BY AHURAKA ISAH, Abuja
Conflict Adviser of the Department for International Development (DFID) representative in Nigeria, Dr Joseph Ochogwu has disclosed that the UK government has committed over £38 million to support the government and people of Nigeria to end the threat posed by terrorists.
Ochogwu who stated this in his welcome remark stated this at the opening of 2-day workshop organised by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) for the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) Strategic Communication Liaison Officers and some selected journalists.
He said the commitment was to Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) for a five-year programme implementation to help reduce violent conflicts by ensuring that conflicts are managed through non-violent approaches.
The non-violent approaches involve the strategies of , tackling fake news, reducing effects of violent extremist ideology on those who are vulnerable to its appeal or de-radicalization as well as redressing societal imbalances and deficits such as welfare, education, economic opportunity, justice and human rights among others.
DFID Conflict Adviser said ending terrorism in Nigeria requires collective efforts from the society and communication is one of the main keys to ending the fight against terrorists.
In the same vein, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated Federal Government has recruited and trained competent information officers that now possess requisite skills to fish out and tackle the prevalent cases of “fake news” on social and traditional media.
“Faced with the prevalence of fake news we took action by preparing Information Officers with the skills to identify and counter such fake news through engagement and counter narrative,” he added.
This is just as the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Mungono (rtd) had explained that the insurgents at the heart of every threat, including terrorism, is a dangerous communication objective, which the enemy tries to put across.
NSA noted that the “main objective has been to synchronise Government communication, address our audiences, craft the right messages that will support our strategic narratives and ultimately, communicate our values in words and deeds while deconstructing the negative message of individuals and groups who seek to divide us and challenge our one, indivisible, democratic and progressive nation.”
Monguno who also stressed that “the nexus between strategic communication and national security is deeply rooted”; noted that the terrorist groups from Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS use communication to propagate and sustain their violent ideology.
‘’These groups, he said, are adept at the use of fear appeals and terrorist acts to communicate and always be on the news, unfortunately because the news media have a responsibility to report, our news channels are replete with the negative news of terror and conflicts.
“Government therefore struggles daily on how best to communicate effectively in order to counter these narratives.
However, Ochogwu the workshop was part of UK Government’s strategic partnership with the Government of Nigeria towards ensuring both national and international peace and security.
‘’As UK Government, we are committed to ending global poverty and promoting stability. In our onerous quest towards ensuring global peace, stability and prosperity, we deploy UK resources in the directions where the poorest and most vulnerable persons affected by violence are able to find hope through our humanitarian, development and stability programmes in fragile and conflict affected societies.
‘’We are all living witnesses to the terrible and horrible acts of terrorism and consequent complex humanitarian situation caused by the Boko Haram in recent years and the continue threat these elements pose to Nigeria and the international community. The UK government is committed to supporting the government and people of Nigeria to end the threat posed by terrorists. Our support to the Nigerian government and people through the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) is one of such several supports from the UK to Nigeria. Both countries are strategic partners with mutually shared goals and objectives in building a peaceful and prosperous world.
‘’As part of our commitment to Nigeria, UK government committed over £38million to NSRP for a five-year programme implementation to help reduce violent conflicts by ensuring that conflicts are managed through non-violent approaches.
‘’NSRP has worked in eight (8) states and at the federal level. NSRP’s engagement with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is one of such approaches. We are happy with the partnership with ONSA and the achievements achieved thus far.
‘’ The openness of ONSA to work with both state and non-state actors particularly civil society organisations through the NSRP is highly commendable. Equally, important is the use of research to inform changed policies and practices in order to meet contemporary security challenges which are often not met by hard-military approaches.
‘’Ending terrorism in Nigeria requires collective efforts from the society and communication is one of the main keys to ending the fight against terrorists. Participants here present, your roles in the fight against terrorism is very important as the effectiveness of your work in your respective MDAs will help address both the remote and proximate causes of terrorism as well as provide a unified government approach towards ending the menace. It is our hope that the capacity that will be built during the workshop will be rightly and effectively deployed to service for the good of Nigeria and her people.
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BY AHURAKA ISAH, Abuja