FG developing strategies to completely dismantle Boko Haram ideology, says Lai Mohammed

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The Federal Government says it is developing narratives and communication strategies to completely dismantle and neutralise the Boko Haram violent ideology and messages.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the public presentation of the “Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.’’
The minister said that although the terrorists had been defeated and now on the run, the challenge of countering their violent ideology remained.
“We are committed to developing narratives and communication strategies that will completely dismantle and neutralise the Boko Haram ideology and messages.
“Thanks to the leadership and political will demonstrated by President Muhammadu Buhari, which has served as a morale booster for our gallant men and women in uniform, Boko Haram has been decimated and put on the run by our gallant military.
“The record of success is there for all to see: At least 30,000 hostages kidnapped by Boko Haram extremist group, including women and Children, have been rescued by the military.
“More than 100 Chibok girls have so far been rescued.
“The government is committed to the safe return of the remaining Chibok girls, while rehabilitating and reuniting them with their families and communities.
“Sambisa Forest has become too hot for Boko Haram and they are now escaping to neighbouring communities.
“Boko Haram is no longer able to carry out organised attacks. They hold no territory and their flag, which they were flying in Bama and other territories they used to occupy, has become a shroud.
“But the challenge is for us to develop the strategies to counter the dangerous ideologies and messages being peddled by the extremists,” Mohammed said.
He also said that government was not unmindful of structural conditions that made the environment conducive to the growth of violent extremism.
He said the conditions included unemployment, poverty, lack of education, corruption, and other social-economic factors but that through various policies and programmes, government was addressing them on daily basis.
The minister listed some of the programmes introduced by government to address them as the Anchor Borrowers programme, Home Grown School feeding Programme and the N-Power programme.
All these, according to him, are to help build community resilience against the violent extremist group.
Mohammed also said that as part of soft approach in tackling security challenges, the federal government was engaging in dialogue with different key stakeholders.
He said that the engagement was to find “possible and lasting solutions to the issue of herder-farmer conflicts, which is one of the security challenges we face today.’’
He, therefore, appealed to the media not to relent in the critical they play in the fight against violent extremism.
“It is on this basis that I applaud the critical role which the Nigerian Media have played, and continue to play, in the fight against extremist groups in our country.
“In spite of intimidation and attacks on some media outfits by Boko Haram, the Nigerian media stood firm and are still standing by the Nigerian people.
“I encourage the media to sustain this momentum and to deny extremist groups the oxygen of publicity which they badly crave, until we collectively dismantle Boko Haram extremist ideologies through constructive alternative narratives.
“I also encourage you to engage in a responsible use of the social media so that it doesn’t become a platform for spreading fear, hatred and violence, which are capable of tearing apart any society,’’ the minister said.
He said concerted efforts were needed in building resilience against violent extremism, including efforts of women and girls, families, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations, media and social media influencers.
According to him, political leaders, private sector, community leaders, artists and social mobilisers also have roles to play in that regard.
Also, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), at the event, said that steps are being taken to strengthen law enforcement agencies to deal with threats to national security.
He revealed that research was being conducted, while communities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders were being engaged in an effort to build a peaceful and secure nation.
According to him, across the Lake Chad, we are also working with our neighbours to address common challenges.
“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.
“Growing up in Nigeria, we knew only the harmony that existed between the different tribes and religions,’’ he said
The NSA, however, observed that “climate change, ethno-religious conflicts, herder/farmer conflicts and bad politics combine to present imminent security challenge for all Nigerians.’’
Monguno said that in developing the policy framework, government did not work in isolation.
“Starting with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between my Office and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, we engaged key stakeholders through a National Working Group.’’
He said the framework and national action plan was focusing on four major objectives.
The NSA listed them as “Strengthening institutions and coordination in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and strengthening the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights.’’
Others, he said are “​Engaging Communities and Building Resilience and Integrating Strategic Communication in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Programme.’’
According to him, this policy is for all Nigerians.
“We ensured it is rendered in a simple and accessible manner to guide government personnel, NGOs and indeed all Nigerians in developing community based initiatives.
“The objective is to cascade down to families and communities to build resilience, prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism,’’ he said.
Monguno said that in implementing the policy framework over the next three years, the nation would be guided by core national values as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

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