AN ANALYSIS OF VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA.
Violent Extremism can be described as the whole activities and beliefs of individuals and groups who employ violence and terror related acts to achieve political, religious, social, cultural and economic aims, Countering Violence Extremism (CVE) on the other hand, is a new paradigm in Peace and Conflict Studies which refers to the proactive actions and measures put in place to combat and neutralize the efforts of violent extremist groups in the society (Kerry, 2016). It is a body of initiatives intended to put an end to the process of radicalizing, recruiting and mobilizing people (especially youths) for violence and terror related acts. Basically, it is a counter methodology to empower communities and build their resilience towards extremism (Moon, 2015).
In many countries of the world where the scourge of violent extremism has eaten deep, achieving sustainable peace and development has become elusive. For example, in Nigeria, since 2009, the North-eastern region of the country has been ravaged by the menace of Boko Haram, Shiite Sect and various Islamic fundamentalist groups, the Southern region is also not immune to the terror of Niger Delta militants, Odua People Congress (OPC), and has resulted to the loss of many lives and properties.
On May 29, 2015, during his inaugural speech, as President Muhammadu Buhari stated: “It will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely, Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment, especially among young people. The most immediate is Boko Haram insurgency”.
In order to address the Boko Haram insurgency, the President ordered that the Nigerian Military Central Command be relocated to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, to deepen the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group which had killed thousands and rendered thousands homeless in Nigeria’s northeast. Thus the adoption of the conventional or militaristic approach to ensure national security. Nonetheless, since the Buhari led administration gained ascendancy, the Nigerian military has rescued thousands of civilian hostages and hundreds of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered to the Nigerian military. Actually, winning the war against Boko Haram is just the beginning of what crucially needs to be implemented.
With the decline of the Cold war era, many individuals increasingly feel insecure as a result of worries on how to survive and sustain the basic things of life, how to become gainfully employed, residing in a safe neighborhood, not becoming a victim of violence as a result of gender, religion or ethnicity. In this regard, security is individualistic and is concerned with the protection of lives, containment of diseases, job creation, gender equity and ethno-religious tolerance amongst the citizenry (UNDP Report, 2004).
As Robert McNamara posits: “In a modernizing society, security means development, security is not military force though it may involve it, security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it, security is not military hardware though it may include it. Security is development and without development, there can be no security” (Ukase, 2013). For any government to effectively contain violent extremism and attain sustainable development, the destructive factors of illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and inequality must all be eradicated at least to the barest minimum.
To achieve national security in this present age, Nigeria must invest its resources in education, research and development, science and technology, as these are germane to a highly vibrant and industrialized economy. In light of this, the notion of national security must hinge on the fact that the indigenous economic infrastructure serve as the base for technological advancement of not only the military but also other areas of national development such as agriculture and socio-economic empowerment. When this concept of security is effectively implemented, it will just be a matter of time before Nigeria joins the league of developed nations in the international system.
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Ban Ki Moon (2015); “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism”; The United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.
John Kerry (2016); “Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism”. Department of State and USAID.
United Nations Development Report (UNDP), 2004.
Ukase, P. I (2013), “Humanities, National Security Discourse and Sustainable Development in Nigeria”. Nigerian Defence Academy, Journal of Defence Studies, Vol. 18.