Community-Based Strategies in Countering Violent Extremism: Specific Options for Citizen Action in Nigeria – Part IV
Not an exhaustive document of CVE activities, this paper in four parts explores community-based initiatives being implemented around the world, with focus placed on Australia, Kenya, and the United States, as they represent different challenges. This paper does not provide analysis regarding political or military strategy within Nigeria, the region, or other countries. It does not profess to provide all of the solutions to countering violent extremism in Nigeria and the region. The purpose of this paper is to be a framework to foster dialogue regarding various ways in which local citizens, religious institutions, and NGOs can address violent extremism.
Nigeria, now what?
The Nigerian military has been battling violent extremism deployed by Boko Haram militarily for several years. In Spring 2014, Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retired), then National Security Advisor to the President, presented options for a soft approach to countering terrorism. During his speech he stressed the following points: terrorism is un-Islamic, counterterrorism is not against Muslims, Muslims should be encouraged and empowered to speak out against terror, Muslim-Christian relations should be encouraged, counterterrorism is apolitical and the government will build inter-party collaboration. Later the same year, Colonel Dasuki discussed a deradicalization initiative and the establishment of a multidisciplinary prison that focuses on managing terror suspects.[i] The United Nations provides counterterrorism support[ii] through multiple institutions.[iii]
The purpose of this article in four parts is to engage people who are interested in the safety and security of Nigeria and seek to counter violent extremism at the community level. Part One provided a brief overview of the situation in Nigeria. Part Two and Part Three provided examples of strategies in CVE that focus on interfaith dialogue and political empowerment of would-be extremists. Part Four outlines some of the strategies that are currently being implemented within Nigeria.
Interfaith Dialogue and Action Strategies
- The New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation (NEEDCSI)[iv] has a mission to “establish cross-cultural leadership teams of young women and men, with skills that will help them emerge from dysfunctional families and a drug-influenced life on the streets, to become peer-leaders and agents of peace capable of helping themselves and influencing their communities for good. We are intentionally teaming spiritual innovators and other exemplary adults with needful youth to equip them to pass forward all they have learned as valuable, contributing agents of change in their communities.” The organization has programming in exploring faiths, civic engagement, and peace-building. NEEDCSI also hosts an annual Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue.[v] The theme of the 7th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue, November 20-21, 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria is: “The Role of Religions to Promote Peace, Security, Sustainable Development and Transcend Violent Extremism in Africa”. The Conference is organized by NEEDCSI, in partnership with United Religions Initiative-Africa. and Universal Peace Federation-Nigeria.
- The Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC)[vi] is a non-profit, non-governmental faith based organization envisioning an inclusive society free from violent ethno-religious conflicts. It aims to prevent violence and promote trust and relationship building by fostering dialogue among people of different faiths and communities in Nigeria and beyond. Specifically, IMC is a community-based organization that specializes in Muslim-Christian dialogue and mediation. The Community Peace Action Network (CPAN)[vii], an IMC variant of the Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) mechanism, is a community-based early warning and early response system that systematically collects, analyses and disseminates conflict and peace information coming from areas of crises for the purpose of preventing or reducing escalation of anticipated violent conflict; developing strategic responses and presenting options to critical actors for the purposes of decision-making.
- The Nigerian Inter-faith Action Association (NIFAA)[viii] unites Christian and Muslim leaders in a multi-sectoral effort to engage religious communities in the fight against poverty and disease, with focus action issues being malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, polio, and poverty impact. A key faith-based partner of the Nigerian government’s National Malaria Control Programme, in December 2009 NIFAA began the year-long “Faiths United for Health” campaign to train 300,000 religious leaders to spearhead the widespread distribution of anti-malarial bed nets. Campaign materials also include suggestions for preaching on the issue and encouraging healthy behaviors in community members. NIFAA is co-chaired by Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, and the executive director is Bishop Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha. Other organizational partners include the Nigeria Inter Religious Council, Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, and Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
As with the other parts of the article, the above examples only represent a sample of the initiatives currently being implemented in Nigeria that directly and indirectly seek to counter violent extremism. The examples of initiatives implemented in other countries that were referenced in the previous article parts may not exist in Nigeria. Readers are encouraged to review and discuss the applicability of the projects in the Nigerian context.
[i] International Centre for Investigative Reporting. (October 14, 2014) FG Partners, Civil Society, Religious Organizations, In New Counter Terrorism Approach. http://icirnigeria.org/fg-partners-civil-society-religious-organisations-in-new-counter-terrorism-approach/
[ii] United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force. http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/ctitf/proj_iact.shtml
[iii] International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Hague. “CVE and Community Resilience in Nigeria.” http://icct.nl/update/cve-and-community-resilience-in-nigeria/
[iv] New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation. www.needcsi.org
[vi] Interfaith Mediation Centre. http://www.imc-nigeria.org/
[viii] Nigerian Inter-faith Action Association. http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/organizations/nigerian-inter-faith-action-association
Source de la photo: http://www.pri.org/