The Nigerian Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on Tuesday 13 February 2018, presented the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism to members of the public. The public presentation which took place in Abuja was attended by top government officials including the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Minister of Information and Culture.
On 24 August 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Presidential Directive to the Policy Framework and National Action for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism which was then launched on the 28 November, 2017.
Speaking at the public presentation, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lia Mohhammed emphasized Government’s commitment to work closely with all the core constituencies, as defined in the Policy Framework. He added that Ministry of Information and Culture was committed to develop narratives and communication strategies that will completely dismantle and neutralize Boko Haram ideology and messages.
The Minister disclosed that at least 30,000 hostages kidnapped by the Boko Haram extremist group, including women and Children, have been rescued by the military. He added that, more than 100 Chibok girls have so far been rescued. He also restated government’s commitment to the safe return of the remaining Chibok girls, who will be rehabilitated and reunited with their families and communities.
The minister further averred that “part of its soft approach in tackling security challenges, our administration is engaging in dialogue with different key stakeholders in order to find possible and lasting solutions to the issue of herder-farmer conflicts, which is one of the security challenges we face today”.
While stressing the critical role of the media in the fight against violent extremism, he applauded the Nigerian Media for the role they have played, and continue to play, in the fight against the extremists group, and urged them to sustain this momentum.
In his key note address, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Mohammed Babagana Monguno (Retired) said government would continue to take steps that would strengthen the Law Enforcement and Security Agencies in Nigeria to deal with the threats to national security.
He stated that Government would not work in isolation, adding that “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”.
The National Security Adviser informed that in line with President Buhari’s focus on transparency, accountability and the rule of law, Nigeria decided to build a Policy framework that will ensure institutionalization and mainstreaming of preventing and countering violent extremism across Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government. He disclosed that Nigeria was one of the few countries in the world that have developed the Policy Framework.
“In developing the Policy Framework, Government did not work in isolation. With a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSA Office and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, key stakeholders through a National Working Group were engaged. The National Working Group consisted of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Civil Society Organisations, Media, Labour, Students and the academic community”. The NSA stated.
Speaking earlier at the event, the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre (CCTC) Commodore YEM Musa noted that the Policy Framework, had gone through series of consultations. He added that the National Working Group which include Government MDAs, Faith Based Organizations, Community Based Organizations, women and youth contributed in shaping the ideas of the plans. “Through the policy formulation process, we learnt from each other and sharpened our understanding of the root causes of violent extremism as it applies to Nigeria. We reviewed research materials and ensured that the policy is evidence –based”, CCTC added.
The Policy Framework which will be implemented over the next three years, through the combined efforts of Governments and the Civil Society in a complementary Whole-of-Society approach, rests on four major objectives which are; Strengthening Institutions and Coordination in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism; Strengthening the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights; Engaging Communities and Building Resilience; and Integrating Strategic Communication in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Programme.