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Yusuf Abubakar’s antidote to violent extremism

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By Prof Muhammad K Isa


The book titled “In God’s Name we Fight; embracing and renouncing violent extremism” by Yusuf Abubakar Mamud speaks to young Nigerians especially those living in Northeast Nigeria. The author used very unconventional style to narrate the story of radicalization and de-radicalization. The inherent objective of the book is to communicate to the Nigerian youth the ills of imbibing violent extremist behavior and to illustrate to the government of Nigeria and the world at large some tips useful for de-radicalization.

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Abubakar used a simple method to narrate the story in such a way that it will easily appeal to the average Nigerian youth who is not keen about reading nowadays. This therefore informed the size of the book which is less than 60 pages. Abubakar deliberately made the chapters very short and infused a bit of local language in the storyline in order to attract even those who are not intellectual but can read and write. It is a known fact that countries adopt different de-radicalization and counter violent extremism strategies. In Nigeria, our counter violent extremism strategy is espoused in the National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. The book tried to explain in loose language that these national strategies often do not help to address the pains of the victims. Instead such strategies are weaved to evolve an elitist class in the fight against violent extremism.

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It is obvious from the book that the author argues for a more flexible strategy of preventing and countering violent extremism that will accommodate local people as the frontline responders. The argument of the book is that violent extremists are ordinary people who may be ignorant or psychologically unstable. Their victims are the vulnerable poor women and children in local communities. The book suggests that Nigerian Government seem to busy itself with complicated intellectual analysis instead of looking at community-based strategies.

The last chapter of the book is a masterly summary of the entire narrative designed primarily to capture the real message which is the need to change our strategy in preventing and countering violent extremism in Nigeria. The central theme of the message is that love, empathy and dialogue from the family, religious leaders and civil society groups would go a long way to addressing the challenges of violent extremism in Nigeria.

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