By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has denied saying that “rich Nigerians” were signing for Boko Haram sect.
It will be recalled that the Vice President in a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, Tuesday, on the intention of the Federal Government to establish a communications center to counter the sect’s ideologies stated that “I have seen people who are well-to-do being recruited into terrorism.’’
But reacting to how some Newspapers (Vanguard not inclusive) reported the story, Akande in a statement on Wednesday said that the Vice President was quoted out of context.
His statements reads as thus: “Comments of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in the above titled press release were taken out of context by some of the papers and some of the reports misleading.
“There was no mention of “Rich Nigerians” anywhere in the release as some media reported. There was no reference to Nigerians at all. Also the Vice President was not raising any alarm of any kind.
“The Vice President was talking about the mindless ideologies of violent extremism and terrorism, and not about mindless people as some of the reports stated.
He said such ideologies drew different people including those who were lured into terrorism with money and those who are well-to-do.
“This clarification is to set public records straight.”
Boko Haram: FG to establish communications center in north east to counter terrorists violent ideologies, says Osinbajo
Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday in Abuja said that the Federal Government was planning to establish a crisis communication centre that would provide information to counter violent extremist ideology especially in the North-East.
He gave the hint yesterday while receiving the US Special Envoy on Counter Terrorism Communication, Rashad Hussain, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Vice President who wondered why negative ideologies, opinions and actions easily gain acceleration also stated that it was critical to define and disseminate positive narratives that expose the evil of terrorism, asserting the ultimate victory of good over evil.
He said: “For some strange reasons, something that appears so completely mindless and almost insane gains currency in a way that gets regular recruits”, wondering “why the completely mindless ideology gains the kind of currency that it gains.”
The Vice President who said he would have preferred positive messages, however noted that though some people had been lured into participating in terrorist acts for money, others with rich financial background had also being recruited.
“I have seen people who are well-to-do being recruited into terrorism”, he said.
Expressing gratitude to the U.S. Envoy for his interest in stamping out terrorism in Nigeria, the Vice President also disclosed that government was going to put up a campaign involving civil societies, young people and Non-Governmental Organizations, coming together and interacting to provide positive counter narratives against those of violent groups like Boko Haram.
Speaking earlier, the US Envoy, Hussain noted that the insurgent had a strong propaganda machinery which he said should be countered.
He observed that the majority of the people have already rejected Boko Haram but their voices were being downplayed in the media, recalling that Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Barack Obama discussed the issue during their meeting in White House earlier in July.
According to him, there was need to develop and disseminate content that would educate and inform audience about efforts to counter Boko Haram insurgency, and projects Nigerian democratic processes as well, suggesting that the social and traditional media should be engaged in addition to satellite television among others in a credible way.
At the Special Envoy’s meeting with the Vice President were the three principal members of the Buhari Presidential Communications team: Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser; Mallam Garba Shehu and Mr. Laolu Akande.
The Special Envoy was accompanied by other US officials including Ms Maria E. Bruwer, Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria and Stevie Hamilton, Deputy Coordinator, Center for Strategic Counter-terrorism Communication at the US Department of State.