To further foster a whole of society approach and build resilience of children and their environment to the practices of terrorist and violent extremism groups, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) hosted a one-day Bi-annual STRIVE Juvenile National Project Steering Committee Meeting in Abuja on 12th May, 2022.
Objectives of the meeting were to present the STRIVE Juvenile project second national work plan and seek feedback from relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as to provide an overview on the project progress from inception to date.
In his remarks, the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser, Rear Admiral YEM Musa (rtd), represented by the Staff Officer 1 in the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) Unit, ONSA, Mr. Dennis Ozioko noted that Nigeria, over the past decade, has been in the frontline in the fight against terrorism and also that the country has witnessed some of the cruellest forms of child recruitment by terrorist groups, with thousands of children abducted, starved, killed in fights, enslaved, even used as suicide bombers by Boko Haram and its splinter faction.
He added that the country had a firm stance on counter terrorism, so her strategy has evolved to increasingly focus on addressing root causes and preventing violent extremism from the ground up, through whole of government and whole of society approaches. “This has been the priority of the Policy Framework on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism ( PCVE),” the Coordinator said.
Rear Admiral Musa (rtd) expressed the delight of the Nigerian Government to partner with the European Union (EU) and UNODC in the implementation of the STRIVE Juvenile project. The project according to him, allows an opportunity to make ending child recruitment and exploitation a priority in the context of the Nigerian PCVE approach.
“This is necessary and urgent. We are especially supportive of the initiatives that allow us to garner a better understanding of the trajectories of children when they join and also when they leave the groups; of the initiatives that support the different stakeholders in promoting coordinated approaches and of the activities that aim to raise awareness around the dangers and consequences of child recruitment” he stressed.
He urged participants to come up with robust decisions that would further aid the country’s preparedness to Preventing and responding to the menace of violence against children by terrorist and violent extremist groups at all levels of government, particularly at the state and the local government levels.
Also in his remarks, the European Union (EU) Country Representative, Mr. Jerome Riviere who lauded the partnership of his Organisation and the Office of the National Security Adviser, called for prioritisation of STRIVE Juvenile at the International and national committee levels.
Aligning with the earlier speakers, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Country Representative, Mr. Oliver Stolpe attributed the success story of the STRIVE Juvenile Project in Nigeria so far to the strong commitment of the Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser.
STRIVE Juvenile is a new, three year project funded by the European Union that foresees activities at the global level and in three partner countries: Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria. It aims to prevent and counter violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality, national and international law.
Highlight of the meeting was the validation of the Second National Workplan for the STRIVE Juvenile Project in Nigeria.
Some of the representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser.