By Sumaila Ogbaje
The National Security Adviser (NSA) says “no gun is more powerful than enlightenment and education in tackling terrorism and violent activities by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel.
Retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno said this at the ongoing “14th Workshop of the League of Ulamas, Preachers and Imams of Sahel Countries’’ in Abuja.
He said that terrorism and the rapid escalation of violent activities by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel since 2016 had been primarily driven by the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS).
He said the groups had also extended their activities to Niger Republic and Burkina Faso.
According to him, it is bolstered by activities of groups such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM) and ISGS, which have continued to pose an imminent threat to the stability of the region.
“In Nigeria, Boko-Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) dominate terrorist activities, especially in the North-Eastern part of the country.
“The situation in the Sahel has never been grimmer, extremist violence continues to spread, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is growing, and food insecurity is affecting more people than ever before,” he said.
Monguno said that there were several not entirely congruent working hypothesis underpinning foreign and regional government strategies.
He said it was imperative to reassess and reset the strategy toward the Sahel, setting aside faulty assumption.
The NSA urged the international community and its Sahel partners to prioritise governance, press for or pursue an expanded peace process cautiously through dialogue.
The NSA added that there was also the need to push for adoption of more non-kinetic measures through affected communities.
According to him, the possibility of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) creating an established caliphate to rival Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) countries has been checkmated.
This was done through series of concerted and reinvigorated efforts of the countries of the Region.
He said the adoption of both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches by LCBC countries to stem the conflict had yielded tremendous success.
Monguno also said that the adoption of propaganda videos by terrorist groups to project themselves as contending powers in the region was a mere attempt to garner support from sympathisers as they struggled to maintain relevance.
According to him, it is assessed that while the groups maintain the long term strategic goal of creating a caliphate, the efforts of LCBC countries will continues to frustrate that goal.
“In that regard, it is imperative that Ulamas, Preachers and Community Leaders in your localities key in to support efforts of our Security Forces, in order to end this menace.
“Just as collaborations between governments are boosting the advance of Security Forces in the fight against terrorism, alliances and group effort like LOPIS should be the backbone to rebuilding our terrorism infested communities.
“There’s no gun more powerful than enlightenment and education at the grass root level,” he said. (NAN)