By Ibrahim Sha’aban
The Nigerian government, on Tuesday, restated its determination in dismantling the structural conditions that make violent extremism thrive in the country.
These structural conditions are mostly caused by unemployment, poverty, lack of education, corruption, and other social-economic factors, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said.
The minister stated this in Abuja at the public presentation of the ‘Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’, organised by the Counter Terrorism Centre under the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Mr Mohammed said his ministry is committed to developing narratives and communication strategies that will completely dismantle and neutralize Boko Haram ideology and messages.
“We did that when we launched the national sensitization campaign against insecurity in December 2015. I am sure many of you would have heard the slogan, ‘if you see something, say something’.
“As you are very much aware, extremist groups thrive on two major things: One is to get their ideologies and messages out to the public.
“This has been facilitated by the democratisation of the cyberspace, for the purpose of recruitment and radicalization. The second is publicity, which is the oxygen that they live on,” he said.
While applauding the critical role the media is playing the fight against terrorism, the Minister encouraged the media to sustain the momentum and deny extremist groups the oxygen of publicity which they badly crave.
In his keynote address, the National Security Adviser to the President, Babagana Monguno, said the increasing threat national security calls for a concerted effort at stemming the violent extremism feeding on conducive conditions which has in recent years changed the threat dynamics.
“Violent Extremists, riding on misconceptions of religion, prolonged unresolved conflicts, structural and governance challenges, perceptions of injustice, have committed untold abuses and violations of human rights and the rule of law.
“Boko Haram has conscripted young boys into their ranks, abducting school girls and killing everyone, irrespective of tribe or religion.
“Climate change, ethno-religious conflicts, herder-farmer conflicts and bad politics combine to present imminent security challenge for all Nigerians,” he lamented.
Commenting on the document, the NSA said the framework is people-oriented and tailored to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism while countering the dangerous ideology that fuel terrorism.
He added that at implementation level, the document would strengthen institutions and coordination in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in all its ramifications.
“Strengthen the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights, engage Communities and Building Resilience and Integrate Strategic Communication in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Programme.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, Y.E.M Musa expressed his appreciation over the leadership style exhibited by the National Security Adviser in the attainment of the said document.
According to him, with the policy document, “slowly but surely, we are building the foundation for an effective security architecture in Nigeria.”
He therefore called on the civil society and the media to take this policy to individuals, families, villages and communities.
“We expect that schools, businesses, unions, students, teachers, health practitioners, and more stakeholders will jointly initiate activities that support our objectives.
“In all that we do, we are committed to rebuilding communities and livelihoods, defeating violent extremism through education and the rule of law,” he said.