FG plans Crisis Communication Center To Counter Boko Haram Naratives

FG plans Crisis Communication Center To Counter Boko Haram Naratives

Chris Steven, Abuja

A crisis communication centre that provides information countering violent extremist ideology especially in the North-East will be set up by the Buhari Administration, according to Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

He gave the hint yesterday while receiving the US Special Envoy on Counter Terrorism Communication, Rashad Hussain, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He said it is critical to define and disseminate positive narratives that expose the evil of terrorism, asserting the ultimate victory of good over evil.

According to him, “for some strange reasons something that appears so completely mindless and almost insane gains currency in a way that gets regular recruits.”  Continuing, he wondered “why the completely mindless ideology gains the kind of currency that it gains.”

Prof. Osinbajo said it would have been understandable if the campaign of the terrorists preaches better life, equity and such other lofty ideas, but when the narratives of the insurgents have no such hope, it is intriguing that the message  gains any currency.

Although he noted that there have been those who were lured into participating in terrorist acts for money, he stated nonetheless that “I have seen people who are well-to-do being recruited into terrorism.’’

He disclosed that government is going to put up a campaign involving civil societies, young people and Non-Governmental Organizations, coming together and interacting to provide positive counter narratives against those of violent groups like Boko Haram.

The Vice President welcomed the US Envoy for coming to show interest and support for Nigeria in the fight against terrorism in the country.

Earlier, the US Envoy Hussain said based on the American experience and the happenings in other parts of the world, Boko Haram has a strong propaganda in the media that has to be countered.  He observed that the majority of the people have already rejected Boko Haram but the voices of the minority is being played and re-played in the media causing content imbalance. According to him, Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Barack Obama had discussed this issue during their White House meeting earlier this year in July.

He said there is the need in Nigeria to develop and disseminate content that educates and informs audience about efforts to counter Boko Haram insurgency, and projects Nigerian democratic processes as well. To achieve this, he suggested that the social and traditional media should be engaged in addition to satellite television among others in a credible way.

Also, at the Special Envoy’s meeting with the Vice President were all the three principal members of the Buhari Presidential Communication team: Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser; Mallam Garba Shehu and Mr. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistants.

The Special Envoy was accompanied by other US officials including Ms Maria E. Bruwer, Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria and Stevie Hamilton, Deputy Coordinator, Center for Strategic Counter-terrorism Communication at the US Department of State.