I wish to welcome you to this public presentation of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. It gives me great joy that you have all responded to our invitation to be part of this public presentation, which demonstrates the depth of your individual commitment to addressing the threat of violent extremism. Following the launch of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, I directed that the Policy Framework should be formally presented to the public, especially to members of the Civil Society Organizations, Media and our friends from the International Community who have also been part of the process leading to the development of Nigeria’s Policy Framework and National Action Plan.
2. Every generation since our founding as a nation have had to confront myriad of challenges. Amidst the disturbing threats of today we are tempted to forget that we have been a resilient people all along. The great peoples and cultures emerging in the years before Colonial Rule were faced with wars and internal strife, yet evolved into Kingdoms that excelled in art and commerce, confronting the menace of disease and trade wars. Our landscape always ensured the movement of goods and services, and long before amalgamation, we were melting into one another as different cultures, ordained to become a nation. Today, we are the most populous black nation on earth, our economy has expanded tremendously and all over the World, the resilience and entrepreneurial abilities of our people continue to sustain a belief that Nigeria will rise, that we will overcome.
3. Our great promise is not without enormous challenges, the threat from violent extremism which feeds on conducive conditions 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. Growing up in Nigeria, we knew only the harmony that existed between the different tribes and religions. Climate change, ethno-religious conflicts, herder-farmer conflicts and bad politics combine to present imminent security challenge for all Nigerians. We are taking steps to strengthen our Law Enforcement and Security Agencies in dealing with these threats to national security. Government will not work in isolation. We require research, community engagement, involvement of the Civil Society and all stakeholders to play key roles in building a peaceful and secure country. Across the Lake Chad, we are also working with our neighbors to address common challenges.
4. In 2015, following the transition, we reviewed Nigeria’s efforts in Countering Violent Extremism. The review informed the need for a complementary, Whole-of-Society Approach in dealing with terrorism. We also realized that in line with the President’s focus on transparency, accountability and the rule of law, we needed to build a Policy framework that will ensure institutionalization and mainstreaming of preventing and countering violent extremism across Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government. While we were taking these steps, the then United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, in December 2015 issued a call to member states to also develop National Action Plans to prevent violent extremism. Nigeria is one of few countries in the world that have developed the Policy Framework, which we showcased on the Sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly held in September 2017, in New York. I wish to state that Nigeria’s effort was overwhelmingly appreciated during the Global Solutions Exchange Side Event where several donors indicated their willingness to partner with Nigeria in implementing the National Action Plan.
5. In developing the Policy Framework, Government did not work in isolation. Starting with a Memorandum of Understanding between my Office and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, we engaged key stakeholders through a National Working Group. The National Working Group consisted of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Civil Society Organisations, Media, Labour, Students and the academic community. The Group held several technical meetings and also visited Belfast in Northern Ireland to exchange ideas and identify lessons Nigeria could learn from. We were also involved in a Technical Workshop organized by the Preventing Countering Violent Extremism National Action Plan Task Force at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy where 16 countries at different stages of developing their Policy Frameworks shared experiences, which facilitated international validation for our draft Policy Framework. Through wide consultation, we have thus developed a Policy Framework that is truly people-oriented and is tailored to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism while countering the dangerous ideology that fuel terrorism. Furthermore, I am pleased to convey that on 24th day of August, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR signed the Presidential Directive to the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. With this, we have provided a clear policy environment that linter-connects peace, security and development and will strengthen our efforts at mainstreaming peace building into development initiatives at the grassroots.
6. The Policy Framework and National Action Plan rests on four major objectives. These are:
a. Strengthening institutions and coordination in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism,
b. Strengthening the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights,
c. Engaging Communities and Building Resilience and
d. Integrating Strategic Communication in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Programme.
We have included a strategic implementation matrix to guide Government and Non Governmental actors in delivering the 3-Years National Action Plan set in the Policy Framework.
7. In order to achieve these objectives, I wish to highlight some of the immediate steps we are required to take going forward.
a. All Relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies are required to include in their annual budgets Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Tasks for implementation as identified in Part 3 of the National Action Plan
b. A National Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Steering Committee will be constituted to oversee implementation of the National Action Plan- the committee will include representation from Civil Society. Wide consultation is on going to ensure that competent Nigerians in and out of Government sit on the Committee.
c. The Strategic Communication Inter Agency Policy Committee (SC-IPC) will provide agency wide support and coordination of communication initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism.
d. The Policy Framework will be concluded to other levels of Government. In this regard, sensitization dialogue will be embark upon at the states to encourage development of PCVE Action Plans that are totally relevant. We encourage Civil Society with expertise in peace and conflict to partner State Governments in this regard.
8. In implementing this Policy Framework over the next 3 Years, Nigeria will be guided by our core national values as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These Seven values are Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social Justice, Religious tolerance, Self-reliance and Patriotism. We will also be guided by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013, the National Security Strategy 2014 and the National Counter Terrorism Strategy 2016. The Policy Framework also satisfies several United Nations Resolutions such No. 2178(2014), 2199(2015), 2250(2015) and 2349(2017) all of which are relevant to addressing the threat of terrorism.
9. We are working with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and relevant Government offices to support Ministries, Departments and Agencies in implementing the Presidential Directive by ensuring they are able to identify PCVE tasks annually, budget for such activities and implement appropriately. We look forward to also work with our development partners in this regard. The Office of the National Security Adviser through the Counter Terrorism Centre will continue to provide the required Strategic Coordination.
10. More importantly, 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. This is why Part 2 of the Policy Framework identifies our Core Constituencies, broad enough to guarantee that a whole-of-Society Approach is emplaced. We appreciate that Civil society is already involved in tackling the threats that we face, we now call on the Civil Society to redouble efforts and utilize this Policy Framework as a basis for engaging Governments at all levels in preventing and countering violent extremism.
11. I will conclude by extending our profound gratitude to the National Working Group, the donor community and my Staff at the Counter Terrorism Centre for an invaluable service. I wish to assure of the Federal Government’s commitment to the values of this Policy Framework and our unwavering resolve to see that the National Action Plan is implemented. I wish you fruitful deliberation later this afternoon.
Thank you and May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.