The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ms Ene Obi, has charged youths in Nasarawa State to stem the tide of violent extremism through active and peaceful participation in the country’s electoral process.
She stated this on Friday in Doma Local Government area at the closing ceremony of a 5-day Youth Peace Camp organised by the NGO for 500 youths drawn from six local government areas of the state.
The youth peace camp is part of the System and Structure Strengthening Approach against Radicalisation to Violent Extremism (SARVE II) project being implemented in the state.
The project is in partnership with Global Peace Development (GPD) and Beacon Youth Initiative (BYI) with funding from Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Obi, applauded the 500 youths drawn from 12 communities across six local government areas in the state for completing the camping and participating in all trainings offered during the five-day camping.
She then charged them to begin to put into practice the training they had learnt in camp which emphasised resilience to radicalisation and violent extremism in their communities in order for peace, mutual respect and understanding to be engendered.
Obi said that one of the vital ways of stemming violent extremism was by active and peaceful participation in the country’s electoral process, giving the important role politics and the democratic process plays in the lives of every Nigerian.
She explained that engaging in the electoral process actively and peacefully was an important step towards stemming violent extremism in communities because youths were mostly used by politicians to perpetuate violence.
“All of you here have a lot of power. How you use it is another discussion. You need to take interest in the electoral process and the elections itself and participate peacefully. So you need to be patriotic and act right,” the Actionaid Nigeria country director said.
According to her, by registering to vote and participating peacefully in the electoral process, the youths play a key role in the governance process in electing insightful and purpose driven politicians who will turn the fortunes of the country around and prioritise the interest of the youths
“The essence of the youth camp has been to engage participants in different activities including skills acquisition trainings geared towards building their capacities and resilience to radicalisation and violent extremism,’’ Obi said.
She said that the youth peace camp 2021 was the third edition in the state, adding that the testimonial from parents and participants of previous editions, in terms of attitudinal change and entrepreneurial growth in their communities encouraged the NGO to hold the 2021 youth camp.
In an interview, Mr Ebruke Esike, Executive Director, GPD, said the camp had helped to create a culture of peace, social bonding, share knowledge and promote harmonious engagement in their communities in order to mitigate any form of violent extremism.
“The message for the youths is for them to become ambassadors in their various communities, go back and transfer knowledge gained in this camp to other youths and also be strong voice in political decisions in their communities and participate in forthcoming elections as well,” he said.
Miss Rebecca Dalyop, one of the participants, thanked ActionAid for the Youth Camp and said she had learnt as a young person how to stand her grounds and insist on the right things being done.
“I learnt how to make the right decision at a young age so as to enjoy the future when I am old. I also learnt about the dangers of drug abuse and how it is affecting youths adversely especially in triggering radicalidation and violence,” she said.