Atiku: Boko Haram Still Retains Capacity for Deadly Attacks

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  • FG introduces educational programme to counter violent extremism

By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Daji Sani in Yola

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said the Boko Haram insurgents still retain the capacity for occasional deadly attacks in the North-eastern region of the country.

Atiku made the remarks at the 11th Founder’s Day ceremony of American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola in Adamawa State, which was also to mark his 70th birthday at the weekend.

The former vice president, while acknowledging the effort of the security to improve the security situation in the region, said more still needs to be done to restore normalcy in this area, adding that the insurgents remain and still occupy a specific geographical space in the region.

He said the improvement in the security situation also means that some internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been able to return to their homes to live normal lives.

“I would like to specially acknowledge the efforts of our security forces in making these possible,” Atiku said.

However, he said many citizens in the zone still remain vulnerable and live in fear, adding that more needs to be done to finally address the situation so that all the IDPs would return to their homes.

According to him, “Many citizens in the zone still remain vulnerable and we cannot say that the problem is over until every displaced person is able to return home, to the office, to the market, to the farm, and resume normal activities.

“We cannot say it is over until we rebuild the schools, the churches, the hospitals, the markets and the homes that had been destroyed.  And we cannot say it’s over until the survivors of this insurgency receive the help they need, including psychological therapy to deal with the trauma that they have been through.”

Meanwhile, the federal government today begins  an education advocacy programme for school-aged children displaced in the North-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe by Boko Haram insurgency.

A statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande said the programme would include  a writing and speech competition among the children.

He said the programmed is aimed at  countering violene extremism.

He said: “The competition is open to all school-aged children (8 -18 years old) currently receiving various forms of education in the Internally Displaced Persons Camps and Host Communities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.”

He explained that the advocacy model would engage the children in conversations concerning  their educational plans, intending to create a sense of involvement and enhance the success and sustainability of their education.

The programme, tagged ‘2016 Protecting Education Advocacy Challenge, PEACH’, will involve school-aged children residing in the camps and host communities across the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and will be conducted in three stages.

The stages are self-expression through creative writing, focused mentorship and the development of an advocacy campaign which will be presented by the children themselves before a live audience.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Dr. Mariam Masha, who is overseeing the programme said  education remained one of the pivotal tools in addressing ignorance.

The programme, according to her, is jointly hosted by the Office of the National Security Adviser, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) who would also actively participate in the focused mentorship for the children.

She described the programme as a huge opportunity to catch school-aged children residing in the various camps, aimed at actively engaging the vulnerable children who have been out of school, in advocacy to counter violent extremism.

She pointed out that whilst the maiden edition of the programme was targeting children displaced in the North-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, subsequent editions would be on a national scale.

She also added that the education advocacy challenge would decisively engage the children, who she noted, were “at continued risks of exposure or influenced by radicalism.”