The Nigerian Army has urged religious leaders to produce appropriate narratives that would counter the terrorists’ ideologies towards discouraging the young minds from accepting extremist ideologies.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, made the call at the Second Nigerian Army Spiritual Warfare Seminar organised by the Chaplain and Islamic Directorates on Thursday in Abuja.
The theme of the seminar is “Insecurity in Nigeria: Repositioning Authentic Religious Narratives in the Information Spectrum”.
Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans (Army), Lt.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, said the seminar was aimed at evolving narratives to defeat the ideologies of religious based terrorist groups.
He said 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 were driven by the desire to keep Nigeria safe for everyone.
The COAS said that Nigerian Army had recorded great successes in these fights by applying all forms of kinetic operations, adding that the ideological beliefs of the terrorists had remained one of the challenges.
According to him, 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.
“This, therefore, underscores the importance of this seminar as clerics play key roles in producing appropriate narratives required to counter the ideologies of these religious based terrorists’ groups,” he said.
Buratai said the theme of the seminar was carefully crafted to ensure that authentic narratives are always available in the information Spectrum.
He also called on communities and the states to join the common purpose of rejecting the ideologies of the terrorist groups and challenge those who espouse them.
This, according to him, can be better achieved through the provision of authentic counter narratives targeted at the ideologies of the terrorist groups.
He said that religious leaders and clerics who regularly interface with people at the grassroots, families and local communities had important role to play in tackling terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
“It is therefore my hope that this seminar will lead to a renewed and sustained focus on preventing terrorism and also effectively support the ongoing military efforts in the Nation’s counterterrorism and counter-insurgent operations,” he said.
The Chief of Administration (Army), Maj.-Gen. Usman Yakubu, said the military had continued to use both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to achieve successes.
Yakubu said that the army had carried out several civil military interventions such as medical outreaches and other developmental projects to change the negative narratives used by the terrorists.
According to him, violent and terrorist-extremism’s ideology is a major challenge, hence the need for the army to organise the seminar.
He said that the religious leaders were the major stakeholders in the drive to shaping and changing the wrong and negative narratives since they have direct contact with those who live in the rural areas.
Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya, who was a guest speaker at the event, said there was a global conspiracy and sabotage to destroy Nigeria by external factors because of its potential and those of the citizens.
Mailafiya called on all including civil society organisations to rally round the military in restoring the desired stable security in the country, adding that the fight against insurgency was a collective war.