The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, yesterday said that Boko Haram and other terror groups operating in the country cannot be defeated by warfare alone.
He said that finding appropriate narratives that will counter the ideologies of the terror groups will greatly enhance the efforts of the Nigerian Army against terrorism and terrorist groups.
Buratai, who observed that terrorism cannot be totally eliminated, noted that the insurgents’ belief in their ideologies remains their strongest driving force, adding that it is easier to kill members of a terrorist group than to eliminate their ideologies.
The COAS stated this at the opening ceremony of a Spiritual Warfare Seminar organised by the Nigerian Army for religious leaders and clerics at the Army Resource Centre in Abuja.
Buratai, who was represented at the event by Major General Sani Yusuf, said that the seminar was aimed at evolving narratives to defeat the ideologies of religious based terrorists groups operating in the country.
He challenged the religious leaders to produce appropriate narratives that can effectively counter the ideologies of the insurgents, urging them to leverage on their daily interface with the society to protect the vulnerable people from succumbing to wrong ideologies.
According to him, “the Nigerian Army has attained great feats in the fight against the insurgents, breaking their ranks and degrading their will to fight, however the insurgents’ belief in their ideologies remain the driving force, as such ideological battle can in many ways be more important than the kinetic battle. It must that it is easier to kill members of a terrorist group than to eliminate their ideologies.
“It is a well-known fact that terrorism and terrorist groups cannot be totally eliminated by mainly Military actions, this means focusing our efforts on the underlying narratives through ideologies that employed by these terrorists to lure innocent citizens to their fold.
He added that “in the case of Boko Haram, its ideology is classifying Western education as sin, while the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) is the one that challenges the rational of democratically elected government. By its nature, ideology has the power to manipulate what people think, form their opinion and direct their attitude. This often results in controlling people’s mind to the extent that they accept social contracts that equal denial of rights.
“The need to defeat the ideologies of Boko Haram and ISWAP is based on the awareness that it is the ideologies that enhance their resource and help to recruit new fighters to their fold and as such, kill their ideology and terrorist movement withers and dies.”
“The importance of this seminar is premised on the key roles clerics have to play in producing appropriate narratives required to counter the ideologies of these religious terror groups.
“Communities and the state need to be joined with a common purpose of rejecting the ideologies of these groups and challenge those who espouse them. These can be better achieved through the provision of appropriate counter narratives targeted at the ideologies of the terror groups. It means starting at the grassroots where families and local communities are at the forefront of the effort to protect the vulnerable people from succumbing to wrong ideologies.
“It is in this regard that I see you the religious leaders and clerics who regularly interface with members of the society making value contributions to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism.
“I urge you to fashion out ways of stepping up your roles; remember that the fight against terrorism is a collective responsibility that cannot be left for the troops alone. It is therefore my candid opinion that this seminar provides with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the Nigerian Army’s effort to ensuring a secured Nigeria.”