The ActionAid Nigeria, an NGO, says it is stepping campaign against violent extremism in parts of the country.
To achieve this, Ms Ene Obi, the Country Director of the organisation, inaugurated a project, tagged “System and Structure: Strengthening Approach Against Radicalisation to Violent Extremism (SARVE 2)’’, in Lafia.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the project is aimed at reducing the vulnerability of young persons and women, as well as strengthening communities’ resilience to violent extremism.
Represented by Madam Tasallah Chibok, the Director of Programmes of the organisation, Obi said that the project would be implemented in 24 communities within 12 local government areas in both states.
She said that the SARVE 2 project was targeted at 165,360 persons, comprising 360,000 direct and 129,360 indirect beneficiaries.
For Nasarawa state, the country director said 82,680 persons in 12 communities across six local government areas would benefit from the project.
She listed the benefitting local government areas to include Lafia, Obi, Akwanga, Nasarawa Eggon, Nasarawa and Toto.
Obi further explained that 18,000 persons would benefit directly while 64,680 others would benefit indirectly from the project in Nasarawa state.
The country director noted that the programme was the outcome of a research in Kogi and Nasarawa states, which indicated a high level of violence, especially against women and children, high youth unemployment and poverty.
“So, ActionAid, in a bid to address these challenges, is working with the communities to strengthen their resilience against violent extremism.
“We work with community groups and civil society organisations, to create alternatives to violent extremism through youth and women economic empowerment and engagement with local authorities, for equal social cohesion,” she added.
Obi added that the project was also being implemented in Kogi with the same number of beneficiaries and communities as in Nasarawa state.
She said the first phase of the project was successfully implemented in Kogi state between 2016 and 2018, reaching 12,985 youths; 4,230 women and 8,705 men directly, with capacity building, sensitisation programmes and socio-economic empowerment.
According to her, nine mini-cottage industries, including rice milling, cassava processing, bakery and block moulding factories were established in the communities where the project was implemented in the state under the first phase.
She said that the project also leveraged on the “Catch them Young” principle, in reaching children through peace clubs in schools, to make them peace ambassadors from young age.
Mr Abari Aboki, the Nasarawa state Head of Service, who inaugurated the project on behalf of the State Government, assured ActionAid Nigeria of necessary support towards its success.
Aboki was represented by Mr Alanana Attah, the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Information.
He charged the beneficiaries to maximise the opportunities at their disposal in order to ensure its sustainability.