Collaboration, critical to mitigating ECOWAS bloc’s security challenges —Ochogwu

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By Mark Longyen

Dr Joseph Ochogwu, Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), says stakeholders’ collaboration, partnerships and networking, is crucial towards mitigating the prevailing violent extremism and terrorism in West Africa.

Ochogwu stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a women and youth training program organised by Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Accra, on Thursday, in Abuja.

He said all stakeholders must work collaboratively in partnership with institutions like ECOWAS and community-based organisations, while networking at the national and sub-national levels, to curb violent extremism and terrorism.

According to him, this is why the IPCR, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs parastatal, is partnering KAIPTC in the training program, while also collaborating with security agencies, the media and civil society.

“There is what we call collaboration, partnership and networking. The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre has been a great ally, particularly in terms of providing the training component and we, IPCR, on the other side, in knowledge production.

“So, we’ve been joint partners in this process of preventing and countering violent extremism, not only within Nigeria but within the West African sub region and at the global level. There is a global action against terrorism and transnational organised crime and all that.

“What we are seeing here is the soft side, in terms of the non-kinetic approach, of how to engage, in preventing and countering violent extremism. There is also the military side in countering violent extremism and all that.

“So it’s a cocktail, a mix of these approaches with the kinetic and non-kinetic approaches, knowledge production and training, that enables us to mitigate the advances of violent extremist groups and criminal groups within the sub region,” he said.

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Ochogwu said there was also a national action plan and framework on preventing and countering violent extremism, adding that IPCR had been trying to open it up and follow the implementation and policy framework for prevention and countering of violent extremism.

He said that the institute had also been working with partners, like the Office of the National Security Adviser, the  security services, and relevant soft agencies, stressing that there was a need to constantly mainstream and amplify it.

“We can’t work in silos to achieve results. We must work collaboratively on networking at the national level, and even at the sub-national level with other actors, as well as community-based organisations, for us to be able to nip some of these excesses in the bud.

“And that is what we are doing at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, to ensure that it is an all of government and all of society approach on how we are able to deal with these issues, as government alone cannot do it, society alone cannot do it.

“So you need the cooperation and collaboration between the government, that is, state and non-state actors for us to be able to achieve this. Also, there is a critical role too, for the media as the fourth estate of the realm, for them to be in this battle, and I’m happy that you guys are part of it, in terms of coverage,” he said.

The IPCR boss emphasised that in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism within the ECOWAS sub region, and also globally, no individual, country, or institution could do it alone, except through a cross partnership.

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“You can see Kofi Annan (KAIPTC) based in Ghana, is here in Nigeria, providing knowledge in this particular area, in terms of the triggering of NGOs and civil society, particularly the vulnerable groups, that is, women and youth.

“So, it’s something we need to cascade and escalate across the sub-region, because it is not okay for one particular side to have a knowledge and the other side doesn’t have a knowledge.

“So be it Anglophone, Francophone or Russophone, all of us need to be on board in terms of preventing and countering violent extremism within the sub region,” Ochogwu added(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Halima Sheji

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