A former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, has accepted to lead a national discussion towards effective alternative narrative against violent extremism championed by Boko Haram terrorists and similar groups in the country.
The forum, according to its promoters, is being championed by Club de Madrid (CdM), in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President (ONSA) with the support of Preventing Violent Extremism (PAVE) and European Union (EU).
A statement issued by the press officer of CdM, Luis Pérez, e-mailed to The Trent, that the NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), will also give updates on the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East.
Perez said that Obasanjo is the Nigerian member and representative of CdM, which is an independent non-profit organization composed of more than 100 former presidents and prime ministers from 69 democratic countries.
According to him, the forum this week bring together the former president, Monguno and ket national interlocutors from policy-makers to media actors, regional organizations, civil society representatives and grassroots practitioners to deliberate on ‘Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) in Nigeria.
He said the aim of the meeting is “to highlight the importance of delivering credible positive-narratives; bridging the gap between government and civil society actors; and to reorient narratives of political, community and religious leaders, and media towards tolerance, inclusion and dialogue”.
“The National Workshop will include case studies, thematic roundtables and focused attention on steps towards improving existing practices and policies on delivering alternative narratives to challenge violent extremism. “
“On the first day, the ONSA will present the current challenges and opportunity for advancing a PCVE framework and action plan for Nigeria. Since 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria has made important efforts in developing a National Policy Framework and Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. This framework seeks to guide the development of a national approach to tackle violent extremism.”
“Thereafter, a Civil Society Working Group will be organized to discuss the role of civil society in Nigeria, their challenges and what needs to be done in order to strengthen civil society engagement in the implementation of the National Action Plan on P/CVE.
“The conclusions will then be presented to the key governmental and non-governmental actors in an advocacy effort to support national policy frameworks on this front. The outcomes of the Workshop will ultimately be incorporated in a final recommendations report – main outcome of the project – on delivering alternative narratives to counter violent extremism.”
The Press Officer noted that the workshop will provide a unique opportunity for bridging the gap between national policies and local realities.
In it, he stated, participants will address issues of effective messaging; building trust and sustainable partnership among interlocutors; role of civil society in community resilience; and influence of traditional and social media in radicalization and recruitment.
Perez said the Madrid based International NGO, is implementing its project Preventing Violent Extremism: Leaders Telling a Different Story (2016-2017), with one of the main outcomes being a set of evidence-based recommendations on how to create positive messaging and which tools and strategies are more effective to challenge violent extremism.
To that end, he said, a first round of focus groups was held in three targeted countries: Nigeria, Tunisia and Lebanon. The current second phase includes national and regional consultations.
The Club de Madrid responds to a growing demand for support to address a number of challenges in democratic governance by providing the experience and valuable leadership of its members.