Former President of Nigeria and Club de Madrid Member, Olusegun Obasanjo, urged the Nigerian government to sustain the on-going fight against insurgency and other crimes in the country during while strengthening democracy by providing its dividends to Nigerians. He made these remarks in the workshop “Preventing Violent Extremism in Nigeria: Effective Narratives and Messaging” on the 23rd and 24th of May 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria. It was organized by the Club de Madrid in collaboration with the Office of The National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Partnership Against Violent Extremism (PAVE Network).
The discussion was also highlighted with the participation of the National Security Adviser Office to the President, retired Maj.-Gen. Muhammed Munguno. The workshop was part of the “Preventing Violent Extremism: Leaders Telling a Different Story”, funded by the European Union.
The Forum included key national interlocutors, religious leaders, from policy-makers to media actors, civil society representatives and grassroots practitioners. It provided a unique opportunity for bridging the gap between national policies and local realities by promoting multi-stakeholders dialogue, trust-building efforts and sharing of experiences among state and non-state actors.
President Obasanjo stressed that the aim of this workshop was to discuss effective alternative narrative against violent extremism championed by Boko Haram a new narrative to challenges violent extremism in Nigeria. According to him, various governments must consistently invest in their people as one of the panacea to ending violent extremism in the country.
He stated, “the narrative of government authorities was to deal with it, with the stick, when the narrative became the stick, some of his followers went legal, they got compensation, government did not pay their members, they were being hunted and hounded, so they went into violence and that violence has not stopped.“We did not have a stick in time for Boko Haram, it has festered and gone beyond Maiduguri and Nigeria, and we have a monster, if we had tamed it much earlier with the right narrative, with the right action, the story might have been different.”
The National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, retired Maj.-Gen. Muhammed Munguno, said that in order to success in the fight against violent extremism we need to properly address governance challenges and lack of opportunities, while supporting democratic institutions, especially in the North- East. The NSA, who was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary, ONSA, Alhaji Aminu Nabegu, stressed that ONSA had greatly contributed to global efforts in tackling violent extremism, and that they will launch the new National Framework on PVE in August.
In the course of the Workshop, a closed session of a Civil Society Working Group was held, during which a Declaration was articulated. The Declaration from the Civil Society Working Group was presented to the broader multi-stakeholder session.
The Club of Madrid Members are committed to promote democratic and comprehensive solutions to PVE challenges in Nigeria. CdM welcomes the Nigerian´s national efforts and seeks to continue supporting the Office of the National Security Adviser in the promotion and implementation of the National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, with special focused on developing alternatives narratives to challenge violent extremism.