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NA evolves strategy to counter terrorists’ ideology

…tasks clerics to take the lead

By Victor Akaa, Abuja

The Nigerian Army has tasked religious leaders to fashion out ways and new strategies aimed at combating as well as countering the ideologies of religious based terrorist groups operating in the country.

The seminar which took place in Abuja with a theme, “Insecurity in Nigeria: Repositioning Authentic Religious Narratives in the Information Spectrum,” is a Second Spiritual event organised by Army to find out far reaching solutions to deal with ideological beliefs of the terrorists.

Addressing the participants,religious leaders and cleric during the seminar, the Chief of Army staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Butatai charged religious leaders to enlighten and educate their followers on the true values and tenets of islamic and Christian religions so as not to be easily brainwashed by the devilish teachings of Boko haram’s ideology.

According him, this will purify and win their minds as well as reawaken their consciousness to avoid being lured into the track of Boko haram’s extremism and recruitment drive using counter and devilish narratives.

He however acknowledged that, the religious leaders and clerics Who regularly interface With people at the grassroots, families and local
communities have very important role to play in tackling terrorism and preventing violent extremism.

Gen. Buratai who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Army, Lt. Gen. Lamido Adeosun recounted the successes recorded by the army in the fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, said the major challenge encountered during the fight is the ideological beliefs used by the terrorists which has negative effect in manipulating the thoughts and actions of the people in the zone.

“It is important to state that the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists as well as other criminal groups is driven by the desire to keep Nigeria safe for everyone.
The Nigerian Army has recorded great successes in these fights by applying all forms of kinetic operations.

“However, these successes are not Without some challenges which include the ideological beliefs of the terrorists. Like we all know, ideology is a system of concepts and Views Which serves to make sense of‘ the world while observing the
social interests that are expressed therein. This has remained the driving force for these
terrorists.

“By its nature, ideology has the power to manipulate what people think, how they form their opinions and of course direct their attitudes as well as actions. This often results in controlling people’s minds to the extent that they accept social conditions that
equal denial of rights and suffering.

“The terrorists’ groups believe strongly that their ideologies have enhanced their generation of resources and the recruitment of new fighters to their folds.

“As such, we need to come up with positive and authentic narratives that can kill the ideology of the terrorists and of course wither out the inspired groups.” he stated.

Buratai who noted that the best way to curtail these ideological beliefs is to provide authentic counter narratives, encouraged all the stakeholders to join hands to address the challenge.

He expressed hope that the seminar will bring to the fall, the far reaching ideas that could be used to preventing terrorism and also effectively support the ongoing military efforts in the Nation’s counterterrorism and
counterinsurgency operations.

He however charged the participants towards proffering an enduring solutions to the terrorists’ negative ideologies.

The Army Chief further encouraged the participants to contribute meaningfully to enhance the army’s efforts to ensuring a secured nation noting that the fight against terrorism is a collective responsibility but not meant for frontline troops alone.

Buratai who was the Special Guest of Honour also reassured his commitment of providing better welfare packages for NA’s personnel, officers and soldiers,including their families for optimum performance.

He commended the Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for his immense support to the Nigerian Army.

In his welcome address, the Chief of Administration, Army, Maj. Gen. Usman Yakubu highlighted the successes achieved by the military in the fight against terrorism in the North East and other associated crimes in other parts of the country said, despite the use of kinetic operations ,non kinetic approaches were also adopted in form of civil military interventions such as medical outreaches, and spiritual warfare seminars, among others to change the negative narratives used by the terrorist.

According to him, violent and terrorists extremism’ s ideology is a major challenge hence the need for the army to organise the seminar.

He noted that the religious leaders are the major stakeholders in this drive in shaping and changing the wrong and negative narratives since they have direct contact with those who live in the rural areas.

While delivering his keynote address, Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya said, the conspiracy and sabotage to destroy or turn Nigeria into a comatose by external factors because of the great potential imbedded in Nigerians.

According to him, there was a need to adopt a new narrative that will bring people together rather than divide, saying Nigerian entity was never a mistake.

He therefore charged all and sundry to rally round the military in restoring the desired stable security in the country as the fight against insurgency is a collective war.

Recalled that the maiden edition of the Nigerian Army spiritual warfare seminar was organized by the Chaplain and Islamic Directorates of the Nigerian Army in the year 2019.

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