A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and critical stakeholders in Northeast Nigeria and in Niger Republic called the “Truth Alliance” has set up a campaign against Violent Extremist Organisations, (VEOs).
The campaign tagged: “Time to tell the Truth,” which was launched Wednesday in Abuja is targeted at exposing and diminishing VEOs recruiting power. Having many terrorist/extremist groups in Nigeria, the coalition deemed it fit to launch the campaign to add their voice to the violent acts being perpetrated.
According to the coalition, the campaign seeks to diminish the support to local VEOs by discrediting their activities and divisions within them, by increasing target audience awareness of the negative consequences of VEO influence.
They also added that it will improve critical thinking and resilience to VEO propaganda and disinformation, by increasing target audiences’ ability to recognize propaganda and disinformation employed by VEOs and increasing target audiences’ ability to reject propaganda and disinformation employed by VEOs.
In his remarks, Director-General of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said the campaign was geared towards diminishing the support of violent extremist groups like Islamic State’s West Africa Province, ISWAP and Boko Haram.
He said: “This campaign is geared towards diminishing the support for violent extremist organizations such as ISWAP and Boko Haram. These organizations have been a scourge on Nigerian society for far too long, and it is time for us to collectively take action to put an end to their activities.
“Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for the loss of thousands of innocent lives and the displacement of millions of Nigerians. We cannot continue to tolerate this level of violence and destruction in our society.
“As we launch the ‘Time to Tell the Truth Campaign’, we call on all Nigerians to support this initiative. We believe that this campaign will go a long way in diminishing the support for violent extremist organizations such as Boko Haram and ISWAP. It is time for us to collectively take action to address the root causes of violent extremism and build a more peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.”
Also in her welcome speech, Executive Director of Neem Foundation, Dr Fatima Akilu, said: “The project aims to diminish the target audience supporting local VEOs by discrediting their activities and divisions within them, by increasing target audience awareness of the negative consequences of VEOS influence.“
Additionally, it aims to improve target audiences’ critical thinking and resilience to VEOs propaganda and disinformation, by increasing target audiences ability to recognize propaganda and disinformation employed by VEOs.
“This project is pioneered by The Truth Alliance, a network of civil society organisations across Nigeria and Niger Republic, who have come together to expose the truth behind how violent extremist groups draw young people into their ranks.”
On his part, Barr. Grace Ikhuoya, Chief of Staff to the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Hon Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, said, extremism brings about poverty and unemployment to the populace.
She said, “The economic impact of extremism is the closure of many businesses in the affected areas. This results in an increase in poverty, and unemployment. Extremism also has a devastating impact on women’s mobility, social protection, and services. Many women are left as heads of households and a significant number as widows. Displacement has rendered many women homeless and more vulnerable to exploitation, affecting their access to education and employment opportunities.”
Similarly, the Commissioner of Information and Culture, Borno state, Alhaji Babakura Jatau, said VEOs had been responsible for the loss of thousands of innocent lives and the displacement of millions of Nigerians, especially in the Northwest.