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By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA

The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development have held capacity-building training for its staff on preventing and countering violent extremism in the country.

This came as the ministry government has recognised the gravity of challenges that violent extremism has posed to national progress, economic development, democratization and social cohesion among others and has articulated a broad policy framework to provide direction and coordination for the various initiatives that have been launched to tackle the menace of violent extremism in the country.

Over 2.7 million Nigerians are said to have been displaced as a result of ongoing conflict with Boko Haram as well as other forms of violence, both man-made and natural causes, with increased tension within and across the borders.

In his welcome address at the event held in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry,Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, lamented that
Nigeria was currently facing serious threats from violent extremism targeted against individuals, groups and the state.

Gwarzo, who explained that the training was aimed at strengthening the capacity of the staff on preventing and countering violent extremism, regretted that “Nigeria is currently facing serious threats from violent extremism targeted against individuals, groups and the state.”

” These threats have gravely undermined economic development, social progress, political stability, national and human security, and peaceful coexistence in the country. It has divided communities, exacerbated conflicts, and destabilized an entire country as a whole,” he regretted.

According to Gwarzo,”The activities of violent extremist individuals and groups have claimed thousands of innocent lives, destroyed private properties and public facilities and also forced millions of citizens to flee their homes and communities, thereby creating a huge population of internally displaced persons and refugees.”

While noting that,”It is imperative to reflect on the complex humanitarian, political and developmental challenges posed by violent extremism”, he also regretted that:” Refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons have suffered repeated displacement over the past years as a result of the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram as well as other forms of violence, both man-made and natural causes in the specific area resulting to displacement population of over 2.7 million in Nigeria with an increased tension within and across the borders.”

“Nigerian Government has recognised the gravity of challenges that violent extremism has posed to national progress, economic development, democratization, social cohesion, etc and has articulated a broad policy framework to provide direction and coordination for the various initiatives that have been launched to tackle the menace of violent extremism in the country.

“The objective of this programme is to enhance your knowledge, prevent wrong narratives, and describe the whole of government/society approaches in preventing and countering violent extremism in Nigeria,” he added.

He spoke further:”Against this backdrop, Dr Gwarzo said “the ministry has invited the office of the National Security Adviser,ONSA, through the Counter Terrorism Centre who is responsible to provide strategic coordination and synergy of efforts towards the successful implementation of this effort in preventing and countering violent extremism as well as other relevant resource persons to take us through this capacity building.

“It is my sincere hope that this programme would bring lasting perceptions and policy recommendations on how to support the government in addressing the challenges of violent extremism in Nigeria.”

Also speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, FCT,Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, applauded, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Ministry, Disaster Management and Social Development, for taking the right step by training front liners in the counter-insurgency efforts of the federal government.

Speaking through Mrs Miriam Yakubu Ikunaiye, her representative and Special Assistant on Community Security and Counter Terrorism, Dr Aliyu said she was delighted to be at the pioneer event of Capacity Building on Prevention and Countering Violent Extremism.

She said: “In 2016, the United Nations effort on the need for a holistic security approach that includes systemic preventive steps that address the underlying conditions that drive an individual to radicalize and join violent extremism.

“And in looking at the peace and security matters in Nigeria, the Federal Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari felt the need to explore the dialogue option, in line with the global practice of preventative measures to address violent upsurge even before it starts.

“Responding to the mandate given to the Heads Government of Commonwealth Nations, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), is championing a non-coercive approach to address the drivers of violent extremism that make at-risk communities, a target.

“As a result of the above effort to trickle down to the communities, the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) were charged to establish a PCVE Desk to address PCVE Matters and other programs within their mandate.

“And for this end, the Humanitarian Ministry has taken the right step, by training your front liners in building their capacity so that they can be conversant with PCVE Matters and be ready to carry out well, the management against conditions conducive for radicalization and violent extremism.”

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