistical trains that are passing through those networks it will be nearly impossible to defeat the efforts of insurgency and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

It is important we understand this because we hear in the news that all these things have been technically defeated.

It is quite impossible, if all these elements are still at play.