by Segun Odeleye
The federal government of Nigeria is showing that it subscribes to the theory that military might alone will not effectively tackle the scourge of Boko Haram.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, has thus launched what he labelled a “soft approach to countering terrorism” that will utilise existing structures within and outside the government.
Dasuki revealed that the anti-terrorism initiative by his office will include implementation of an economic turnaround policy at the end of the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. The channels for implementing this turnaround will be through families, communities, civil society groups and faith-based organisations and it would be aimed towards building resilience to violent extremism.
He disclosed that a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme will be developed, which will be “both vertical, involving the three tiers of government (federal, state and local), and horizontal, involving civil society, academics, traditional, religious and community leaders. It consists of three streams with different layers of partners: ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the civil society.”
He said the principles of the new approach are that “terrorism is un-Islamic, counter-terrorism is not against Muslims, encouragement and empowerment of Muslims to speak out against terror, ensuring that Muslim-Christian relations is used to stop terrorists’ desperate goal to ignite a religious war and that counter-terrorism is apolitical as the government will build inter-party collaboration for counter-terrorism operations.”
According to the NSA, “based on our understanding of the economic root causes of terrorism and global best practices in addressing them, we are working with the governors of the six north eastern states to design an economic revitalisation programme targeted toward the states most impacted by terrorism. Working with various stakeholders, we are currently designing a regional economic revitalisation plan. In December 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan tasked leaders of the North-East region and the NSA to develop a joint regional redevelopment plan which will serve as the foundation for a federal-state partnership to revitalise the region’s economy.”
The NSA also said that “an inter-ministerial committee, consisting of the Ministries of Agriculture, Power, Finance, Works, Water Resources, Health, Education, Transport, Communication, Culture and Tourism, Industry-Trade and Investments, Solid Minerals Development, Science and Technology, Youth Development, as well as Lands and Housing, along with SMEDAN, the Budget Office, National Planning Commission, development partners and my office, is currently working with the region under the aegis of the Presidential Initiative for the North-East (PINE). I thank our development partners for their role in developing this initiative.
“There exists a window of opportunity because communities are already indicating preference for peace and stability, having realised the danger that violent extremism presents both socially, psychologically and economically. More communities are providing prompt and actionable intelligence to security forces that have led to the capture of violent extremists or weapons caches. We realise that every Nigerian has a role to play in countering violent extremism. The soft approach provides us with a frame-work that identifies the roles and responsibilities of every segment of our society: the governors, local council chairmen, national and state assembly members, political parties, trade unions, the private sector, traditional institutions, ministers and other government officials, academics, in fact, a ‘whole-of-society’ approach that involves everyone vertically and horizontally to confront violent extremism.”
Dasuki saluted the immense sacrifices that the military and law enforcement officers have made. “We must also remember the souls we have lost and those they left behind, whole communities that have been sacked and the increasing number of orphans and victims, a large number of whom are children. When we reflect this horrendous damage and feel the pain and loss, we should remember that the only thing left for us to do is to stand up against this violence.”