KOGI and Niger governments have pledged to address the menace of violent extremism through the provision of employment opportunities for unemployed youths in their respective states.
Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi and his counterpart Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger made the pledge when they fielded questions from newsmen in Aqaba, Jordan, on Monday, after participating in the counter-terrorism retreat held in Aqaba, Jordan.
The governors, who thanked President Buhari for giving the opportunity to attend the retreat, said they learnt from the retreat that using force only could not address the problem of terrorism or violent extremism.
According to them, they have resolved to engage the youths in their respective state in various meaningful ventures to make them more productive in the society.
Gov. Yahaya Bello said his administration had since embarked on several advocacy programmes with a view to educate the inhabitants of the Kogi on the need to shun all forms of violent extremism.
He said: “I have done enough by fighting the Boko Haram and all other crimes and criminalities, we have engaged on several advocacy programmes.
“We have embarked upon infrastructural development in the state in terms of security by providing a lot of logistics for the security personnel, buy equipment for them and supporting them in terms of various other means.
“We are clearing roads to ensure that we have clear visibility along the roads.
“But one thing I learnt from this particular meeting is that, there is what we called `hard warfare and then winning soft warfare’.
“In this particular event, it is not all about using force in combating terrorism. Terrorism came about by way of ideology and what I have learnt here is developing one ideology to counter the ideology that they have come up with in radicalising the youths and other people.
“So, what we have decided today is to go and de-radicalise them, come up with an ideology that we will use and de-radicalising them.
“And also providing jobs for the teeming youths that we have in the country and also ensuring that they have jobs.
“So, all these we are doing in Kogi and that is why we are recording a lot of successes in combating crimes and criminalities in the state.’’
Bello expressed appreciation to President Buhari for considering him to be part of Nigerian delegation to the “Aqaba Initiative’’.
He promised to make good use of the knowledge acquired from the two-day retreat in boosting security situation in Kogi.
He said: “I have to appreciate Mr President for considering me to accompany him to this “Aqaba Initiative’’ meeting in Jordan, It is quiet enlightening and very educative.
“The impression I have for this particular meeting is that a global problem, terrorism of this nature, requires a global solution.
“So, the impression I have now is that the whole world are coming together to find a lasting solution to this menace, called terrorism.
“So, the whole knowledge I equally learnt from here I’m going to domesticate it,’’ he said.
The governor, who acknowledged the leadership qualities of President Buhari, stated that world leaders had continued to appreciate his contributions to socio-economic development of Nigeria and the whole African continent.
He said: “But by and large, the world leaders eulogised Mr President, appreciated and appreciating his leadership role in Africa and in the black world entirely.
“In fact he is referred to as leader of Africa and the leader of the black nation.
“He is well appreciated for his role in fighting terrorism, in providing good governance and good leadership for Nigeria and for Africa as a whole.
“So, his outing here today, in this particular event was very fantastic and we are very proud of him.’’
On his part, Gov. Sani-Bello said administration had engaged traditional and religious leaders as well as security agencies in addressing the menace of violent extremism in Niger.
“We are engaging the traditional rulers, religious leaders and at the same time the security agencies are also doing their job of monitoring activities of people that are out to promote hate speech.
“We are keeping an eye on situation of things within the state and I hope with this efforts combined with the federal government’s efforts most of these things would be addressed,’’ he assured.
On the Aqaba Initiative, the governor said: “Basically, what I have learnt here, is that, addressing security challenges or terrorist activities is not just by force, you have to look at the economy, you have to engage the youths, you have to make them busy.
“Sometimes out of restiveness they may be coerced into dangerous operations.
“So, I think we need to find avenues to engage our youths.’’
The retreat, which was co-hosted by Nigeria and Jordan, was attended by Nigerian delegation led by President Muhammadu Buhari.