By Seun Adeuyi
A South African military contracting company, Conella Services Ltd., contracted by former President Goodluck Jonathan administration to fight alongside the Nigerian Military against the Boko Haram insurgency in 2014, on Monday blamed a combination of “money and politics” for its exit from Nigeria, stressing that the Jonathan government defaulted in the payment schedule agreed upon in the contract agreement.
A director of Conella Services, whose identity was concealed for security reasons, said on Arise TV’s Morning Show, that the outfit degraded Boko Haram and liberated many communities within one month of its operation within the three years contract.
The group, contracted by the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), explained that “Politics, unfortunately, overcame military operations and like any good soldier will tell you, that that’s where normally military operations will suffer: when military operations become subject to politics. I believe that was what happened in the end.
“It had nothing to do with the quality of the men or the collaboration. Politics, unfortunately, at that time was what stopped the operation, politics and money.”
While explaining that the contract was not terminated over non-performance but non-payment, he noted that the Jonathan administration, which hired the group, also terminated the contract and not Buhari.
According to him, part of its strategy was to merge with the best in the Nigerian Armed Forces in order to achieve maximum results.
The Director explained that the key to counter-insurgency operations was intelligence gathering, which he said President Muhammadu Buhari alluded to at a recent meeting with state governors.
His words, “We were contacted by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Dasuki, while in office, and I hasten to add that it was that administration that also terminated the contract. It was not the current administration. By the time the current administration took power, we were long gone, unfortunately. And the main reason for that termination was non-payment.
“We had milestones written into the contract for payments. Those milestones were unfortunately not met by the Nigerian government, perhaps priorities changed, perhaps with a view to the election around the corner. People thought differently about where to spend their money. We can only speculate about that; but that was the reason there was non-payment.”
However, he noted that the company didn’t default on the terms of the contract, saying: “It was not non-performance by our side or any other reasons, as a matter of fact, we achieved almost the impossible within a month of operations.
“For the first time in three years, two major cities that were in the hands of Boko Haram were back in the hands of the security forces.
“And also right at the end at the tail end of our contract, the Sambisa forest was being assaulted by our unit. We were not going to fight this battle by ourselves. We were going to merge with the best that Nigeria had.”
He said the Nigerian Military gave the group its best young men, adding “We merged with those and experienced leadership presented by ourselves and you had muscle and power and aggression and fantastic fighting ability brought to the party by the Nigerian men.”