3 Criteria’s for Dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism
At home and in school, we are taught (in no specific order) how to speak in public (through preparation, confidence building, overcoming with shyness, avoid mumbling and speaking under our breaths); how to enunciate words; how to control emotions and express ourselves eloquently; when to speak and when to listen; the right forms of body language to express attentiveness and how to maintain contact; how to address and understand different audiences; and so on. All the lessons have amounted to mechanisms for good communication that will be the starting base for engaging in community dialogue.
Dialogue is not just about communicating per se. Dialogue is about building and mending relationship. However, to achieve this achieve this, one must engage with others; listen (to the concerns, needs and experiences of each other) and understand (be empathetic and open minded to different perspectives/worldviews). It is about sharing thoughts and ideas in a safe and nonjudgmental space. It is also about joint decision making and moving forward having tackled root causes of tension or conflict in a holistic manner.
The following are 3 criteria’s, I believe are essential for creating and facilitating effective dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism:
Representation requires mapping of key actors: including victims/persons of concern; the community (including civil society, faith and traditional based groups and structures); government (at the local government; state; and federal level); and the international community on the ground. It is important to consider the dynamics between this mix of actors, especially built up tension within and between communities and inter-agency rivalry and competition (on a bureaucratic level). Moreover, having visible representation of each group/set of actors is essential for balancing interests in the dialogue. It also adds legitimacy and trust in the dialogue process.
Establishing and maintaining regular and frequent forums for dialogue is depended on the rich participation of representatives/ stakeholder. The role of facilitators/moderators are also important. Therefore, neutral facilitators should serves as conversation starters and assist with identifying and outlining CVE objectives and priorities; and steering the conversation with open ended questions to ensure realistic recommendations and actions are developed for tackling violent extremism based on the local context.
3. Decision Making/Results:
At every stage of the dialogue process, it is important to highlight and assess recommendations and action oriented suggestions outlined by the participants; especially regarding policy making (and implementation) on CVE, advocacy, improving dialogue processes. This stocktaking of action points will allow stakeholders to measure their progress and impact, and overall contribute and influence the outcome of the CVE mission. In this case, stakeholders will make joint decisions on how to prioritize outcomes and how to pursue or implement them.
I have had the opportunity to put to test these 3 criteria’s during workshops and capacity building sessions through the North East Intellectual Entrepreneurship Fellowship (NEIEF). The representation of Nigerian youths (targetting on the three most affected states) from all over the country; creating platforms and forums active participation between these representatives; and begin results oriented and outcome based (CVE resources, information, and materials are developed and disseminated on social media) is positively impacting the CVE movement in Nigeria.
For more, see #NotAnotherNigerian on medium, twitter, instragram and facebook.