2018 SMW: Stakeholders call for Marshall Plan, closer regional cooperation to curb insurgency

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Some stakeholders of the North East Regional Initiative (NERI) on Friday called for marshall plan and closer regional cooperation between Nigeria and neighbouring countries to curb insurgency.

They made the call in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on the side line of a discourse at the 2018 Social Media Week tagged: “Battling Violent Extremism in Nigeria’’.

Rev. Fr Atta-Barkindo, a clergy, representing The Kukah Centre, said that such marshall integration and regional cooperation would provide intense sharing of intelligence and strategic planning to secure the borders.

According to him, the North East has been a neglected region for decades, not fully integrated and left with ungoverned area with other border territories like Niger, Lake Chad.

“Lake Chad is open up to Libya and Libya is currently disintegrated, militias are taking control.

“Borders are open, and if the borders from Libya to Mali and Burkina Fasso are open, it, therefore, means that the border to the North East is open.

“Then Nigeria will remain in danger so there has to be a marshall plan,’’ Atta-Barkindo said.

He said that each country had its own policy for fighting terrorism and it appeared that there was no intense sharing of intelligence and strategic planning.

Atta-Barkindo said that to overcome terrorism, there had to be greater regional cooperation.

According to him, there has to be marshall plan to reintegrate the jobless young people back into the community and give them a sense of belonging so that Boko Haram will not remain attractive.

Also speaking to NAN, Mr Alkazim Abdulkadir, Head, Media and Communication, Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI), said that insurgency was a national issue and not a North-East issue.

Abdulkadir said that most of the young boys that ran away from the Boko Haram cells are now majorly in Lagos, serving as motorcycle riders or gate men.

He said that what could address the issue jointly and avert further escalation was for Nigerians to see the Boko Haram in Nigeria as a national issue that needed everyone’s collaboration.

According to him, in terms of funding, the committee has enjoyed very good relationship with government agencies that are also trying to reverse the misfortune of the North- East.

He said that such funds would be directed at addressing issues such as health care, education, food and nutrition, and protection of all forms.

“The height of the insurgency is the displaced population which was 2.5 million but now it has reduced drastically to 1.6 million.

“This reduction came about because there have been peace in some communities and those communities that government is trying to build up have returned to normal.

“Also, because of the asymmetric warfare going on because of the insurgency, it has been difficult to begin to rebuild some aspect of some communities,’’ the PCNI spokesman said.

Abdulkadir said that the committee was trying to come up with a Transitional Justice Mechanism to use for conflict resolution among aggrieved persons which had been or would be cited in countries of conflict like Uganda.

“We are trying to bring together stakeholders and ask them a simple question “can you forgive those who have done wrong to you?’’

“Right now, it is a bit difficult because people are saying no but we are hoping that we will be able to appeal to them.

“We will use the churches and mosques and all that to see that they begin to talk to each other to bring in the spirit of forgiveness.

“At the moment it is hard, but we are sure that we will be able to achieve this,’’ Abdulkadir said.

NAN reports that the week-long 2018 Social Media Week Lagos started on Feb. 26 and ends on March 2, with the theme: `Closer’.

The event featured discussions covering the future of media, travel, governance, gender inclusion, entertainment and emerging ideas and trends across the globe. (NAN)

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