The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said he has seen wealthy individuals who are being enlisted into terrorism. He, however, did not name the individuals. A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, on Tuesday, quoted the Vice President as saying this while receiving the United States’ Special Envoy on Counter-terrorism Communication, Rashad Hussain, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday. Osinbajo was quoted as saying that the development was a clear departure from the case of those who were lured into terrorism for money.
“I have seen people who are well-to-do being recruited into terrorism,” the statement quoted Osinbajo as saying.
He wondered why for some strange reasons, terrorist groups, made up of completely mindless and almost insane people, were not finding it difficult to recruit people. He said it would have been understandable if the terrorists had been preaching better life, equity and such other lofty ideas. The Vice President disclosed that a crisis communication centre that would be providing information countering violent extremist ideology especially in the North-East would be set up by the present administration.
He said the decision to set up the centre was taken because of the government’s resolve to define and disseminate positive narratives that would expose the evils of terrorism. Osinbajo also disclosed that government would put up a campaign involving civil societies, young people and Non-Governmental Organisations, coming together and interacting to provide positive counter- narratives against those of violent groups such as the Boko Haram sect.
Earlier, Hussain had said based on the American experience and the happenings in other parts of the world, Boko Haram had a strong propaganda in the media that must be countered. He observed that majority of the people had already rejected Boko Haram but the voices of the minority was being played and re-played in the media causing a content-imbalance. According to him, Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Barack Obama of the US had discussed this issue during their White House meeting in July.
He said there was the need for Nigeria to develop and disseminate content that would educate and inform the people about efforts to counter the Boko Haram insurgency, and project the 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.
In a related development, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State on Tuesday stressed the need for self-reliance in the production of local arms in order to defend the nation’s territorial integrity. The CDS and the governor were among other dignitaries who spoke at the Nigeria Air Force Research and Development Seminar, 2015 where NAF Strategic Plan (2015-2030) was unveiled on Tuesday in Kaduna .
The nation’s service chiefs were also at the event where Olonisakin submitted that the nation could no longer depend entirely on foreign military arms supplies in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency and other acts of terrorism. He said Nigeria must develop its local arms production and be self-sufficient in order to adequately defend its territorial integrity, adding that the nation had to encourage research and development in order to achieve the feat.
The CDS added that the Nigerian military was working hard to meet the presidential order to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents by December. He said:
“Fighting insurgency, presently we don’t have the wherewithal and that is why we are encouraging research and development, so that we can be self-reliant in our production and in no distance future we will get there.
Research and development is a tripod arrangement, the user, the manufacturer and the academia, the three hands must synergise, so, we, being the user, need all the other legs so that we can get the product that is required to prosecute insurgency.
We will reach out to local manufacturers to make sure that we intergrate them into the whole arrangement. We are working with timeline and we have our mandate and we are working within our mandate.”
Corroborating the CDS, el-Rufai submitted that overdependence on foreign technology for the purpose of arms production should not be encouraged. El-Rufai was represented at the event by his deputy, Bala Barnabas. He said:
“We should take the initiative and in a collaborative effort in developing indigenous arms production. We should also ensure that we develop our own defence industry. We should also note here that countries such as India, Brazil and others leverage on reaching out to the industry, universities etc, not only the defence industry but also their economists and, today these countries are almost self-sufficient in arms production.”
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Sadique Abubakar, explained that apart from combating terrorism in the country, home-based technology was a sure way to acquire some degree of immunity from the vagaries of international politics of economy and defence.