Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Mr lai Mohammed has said that the terrorism being experience in Nigeria is home grown but largely financed by international terrorism organisations with global network.
He cited the Islamic State also known as ISI, Alquaida among others as major financiers of terrorism in Nigeria.
The Minister disclosed this while answering questions after his presentation at Chatam House in London on Wednesday.
He said terrorism is not unique to any particular country but it takes different forms and style depending on how the terrorists want to strike. However he said there was the need for global cooperation in order to tackle it comprehensively.
In his presentation titled; Nigeria’s national unity: toward participation and shared values, the Federal Governments spokesperson asserted that for terrorism to be understood, there was the need to view it from a holistic and global perspective.
He said before the advent of the Buhari administration, the insecurity in Nigeria had reached a frightening dimension.
“The insurgency that started in 2009 had taken its toll on the country by the time we assumed office. The terrorists struck freely at places and times of their own choosing. They strolled into Abuja, the nation’s capital, several times to wreak havoc, including on the United Nations office and the police headquarters.
“The terrorists administered a territory the size of Lebanon, collecting taxes and removing and installing Emirs. Nigerians slept with one eye open. It was in the midst of this that the new Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office.”
“The President ordered the relocation of the military campaign against the insurgents to the North-east and rallied regional and international support for the battle. Shortly thereafter, the insurgents were dislodged from the territories they occupied, and they lost their capacity to freely attack cities or seize territories.”
The Minister further stated that in an effort to prevent Nigeria from being balkanized by the terrorists, the government engaged the citizens with adequate information about the effort of government in handling the insurgency.
“They needed to know exactly what was going on. On 5 Dec. 2018, I led over 30 local and foreign journalists to the liberated parts of the North-East, It helped to change the way Nigerians viewed that insurgency, to rally national support for the gallant men and women in uniform and to enlist Nigerians’ support for the efforts to reduce the cowardly suicide bombings of soft targets that the dislodged terrorists resorted to. If you see something, say something’, became the rallying payoff line for the National Campaign against Insecurity that we launched after the visit.”
The Minister also responded to a question about the Executive Order 6 where he asserted that the order was meant to help fight corruption and has nothing to do with political persecution or witch hunt as perceived in some quarters.
“Government believes you cannot fight corruption when you allow beneficiaries of corruption proceed to use such to affect litigation and investigation among other negatives associated with it.”
The Minister revealed that despite the killing of some aid workers by the insurgents the government was not deterred but still engaging them from all possible channels to secure the release of other people in captivity.
“Only last week, I led another Federal Government delegation to Dapchi, in Yobe State, to meet with the mother of Leah Sharibu, the remaining Dapchi girl in captivity, and to Maiduguri, in Borno State, to meetwith the families of the three aid workers who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in March this year. Unfortunately, two of the three aid workers have now been killed, the latest one being killed this past Monday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the murdered women, even as we continue to do everything any responsible government will do to free the women who remain in captivity.”
Mr Mohammed said the government believes in interactive governance both at home and beyond.
“We have also gone beyond the shores of Nigeria to meet with the global media, policy think tanks and decision makers, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. My current visit to London is the latest of such visits, which are aimed at engaging with the international media and the think tanks.
“Since assuming office, I have made a deliberate effort to build consistent and constructive relationships with the international media, especially in key media centres and capitals. I have also attempted to make those visits regular, building consistent lines of communication, not only with media houses, but with specific journalists too.”
Also as part of his speech he said as the 2019 general elections approach, Nigeria faces a new challenge, a threat not just to the country peace and security, but indeed its very existence. It is the dual challenge of fake news and hate speech.
“Yes, the fake news problem is not unique to Nigeria, but it poses a more potent threat to the country because of its multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural status. It is also a clear and present danger to the nation’s unity. Naysayers have latched onto the fake news phenomenon to exploit the country’s fault lines and inflame passion.“
To tackle this, he said the government has launched a national campaign against fake news and hate speech.
According to him, the aim was to sensitize Nigerians to the dangers posed by fake news, how to spot fake news and what to do.
“We are under no illusion that the campaign can immediately stop fake news and hate speech. But we want to bring the issues to the front burner of national discourse. And I can say that we are succeeding in that respect. Today, fake news has become a topical issue in Nigeria. To Nigerians, we say: If you can’t vouch for the veracity of any news item, don’t share it”