Re-emphasising youths’ role in National Security Strategy review
A News Analysis by Ismail Abdulaziz, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Youths are drivers of the future of any nation that sets strategic goals for security and growth, concerned Nigerians have observed.
According to them, this ought to be done with a conscious effort and virile security strategy that the current situation in the country demands.
Over time, security has been a big challenge for the country, irrespective of who is the leader or the ruling party.
They note also that transitional strategies have evolved and led to a National Security Strategy that recognises reasons while the country must continue to re-emphasise on some factors to counter various evolving terrorist threats.
The National Security Strategy of Nigeria outlines the major security concerns of the nation for which policies and strategies have been articulated and how the government plans to deal with them.
It underscores the belief and generally acknowledged view that security is the cornerstone of development and progress in a free society, and that security is a guarantee of the well-being of citizens and stability of the state.
Undoubtedly, authorities must address the full range of potential catastrophic events, including man-made and natural disasters because of their implications on national security.
One interesting aspect of implementing this strategy by the Office of the National Security Adviser was its effort to get a buy in of all stakeholders in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria.
The National Security Adviser to the President, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, while speaking on the new security strategy said: “Through peace, security and development initiatives and adherence to our core national values, cultures, traditions and networks; we are committed to working to deny violent extremists such as Boko Haram insurgents the ability to recruit.
“We shall also ensure that they do not divide us and use grievances in our communities to their advantage.
“This Policy Framework and National Action Plan shall operate for three years before review.
“The Office of the National Security Adviser through the Counter Terrorism Centre shall provide strategic coordination and synergy of efforts towards the successful implementation of this effort in preventing and countering violent extremism.
President Muhammadu Buhari, while launching the security strategy in August 2017, recognised that the “the threat from violent extremism undermines fundamental freedoms and national values enshrined in our Federal constitution.
“It poses a clear danger to the safety and prosperity of our citizens, neighbours and the international community.
“As a free, peaceful and enterprising nation, majority of our citizens are against the twisted ideology of the terrorists, and as a government, we are committed to addressing all the conditions that are conducive to the spread of violent extremism.
“Through our laws, values, cultures; faith and community actors, our local and international partners, including civil society and the private sector, we are partnering for safer and resilient communities to prevent and counter violent extremism.”
The 2017 launch of the strategy has thereby made it a full cycle for review as enunciated by the NSA.
The review therefore becomes imperative to capture the essence of setting up the strategy in the first place.
The role of the youth cannot be overemphasised in the effort to Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria.
In most conflicts, the youths have been identified as the key factors in the organisation, execution as well as those at the receiving end of such conflicts. This is not, however, foreclosing the participation by other age groups.
In a conference paper entitled: “Youths as agents of countering terrorism and violent extremism in North-East Nigeria’’, Umar Yusuf Lawal, a stakeholder, said that on the aspect of security, youth efforts on instigating violence as well as ameliorating it could not be overlooked.
“Youths, in spite of being the backbones of any development, still constitute huge percentage in facilitating different sorts of violent acts in Nigeria, including farmer-herder conflict, militant vandalisations and Boko Haram insurgency,’’ he said.
He observed that in the North-East zone of the country, commendable efforts had been made by youths to curb terrorism.
According to him, the youth constitute the civilian joint task force that liaise with security agencies to tackle the insurgents.
“In the review of the national security strategy, which is quite due by now, the role of the youth must be unequivocally restated to give them a moral education and sensitisation that will engender patriotism and make them to effectively nip terrorism and violent crimes in the bud in their communities.
Also, the African Centre for Strategic Studies report of March 30 states that as Nigeria’s challenges are largely domestic in nature, this national security strategy will require active citizen engagement, insisting that citizen cooperation may be the most essential element of a successful response in each context.
According to the centre, Nigeria’s security forces are starting from a deficit of trust and security force violence against citizens is often viewed as part of the security problem.
It says remedying this and building trust with citizens will be a top and ongoing priority of any national security strategy.
The centre’s report, which points out the role of security agencies in this wise, is in line with a UNDP observation in 2017.
The UNDP observes that “while multidimensional poverty and a lack of education may make certain people more at risk than others to join violent extremist groups, the tipping point—that moment when a person decides to join the group—appears to be when an at-risk individual experienced a government arrest or killing of a family member or friend’’.
Observers, therefore, note that state security conduct is the key to whether an individual joins a violent extremist group.
According to them, more oversight of the state security sector in terms of human rights compliance, accountability, rule of law, and civilian participation is imperative.
They note that various interventions by the Office of the National Security Adviser such as training of law enforcement and security officials on observance of human rights in the prevention of violent extremism; collaboration with national and international agencies; as well as Community- Based Platforms for Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism across the country must carry the youths along as a necessary option to achieving the National Security Strategy.
They also recommend the the use of Ministries, Departments and Agencies such as the Federal and States Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in particularly as a rallying point for stakeholders in youth affairs.
***If used, please credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)