Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria: The way forward #NotAnotherNigerian
Insurgency has been seen as of the greatest threat to global peace and security in the 21st century. Before now, insurgency was limited to a few isolated places as Middle East, Northern Ireland, Northern Spain, but it in recent times it has degenerated into a global security problem. In Nigeria insurgency have been in existence since her independence in 1960, for examples the civil war (1967–1970), the militias such as the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC), the movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and the recently the Boko Haram. The Boko haram has been operating in the Northern Nigeria since the early 2000, whose brutal activities have unleashed terrible humanitarian crises in North East Nigeria. The continued increase in the brutal activities of Boko haram sect in North East Nigeria since 2009 has resulted in a major humanitarian consequence in the North East region.
The increasing activities of the Boko haram has brought about severe effect on the population especially on women and children, this is shown from the increased number of widows and orphans in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa state.
Over the past years, there has been increased on the understanding of how and why individuals engage in violent extremism and terrorism. This understanding has evolved and led to the formulation of tools to prevent these threats of violent extremism. A field of policy and practice called counter violent extremism (CVE) has emerged that focuses on countering the pull of terrorist recruitment and influence by building resilience among populations vulnerable to radicalization. In Nigeria, particular in northern eastern states that have experienced the activities of Boko haram for the past six years, there is therefore the need to adopt the full concept of countering violent extremism approach (CVE) for de-radicalization and countering the narratives of violent extremism. Hence, we recommend the counter violent extremism (CVE) practice approach as a major tool for countering the narrative of violent extremism in Nigeria and in particular the North Eastern Nigeria.
The way forward
Support a non-securitized space for civil society
Civil society has a role in the prevention of extremist violence independent of engagement with the security sector or other state actors. With the help of peacebuilding organizations, civil society can develop effective programs to increase community awareness of the dynamics of radicalization and teach the skills associated with building resilience and resistance to the drivers of violent extremism (USIP.ORG 2013)
Empower and equip women to participate
Women have been overlooked as a resource in CVE policy and planning but are poised to play significant and unique roles in their homes, schools, communities, and governments to help prevent violence and conflict. Indeed, some already do, although their participation is not recognized or documented as CVE per se. Peacebuilders, with their inclusive and gender-sensitive ethos, are well-positioned to help empower women in local communities engage safely and productively in preventing violence (USIP.ORG 2013)
Focus on building resilience
Peacebuilders can help equip civil society with the skills and knowledge needed to build resilience through trauma healing and transformation and peace and tolerance education. This level of engagement also partially addresses the measurement conundrum as it shifts focus to evaluating a positive gain (in skills, awareness, capacity, and social cohesion/ resilience) from measuring a negative (decrease in potential violent extremists) ((USIP.ORG 2013).
Help reform the security entities charged with CT/CVE
Peacebuilders can help lay the groundwork for effective police CVE work in fragile environments by working to reform and build the capacity of those security bodies charged with this mandate. Training programs that focus on enhancing the delivery of security services within the framework of democratic governance with full respect for human rights and the rule of law are a significant step toward building trust between civil society and the security sector.
Engagement and empowerment of communities
Engagement and empowerment of communities at the local level helps to address the underlying factors exploited by those who promote violent extremism and improves societal resilience against propaganda.