By Sumaila Ogbaje
The UNDP says Nigeria is making huge efforts in partnership with relevant stakeholders to substantially reduce violent extremism in the country.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr Lealem Dinku, said on Monday, that Nigeria has been confronting the problem for 14 years and working to address it.
Dinku, represented by the UNDP Team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, Mr Matthew Alao, said this at the inauguration of `Countering Violent Extremism Course 3/2023’ at the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPCK) on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, violent extremism and its attendant socio-economic implications has remained a huge challenge in West Africa since the 1960s.
The official said it was largely caused by economic challenges, climate change, ineffective governance, growing ungoverned spaces, and difficult environment for human survival.
“You will agree with me that violent extremism has continued to be ingrained in scope and impact since creeping into Nigeria geographical space in 2009 but has been more pronounced since 2013.
“It was estimated that between 2009 and 2023, Nigeria has suffered no less than 35,000 causalities while billions of dollars have been lost due to destruction of property, public infrastructure, and disruption of socio-economic activities including livelihoods, and displacement of mass population.
“Nigeria is still grappling with the menace of violent extremism and its attendant socio-economic implications till this moment,” he said.
Dinku however said Nigeria in collaboration with other countries in the sub-region, as well as development partners, had taken steps to confront the challenge.
He said that the course was one of the numerous interventions being deployed by Nigeria and its partners, including the UNDP and Government of Japan to curtail violent extremism and its escalation.
According to him, the course is targeted at building and strengthening the capacities of relevant stakeholders drawn from the ECOWAS.
“The course is made possible with the technical and financial assistance from UNDP and the Government of Japan.
“It is in furtherance of the Government of Japan and UNDP support to MLAILPKC to conduct courses in Peace Support Operations, Countering Violent Extremism and Anti-Piracy for relevant stakeholders in the ECOWAS and the Gulf of Guinea regions since 2014.
“Cumulatively, MLAILPKC has trained over 800 persons across the region. This is a marked achievement by the centre,” he added.
In his remarks, Japan’s Defence Attaché in Nigeria, Lt.-Col. Morita Tatsuya, said the recurring activities of terrorists and bandits in parts of the country, made it imperative to sharpen the capacity of security forces regarding counterterrorism and the protection of civilians.
“We are very committed to improving the world’s ability to fight violent extremism.
“In order to prevent and eradicate terrorism, the international community must unite in its efforts to combat terrorism, and it is also important to implement measures to counter violent extremism, which is at the root of terrorism.
“At the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development held last August, the Government of Japan also pledged to contribute to the “realization of sustainable peace and stability” in Africa.
“Combating terrorism and violent extremism is a global priority.
”We can achieve peace by preventing terrorist activities and addressing their root causes,” he said. (NAN)