Experts Flag Parental Negligence, Unemployment, Drug Abuse as Aiding Boko Haram, ISWAP Recruitments

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

Experts have identified parental negligence, unemployment and drug abuse as some of the major factors driving young people into the ranks of Boko Haram and ISWAP.

This was one of the submissions during a broadcast of the Programme on Peace FM 102.5 Maiduguri, sponsored by the Truth Alliance – a coalition of civil society organizations – targeting exposure of the recruitment strategies employed by the extremist groups in Northeast Nigeria.

Featured speakers in the programme included Ibrahim Jidda, Executive Director of the African Mental Health Awareness and Care Initiative, and Estisfanus Dauda, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Supervisor with the Neem Foundation.

The group’s spokesperson Ahmad Mustapha who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, said the discussion, part of the ‘Time to Tell the Truth Campaign,’ utilized radio dramas, community plays, and talk shows to raise awareness and prevent further recruitment into violent extremism.

Speaking on the radio programme, Jidda highlighted fear as a primary tactic used by these groups. While noting the primary strategies of Boko Haram/ISWAP is to instill fear in people, Jidda said that activities of violent extremist groups are among the most frightening for the human brain.

He emphasised both push and pull factors in recruitment, stressing that: “Unemployment and economic hardship are examples of push factors, while pull factors include false promises of a better life. Extremist groups lure individuals with prospects of leadership roles, marriage to a beautiful wife, and lots of money;”

He noted that behavioral changes, such as adopting a radical mode of dressing and communication, and criticizing community scholars, often signal someone leaning towards extremism.

Also speaking, Estisfanus Dauda urged parents to be vigilant. “Parents should stand up and raise their children properly; as the saying goes, charity begins at home. It’s essential to monitor their movements and friendships, ensuring they grow up to be better persons,” he advised.

He also stressed community involvement in prevention. “The community should bring closer those who display signs of extremism, rather than ostracize them. Collective effort is crucial in preventing individuals from falling into these traps,” he stated.

He reiterated that drug abuse is a significant push factor in recruitment, calling on the government to intensify efforts to combat drug abuse and raise awareness about terrorist recruitment tactics.

Listeners echoed the sentiments of the speakers. Saiyidi Ibrahim from Lowcost Housing Estate, Maiduguri, described the discussion as highly educational and urged the community to avoid drug abuse. Abdulrahman from Bakasi encouraged young people to embrace business opportunities and seek employment.

The programme underscored the need for collective action from the government, community, and parents to address the root causes of extremism and prevent youth from being recruited into violent groups.

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