Nigeria: Integrated Approach to countering violent extremism 0

Increasing challenge of security globally by burgeoning armies of terror groups, from ISIS in the Middle East, El-Shabab in the Horns of Africa, Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Boko Haram in Nigeria and West Africa has led to a more robust counter terrorism operations costing over $11.6 million daily according to US Department of State figure.

Unfortunately, most of these funds have been directed towards military campaign funding for CVE activities in countries like Nigeria. Direct efforts towards radicalization prevention and de-radicalization has benefitted from less than five percent of CVE funding.

Years of research has resolved clear understanding and agreement that terrorists are never born; neither religion nor personality traits major influence for terrorism, as it is averred that most terrorists are created by socio-political issues within their environments.

Despite agreements on lack of humanly justifiable reasons to resort to violence and terror in solving community based affliction, several writings maintains that; human rights violation, agitation over resources, political and resources marginalization, lack of good governance and systematic barriers to economic opportunities as primary drivers of radicalization to violence.

Appeal to force has continued to rob local security operations of needed resources to grow. Military spending accounts for more than 70 percent of the CVE budget in Nigeria. The foremost state response to conflict or agitation has been the use superior force of the military. Military operations currently straddled policing duties in over 29 states in Nigeria. While military operations are more decisive and swift in dealing with uprising and terror groups, clear evidence collected from military over 17 years operations against insurgents in Nigeria Niger Delta showed the inefficiency of employing bare force in handling groups agitations.

The clear understanding of terror groups’ survival has been in propagation of ideas, which are easily transmitted and assimilated by different groups without even direct contacts with proponents. Exterminating terror groups through airstrikes, drones and bullets, many experts has revealed only complicates the issues further and creates more problem in the long run.

Lack of proper alignments of all resources directed towards breaking the circle of terrorists recruitment processes and reducing radicalism has challenged achievements in the sector. Stratified planning system and uncoordinated operations by a lack of centralized funding and control mechanism in place. Multi-sector approach should be well controlled to achieve projected results instead of deepening age-old agency rivalries.

Prioritization of better data collection, evaluation and presentation processes is required to enable appropriate evaluation of progress in CVE operations. Clear goals needed to be set, proper allocation of duties with set deliverable based on time parameters defined.

Having clear understanding of the socio-political environment role in driving radicalization in modern states, it become unlikely that a single solution –appeal to force- will solve the problem and eradicate the menace in a few week. To get the required result more comprehensive context-specific strategies integrating multiple level approaches must be designed and executed alongside the military operations.

Since the community remains the fulcrum of terror groups operations, CVE operations should be more collaborative and inclusive of collective inputs and comprehensive responses from youth, women and minority groups in the society. Proper CVE actions should support local law enforcement agencies, boost community groups engaged in developing good governance, improve opportunities for public socio-economic development, unaligned access to resources for marginalized and deprived people to reduce poverty, allow for proper programme for infrastructure development and increase programmes that will restore public pride and trust in state’s institutions.

In a nutshell, proper CVE should be people and community driven allowing for contributions and initiatives from the people. Consultation and regular meetings with the leaders, youth and women groups could act as means of educating, informing and nurturing the public in its roles in the CVE programmes; and at the same time effectively be a vehicle for harnessing data, create an information back channel for early warning on radicalized groups operations in the community. We can only win the war through winning the hearts and mind of the people of Northeast Nigeria.

By Don Michael Adeniji

About the author: Don Michael Adeniji is a Contributing Editor with the Cameroon Concord News Group and a long standing Nigerian expert in Terrorism, International Crime and Global Security.