By Malam Isah Abbas Ahmed,
“Violent Extremism is the beliefs and actions of people who support or use violence to achieve ideological, religious or POLITICAL goals.”
Today, when the term Violent Extremism is mentioned, a lot of us focuses on the religious aspect of it, specifically Islam targeting Boko Haram and other Terrorist Organizations that associates themselves with Islam.
Based on the definition above, one can be Extremist in Ideology, Religious or Politics. Recent happenings in Nigeria suggests that we should not only stick to fight against Boko Haram in Extremism context but also expand our scope to Ideological and Political Extremism. Recently, precisely April 23rd 2016, there was report that a Man was killed in Ngalda, a remote town of Yobe State, for verbally attacking Buhari. Recent happening in Minjibir Local Government of Kano State where at least 8 people lost their lives and numerous injured because of LG polls is another typical example. Insults and fightings over political differences or ideologies are not news any longer in Nigeria. A lot of friends, loved ones and even relatives parted ways because of Political differences. Summarily, I call all these acts POLITICAL VIOLENT EXTREMISM which if action is not taken will lead to deadlier consequences than ever imagine.
On the other hand, there are this group of youths who happen to be extremists in their choice of words whenever the politician they support is criticized. In their radical minds, everything their hero did is right. In other words, their political hero has never and will never be wrong in anyway. Therefore, whoever criticize him/her has committed punishable sin to them. This kind of people always have a preloaded mindsets and can be seen as religiously radicalizable fellows.
Our social media platforms has revealed a whole lot of such political extremism as an act and political extremists as the actors.
If things are left to continue they way they are presently going, tomorrow’s Nigeria will be true failed state with the same set of youths in the realm of power.
The way forward is for government at all levels to engage in public enlightenment of youths and key political actors against Political Extremism. NGOs and CBOs working closely with youths and women also have a great role to play. Most importantly, Traditional Rulers, who happens to be closer to people should be primary actors in ensuring youths are not ideologically, religiously or politically radicalized.
ONSA and EUTAS also have to integrate this into their plan to Counter Violent Extremism. There should be inclusion of political angle of Violent Extremism and required resources should be appropriately allocated to ensure public enlightenment on prevention of emergent of Political Violent Extremism.