Nigerian National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, on Tuesday launched a non-military “soft” approach to counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria’s North East Boko Haram enclave.
He said the new move will utilize existing structures within and outside government to deliver targeted programmes and activities that will stem the tide of radicalization which leads to terrorism.
Col. Dasuki said that the new approach, which will be implemented through “both vertical - involving the three tiers of government (federal, state and local governments), and horizontal - involving civil society, academics, traditional, religious and community leaders', will include implementation of an economic turnaround policy at the end of the State of Emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
The unveiled soft approach to counter-terrorism initiatives, Col Dasuki stated, will be based on the principles that terrorism is un-Islamic, counter-terrorism is not against Muslims, encouragement and empowerment of Muslims to speak out against terror, ensuring that Muslim-Christian relations be used to stop terrorists’ desperate goal to ignite a religious war and that counter-terrorism is apolitical as the government will build inter-party collaboration for counter-terrorism operations.
According to the NSA, “based on our understanding of the economic root causes of terrorism and global best practices in addressing them, we are working with the Governors of the six North Eastern states of Nigeria to design an economic revitalization programme targeted towards the states most impacted by terrorism.
'Working with various stakeholders, we are currently designing a regional economic revitalization plan.'
In December 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan tasked leaders of the North East region and the NSA to develop a joint regional redevelopment plan which will serve as the foundation for a federal-state partnership to revitalize the region’s economy.
Col. Dasuki said: “An inter-ministerial committee consisting of the Ministries of Agriculture, Power, Finance, Works, Water Resources, Health, Education, Transport, Communication, Culture and Tourism, Industry-Trade and Investments, Solid Minerals Development, Science and Technology, Youth Development, and Lands and Housing, along with SMEDAN, the Budget Office, the National Planning Commission, development partners and my office is currently working with the region under the aegis of the Presidential Initiative for the Northeast (PINE).
“There exists a window of opportunity because communities are already indicating preference for peace and stability, having realized the danger that violent extremism presents both socially, psychologically and economically. More communities are providing prompt and actionable intelligence to security forces that have led to the capture of violent extremists or weapons caches.
'We realize that every Nigerian has a role to play in countering violent extremism. The Soft approach provides us with a framework that identifies the roles and responsibilities of every segment of our society: the governors, local government chairmen, national and state assembly members, political parties, trade unions, the private sector, traditional institutions, ministers and government officials, academics, in fact a whole-of –society approach that involves everyone vertically and horizontally to confront violent extremism.”
Col. Dasuki saluted “the immense sacrifices that our military and law enforcement officers have made. We must also remember the souls we have lost and those they left behind, whole communities that have been sacked and the increasing numbers of orphans and victims a large number of whom are children.
'When we reflect this horrendous damage and feel the pain and loss we should remember that the only thing left for us to do is to stand up against this violence. We can do this whether we are in government or not because as a family or community we all have a circle of influence through which we can mobilize by our words or our good deeds, reach out to our neighbors and consult one another, provide intelligence when we suspect something and build bridges of trust that ensure collaboration.”
The NSA also acknowledged the media’s effort in the fight against terrorism, saying that “though we may not agree at all times, but a careful analysis of the Nigerian press since this insurgency would reveal that the press have sided with the Nigerian people at great risks to the safety and security of their businesses.”
He assured Nigerians that “government is doing everything to protect lives and property. We have developed a programme that is inclusive and our doors are open for new ideas or inputs that the public may have.
'We are equally developing a monitoring and evaluation framework that would track implementation of each stream of the programme and will be publicizing our reports and sharing best practices learnt.”