…expresses concern over impact of violent extremism on Nigerian youth
…as resource persons call for proactive actions to prevent violent extremism
By Gabriel Ewepu
AS Nigeria sets to clock 62 years of independence in less than 24 hours, insecurity continues to devastate lives, property, peace and development, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Friday, revealed that 408 million youth are affected by armed conflict.
This was made known by the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, in an address of welcome at “The Learning and Dissemination of Policy Brief on PVE Implementation’ held in Abuja.
Obi who was represented by the Head of Programmes, AAN, Nkechi Ilochi-Kanny, said the affected 408 million youth basically ranges between ages 15-29 who live in areas affected by armed conflict or organised violence.
She also explained that seven years ago the United Nations Security Council adopted the groundbreaking resolution on Youth, Peace, and Security, which recognizes that young people play important band positive role to n the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security.
According to her, a resolution that sparked momentum to create more inclusive peace and security efforts including preventing violent extremism and counterterrorism.
She pointed that the United Nations Security Council Resolution, UNSCR, 2250 identifies five key pillars for action: Participation, Protection, Prevention, Partnership, and Disengagement and Reintegration, which she urged stakeholders and tiers of government to give youth the opportunities by creating and implementing favourable policies that promote youth inclusion and give them a voice in the decision making process at the local, State and national levels, as this would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peacebuilding processes.
She said: “Sadly, young women are also the most vulnerable to violen extremist ideologies.
“About 408 million youth (ages 15-29) live in areas affected by armed conflict or organised violence. While we do not know how many of them are young women, we know that violent extremists target their rights and opportunities, and exploit harmful gender stereotypes and norms to advance their objectives.
“Efforts to prevent violent extremism leave young women on the margins. Although, they also risk being radicalized, very little is done understand their motivations and the gender dimensions that explain their decisions.
“We also see less action taken to de-radicalize and reintegrate young women and prevent stigma afterward. These must end as we work together to meet the challenge set out in Agenda 2030-to leave no one behind.”
However, she passionately called on state and non-state actors to create enabling environments and.safe spaces for young people that would enable them exercise the five instruments earlier mentioned.
“We must build sustainable partnerships with young people to create opportunities for them amd galvanize support for their voices to be heard.
“It is time for Government to, organisations, and other stakeholders to empower young women and men to overcome practical realities of the state of our nation.
“Such as available resources, lack of power, lack of space to decide over their realities, and non-visibility that are preventing them from taking centre stage.
“Let us support the Nigerian youth who are ready, available, and willing to be advocates for themselves and their communities”, she stated.
Meanwhile, resource persons including Jaye Gaskia, who spoke on a Policy Brief titled ‘Strengthening Community Structures in The Prevention of Violent Extremism in Nigeria’ said State Governments should consider enacting legislation, and policies that establishing Local Conflict Management Alliances in each of the local government areas; Federal Government should work with State Governments to consider establishment of a Community Development Fund: and Federal Security agencies should work with communties as measures to prevent violent extremism.
Also another resource person, Gbenro Olajuyigbe, while presenting a Policy Brief titled ‘Youth Inclusion in Politics and Governance: Pragmatic Strategy in Preventing Violent Extremism in Nigeria’, said in his recommendations that there is need to; Develop a National Youth Strategy; Political Party Strategic Plan for Youth Leadership; Engaging Youth in Violent Conflicts; Provide Social Protection Schemes; Prioritize Formal and Non-formal Education/Learning; and Targeted Policies for Youth that are Evidenced based and data.