Acting President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbayo: “There is no question that we need to develop counter-narratives”

The mission aims at conveying the conclusions and key messages from the National Workshop Preventing Violent Extremism in Nigeria: Effective Narratives and Messaging, and supporting ongoing national efforts on developing and implementing the National Policy Framework and Action Plan (NAP) in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism; during a series of high level meetings with key government and civil society representatives.

On Monday, July 17th, the Acting President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbayo received Presidents Uteem and Mogae in an encounter aimed at addressing the current preventing and countering violent national process in Nigeria.

The need for the development and dissemination of alternative and counter narratives to challenge terrorism and violent extremism was stressed by Acting President Osinbajo.

In relation to the work of World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid (WLA – CdM) on violent extremism he stated I am pleased you are taking it on. It is a very complex problem of those of us who have to deal with it on a daily basis and you are doing and excellent job”.

He also noted that “there is no question that we need to develop counter-narratives. We are faced with emotive narratives and its now about getting people to understand through counter-narratives that there is a different way to get things done,” referring to the prevalence of terrorism and violent extremism around the world.”

Former President Mogae presented him the National Workshop Report, chaired by WLA – CdM member and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on the issue of alternative narratives to counter violent extremism.

Former President Mogae stressed that the objective of WLA – CdM is to promote democracy, and in that effort had organized the workshop that included all stakeholders and the presidency’s Office of the National Security Adviser to address the issue of violent extremism. Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama attended the meeting.

Other important meetings to be held during this mission include President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki, who said that “as African public servants, we must continue to learn from the successes and mistakes of those that have been there before us.”

The WLA – CdM delegation participated in a round-table discussion convened in collaboration with Search for Common Ground (Search). The round-table brought together 15 young men and young women from across Nigeria to showcase the role that they are playing in delivering alternatives narratives to violent extremism. These youth presented their work and their accomplishment in preventing violent extremism across Nigeria and also hear from the global leaders about how the world leaders are contributing and playing a role in preventing VE.

On Tuesday, 18th of July 2017, the HLM met with some representatives of Civil Society, at Praxis Centre Office, which is also the secretariat of PAVE Network. The session was interactive and quite enlightening. The CSO representatives were able to provide some context while also learning from the wealth of experience of the two Presidents.

Our takeaway from the HLM is numerous, but in particular we shall as a platform now intensify efforts towards the following immediate next steps, reinforcing our position from the Civil Society Declaration at the National PCVE Workshop:

  • Seeking collaboration to map and audit PCVE stakeholders and actors in the country;
  • Establishing as comprehensive as possible data base on PCVE interventions and actors in Nigeria;
  • Working towards emergence and nurturing of a Community Of Practice on PCVE in Nigeria to ease and enhance information and experience sharing, as well as shared learning; and
  • Improve coordination among actors and stakeholders on PCVE, particularly among Civil Society.

WLA – CdM is committed to promoting democratic and comprehensive solutions to PVE challenges in Nigeria, and seeks to continue supporting the efforts of the Office of the National Security Adviser in the promotion and implementation of the NAP on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, with special focused on delivering alternatives narratives to challenge violent extremism.

The High Level Mission is part of the Project Preventing Violent Extremism: Leaders Telling a Different Story (2016-2017), implemented by WLA – CdM and funded by the European Union. One of the main outcomes of the project will be a set of evidence-based recommendations on how to create positive messaging and which tools and strategies are more effective to challenge violent extremism. To that end, a first round of focus groups was held in 3 targeted countries: Nigeria, Tunisia and Lebanon. The second phase of implementation includes national and regional consultations. The participants include relevant stakeholders and practitioners who provided the technical knowledge and Club de Madrid Members who contributed with their political insights and policy counsel.