Government to open Communication Centre in effort to counter Boko Haram – Osinbajo

The Federal Government is to set up a crisis communication centre that will provide information to counter violent extremist ideology especially in the North-East.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the disclosure when he met with the US Special Envoy on Counter Terrorism Communication, Rashad Hussain, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to Osinbajo, the center will be critical in defining and disseminating positive narratives that expose the evil of terrorism, and affirming the ultimate victory of good over evil.

The Vice President said: “for some strange reason, something that appears so completely mindless and almost insane gains currency in a way that gets regular recruits,” expressing dismay that the Jihadist ideology gains the kind of currency that it has enjoyed.

Osinbajo said it would have been understandable if the campaign of the terrorists preaches better life, equity and other lofty ideals, but when the narrative of the insurgents have no such hope, it is intriguing that the message gains any traction at all.

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.’’

The Vice President disclosed that government was going to put up a campaign involving civil societies, young people and Non-Governmental Organizations that will come together to provide positive counter narratives against those of violent groups like Boko Haram.

Earlier, the US Envoy said that based on the American experience and the happenings in other parts of the world, Boko Haram has a strong propaganda advantage in the media that has to be countered.

He observed that the majority of people have already rejected Boko Haram, yet the voices of the minority is being played and re-played in the media causing content imbalance.

According to him, Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and President Barack Obama had discussed this issue during their White House meeting earlier in July.

He stressed the need for Nigeria to develop and disseminate content that educates and informs the public about efforts to counter the Boko Haram insurgency, while also projecting Nigeria’s democratic processes. To achieve this, he suggested that social and traditional media be deployed 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 Mr. Stevie Hamilton (Deputy Coordinator, Center for Strategic Counter-terrorism Communication at the US Department of State).

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