By Raphael Oni
The Federal Government of Nigeria has expressed shock over the sudden death of Chad’s Strong Man, His Excellency Idriss Deby Itno. This was contained in a press statement by the Nigerian government signed by His Excellency, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Nigeria made available to journalists in Abuja.
The statement reads in part; ” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria expresses shock and sadness on the passing away of His Excellency, the Marshall of Chad, Idriss Deby Itno, who died as a result of injuries suffered in frontline battle with rebels, earlier today (April 20, 2021).”
The Nigerian government expresses great concerns over evolving developments in Chad calling of the interim leadership of Chad and all stakeholders, at home and abroad, including the two armed groups still fighting must not allow the evolving developments in Chad to feed into more chaos with its attendant consequences.
Nigeria also calls for urgent consideration of dialogue among all the stakeholders, which Nigeria is willing to guide and mainstream, within the framework of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and ultimately, the African Union (AU). An early return to democratic governance in Chad should be the ultimate goal but the immediate objective is the stabilisation of Chad as well as the regions of ECCAS, ECOWAS and the Sahel.
The statement further confirms the influence and relevance of Idriss Deby Itno in his capacity to make Chad act as a buffer between North Africa, the Sahel, East and West Africa and, in particular, containing the negative extreme tendencies that are domiciled in these regions. In the Lake Chad region, the late President Itno and Chad remained the strongest allies of Nigeria in the Multinational Joint Taskforce, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and in the fight against Boko Haram and insurgency. The great leader of Chad will be missed and glowingly remembered for his efforts to stabilise our subregions and maintain the peace and their socio-economic development. His demise could lead to vacuums that could implode in these subregions, hence the need to appeal to all stakeholders in Chad to embrace dialogue to resolve their differences in the interest of peace and the sustainable development of Chad.
The Late President Idriss Deby Itno’s 31 years ruling the country have been momentous. Since the independence of the country in August 1960, this represented the longest administration which also stabilised Chad from 2008 until his demise. Apart from gradually turning Chad into a modern State during his life time, President Itno uplifted Chad’s diplomacy within ECCAS and AU. Chad’s military capability has been rated as the best modern army in the region which successfully contained terrorism in the Sahel and armed groups against Chad for over three decades. His death today marks a tragic end to brilliant military and political careers of service to his country.
President Idris Deby Itno demonstrated leadership and died in the defence of his country. The Nigeria government says this illustrious son of Chad and Africa will be dearly missed. May he rest in peace and may the Almighty comfort his family and the people of Chad.