The Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has organised an inception workshop to articulate an inclusive regional communication strategy to prevent violent extremism in the Lake Chad Basin.
According to a statement by the Chief Military Public Information of the MNJTF, in Chad, Colonel Muhammad Dole, the proactive initiative is in recognition of the need to reinforce information and communication line of operation to counter (prevent) and replace the extremist ideology propagated by the Boko Haram and armed groups with a Constructive Alternative Narrative capable of discouraging extremism, restoring trust, confidence and a secured future.
He explained that the inception workshop includes to consult technical experts and representatives from the affected areas on MNJTF’s military Influence Operations that are meant to discourage sympathy and support for terrorists and deter Boko Haram and ISWAP from radicalizing and recruiting innocent people, particularly across Troop Contributing Countries and the Lake Chad Basin in general.
To design a common regional approach to information and communication activities in order to prevent violent extremism in the Lake Chad Basin and to suggest methodologies and channels of communication appropriate with messages and Target Audiences.
The statement quoted the MNJTF Force Commander, Major General Ibrahim Yusuf to have highlighted the need for a comprehensive regional non-kinetic strategy to complement the largely kinetic approach of the MNJTF to combat the security challenges in the Lake Chad Basin.
In addition, General Yusuf acknowledged the existence of gaps in the current communication strategy of the MNJTF, which according to him, makes the workshop imperative.
In his goodwill message, the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, expressed support for the workshop and charged both organisers and participants to create adequate awareness among the populace with a view to replacing the destructive ideology and harmful narrative of the violent extremist group.
Participants including the UNDP Resident Representative in Chad, Mrs Lisa Singh, acknowledged the fact that military operation is not the only practical solution to ending the insurgency, hence, the need for a review of strategies to also deliberately target the ideologies and psychology of the Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgents, as well as populations in the region.
To achieve the set objectives, a team of experienced technical experts, comprising seasoned academics, reputable international and local media practitioners and the military deliberated during the interactive session with key stakeholders and personalities from communities affected by the Boko Haram conflict.
Participants from affected communities included traditional, community, religious and women leaders. Others were representatives of local authorities across the Lake Chad region.
The 4-day workshop attracted representatives of the Government of Chad, European Union, African Union and Ambassadors of MNJTF Troop Contributing Countries; Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.
Other participants included representatives from the Centre for Coordination and Liaison and Civil Society Organizations.
At the end of the workshop, the facilitator and technical experts are expected to study the recommendations and subject same to a validation process before implementation.