President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday called on the international community to find ways of preventing young people from embracing terror.
Mr. Buhari made the appeal while addressing the World Leaders Summit on the sideline of the ongoing 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, in New York, United States of America.
The Nigerian President said young people are lured into extremist groups which he described as “barbaric and nihilistic organisations,” though misguided appeal to their fears, expectations and frustrations.
The summit, which was organised by US President, Barrack Obama, with the theme: “Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism,” was attended by world leaders.
While thanking Mr. Obama for organizing the meeting, Mr. Buhari said the threats posed by ISIL in the Middle East and violent extremism elsewhere, are an existential danger to many states.
“ISIL is a serious threat to international peace and security and should be treated as such. There can be no half measures or expedient solutions in dealing with terrorists and extremists,” Mr. Buhari said.
“They respect no laws, and have no regard for the sanctity of lives and property. They operate outside law and must be seen for what they are and dealt with appropriately.”
He argued that with the legal framework instituted by the UN, coupled with the rigorous process for recruitment, it was expected that people would be deterred from joining the extremist groups.
However, he noted that these complex processes and international legal framework have failed.
Mr. Buhari said the increase in violence and terrorism by ISIL and other groups has instead enticed and emboldened insurgent groups in Africa to pledge allegiance to gain local traction.
Back home, he explained that the weakening of Boko Haram’s operational capability and the need to attract foreign fighters and assistance prompted its pledging allegiance to ISIL in March 2015.
“Certainly, whatever the reason was for the declaration of allegiance, one thing is certain,” said Mr. Buhari, “Boko Haram terrorist group wants to be drawn into the centre stage of global terrorism.”
He said the development has led not only to a shift in its strategy, but also to changes in ideology, recruitment and propaganda methods, including the recourse to mass executions and public beheading in the style of ISIL.
Mr. Buhari also said sub-Saharan Africa has been receiving special attention for purposes of radicalization and incitement and referred to the April 2015 edition of the IS magazine, “DABIQ” titled, ‘Shariah Alone Will Rule Africa.”
He pointed out how ISIL congratulated Boko Haram for “joining the caravan” of jihad and the endorsement as guards of another frontier of the “Khilafah” [caliphate]
“Boko Haram is neither protecting nor promoting Islam. Islam is the religion of peace and does not advocate the killing of the innocent,” said Mr. Buhari.
By capitalizing on historic ethnic tensions and upheavals in Africa, he said ISIL is making vigorous recruitment campaigns to expand into some communities in the Sahel region.
Continuing, he said, “Mr. Chairman, Nigeria notes with satisfaction the efforts of the United Nations and the rest of the international community to contain ISIL. We certainly need to do more. We need to take military action combined with effective border security, intelligence collection and sharing, and vigorous policing action.
“These alone may not suffice, but they can certainly stem the tide and reverse the process of recruitment, movement and effective operation of foreign terrorist fighters and their associated radical extremists.
“In order to put in place the critical components of an effective approach to countering ISIL and eventually defeating it, we must address the threat from the source.
“We must find a way to prevent young people from turning to terror in the first place. And the young people that turn to violent extremism do not exist in a vacuum – they are often part of communities and families and are lured into the fold of barbaric and nihilistic organizations, somehow, through a misguided appeal to their worst fears, expectations and apparent frustrations.
“While addressing the causes of this attraction and how to deal with them, we should pay close attention to other manifest factors that may not be tangible but can be crucial.
“Good governance, which entails transparency, accountability and rule of law, remains the basis on which we should kick-start the process of ridding the world of the menace of terrorism and violent extremism.
“The international community will be required to work together to deter and disrupt illicit financial flows from nations with weak anti–theft structures to other parts of the world.”
Where such funds are identified, he said the victim state should be assisted to recover them expeditiously.
He reiterated the fact that groups like al-Qa’ida and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives.
He urged UN member states to address local socio-economic grievances by formulating policies that would ensure broad-based transformation through job creation, equalization of opportunities and expanding access to social services.
He also called on African leaders to rededicate themselves to uphold the mandate of the African Union Peer Review Mechanism, APRM, and other good governance initiatives that the region has adopted to encourage conformity with political, economic and corporate governance values.
Mr. Buhari ended his address by re-echoing the words of the UN Secretary-General; Ban Ki-moon that violent extremism is the greatest test the human family faces in the 21st century.
“All options must be explored and all hands must be on deck in the quest for a durable and a lasting panacea to the threat posed by ISIL, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram and the like,” he said.
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