In order to effectively heal the memories of persons affected by the six year insurgency in the North East, including 49,000 orphans in Konduga Local Government Area alone, as well as reconstruct and re-unify the areas affected, all stakeholders within the community must work together.
Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Dr. Garba Abari made this observation yesterday while delivering a lecture on the organization and roles of the Agency in low intensity conflict and internal security operation organized for participants of the Joint Multi-Agency Training, HASKE BIYU 2017 at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State.
The training was for senior division members and key personnel of government institutions involved in counter-insurgency operation since the Boko Haram insurgency broke out over six years ago.
Abari, who traced the evolution of insurgency in the North East region of the country, said his conclusions are drawn from his direct experience as a resident of Maidugiri, a native of Potiskum and an academic researcher who has observed the trend in the last twenty years.
According to him, “There are 49,000 orphans in Konduga alone as at November last year when we visited the place. Many of them are between the ages of 2-5 years old. If you hear the stories of mothers who witnessed the brutal murder of their spouses, of the children who watched as their parents were killed, you know that the current effort to reconstruct these communities must involve an effort to reconcile.
“At the NOA we have adopted a three-level approach in solving the problem. We must engage with the political leadership in these areas, engage with the traditional institutions and finally engage with the leaders of faith. There must be a deliberate policy to heal the wounds through the age long processes, many of which exist within the religious and traditional settings. The Imam and the Priest must be able to preach forgiveness and seek that combatants seat down together in dialogue in order to heal the memories of the past”.
According to Abari, the condoning of moral decadence over a long period of time has led to a rebellion by the youths against the society, manifesting in a number of vices including armed robbery, kidnapping, and armed insurgency in the land. In his words: “We have parents that are no longer parenting. No society makes progress that has lost its values. The price of the destruction of the home is the anger that we see in our youths.
“Nigeria is in dire need of reorientation simply because things are no longer the way they used to be. Values are being assailed by contending forces and there is a need to hold firmly to those things that define us as a people.
On the role of the Agency, the Director General said apart from the brief role it played in coordinating information and public communication on anti-insurgency operations, the Agency has embarked on peace advocacy drives in the region. He said the Agency is also reorganizing the WAI brigade in order to ensure proper civil intelligence, especially from the local communities.